Monday, September 13, 2021

Italian Village Wine & Dine Chicago

 Italian Village Wine & Dine Chicago

With members of my leadership team gathered in Chicago at headquarters for some important meetings, I hosted a team business dinner at Italian Village Chicago

IV Wine Director Jared Gelband (right) served up a duo of Italian varietal wines to showcase our dinner selections.

As is our custom, we dined in one of the private tables/rooms in the Village, one of the three restaurants on the premises, a perfect setting for an intimate or business dinner.

In an earlier blogpost about earlier wine and dinners, I wrote about Italian Village, Chicago's oldest, longest running continuously family operated Italian restaurant in Chicago. 

Tonight, several of our group selected the beefsteak entrees so Jared served a couple Bordeaux varietal wines from the extensive Italian Village wine cellar and wine list, as ideal complement pairings with our dinners. 

Baron Ricasoli Cassalferro Chianti Classico

Ricasoli is the most representative wine producer in the Chianti Classico area Italian wine region. The estate covers the 1,200 hectares of property include almost 240 hectares of vineyards and 26 of olive groves covering rolling hills and picturesque valleys with thick woodlands of oaks and chestnuts.

The estate and its Brolio Castle are located within the town limits of Gaiole in Chianti. 
Since taking over in 1993, Baron Francesco Ricasoli has been guiding this central Tuscan company according to the principles of his renowned ancestors, producing wines that showcase the distinctive terroir of the soil types, the climate and clonal selections of the Brolio Sangiovese. He has also totally renovated and completely mapped the vineyards.
The history of the estate and the Brolio Castle has been linked to the Ricasoli family and wine back to 1141. In the family tree is reproduced a print from 1584, one of the first images of the Chianti area as a wine producing region.
Estate documents report exports to Amsterdam and England back as early as the late 1600s. Since the early 1900s, the wines from Brolio have gained recognition and appreciation as they have been  exported the world over, from China to Saudi Arabia, from South Africa to the Americas. 
In 1872 Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809 – 1880), visionary wine entrepreneur, originated the formula for Chianti wine, now called Chianti Classico and the family has worked to refine and expand the brand ever since.
Today, Ricasoli produce a portfolio of a dozen labels  of premium wines, some only in prime years, several labels of Grappa, and a line of Olive Oils, sourced and crafted from the the Broglio Chianti Classico estate. 

Barone Ricasoli Casalferro 2015 from Tuscany, Italy

This label, Casalferro,  was  first  produced  in  1993  when  Francesco  Ricasoli  became  president  of  the company. This is 100% Merlot produced only during the best years. Casalferro is sourced from the
vineyard  of  the  same  name  located  at  400  meters  above  sea  level  and  facing  south.  The  
brown  clay  loam  soil  with  little  organic  content  contributes  to  the  exclusive  personality  of  this  
great Chianti Merlot.

This release was awarded 95 points by James Suckling, 93 points by Wine Spectator, and 92 points by Robert Parker Wine Advocate.  

Bright Ruby colored, medium bodied, black berry and black cherry fruits with tones of leather, anise licorice and dark cocoa and herbs, medium plus acidity and medium plus tannins on a long finish. One review wrote that this tastes more like a Sangiovese than a Merlot from the New World, or the Right Bank.

RM 91 points. 



 Gaja Ca'Marcanda 2003

This is from the legendary Italian producer, Angelo Gaja, whom are most notably known for their Barbaresco wines and some Bordeaux varietals under the ultra-premium Gaja brand. 

I had the privilege of meeting the patriarch Angelo Gaja and tasting the complete line-up of flagship labels at a tasting in Chicago hosted by Binny's and Paterno Imports back in 2004. This also included a horizontal flight of the flagship Gaja Barbaresco - 1978, 1989, 1999, and 2000 vintages.

This premium label is from their other branding in their broad portfolio.

At eighteen years, this is likely at the apex of its drinking profile and not likely to improve further with more aging. 

 This release was awarded 92 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: 

This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Ssauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, complex but elegant and nicely integrated black berry, black cherry and plum fruits with notes of exotic spices and soy, hints of mocha, leather and tobacco leaf with plush tannins and nicely balanced tannins on the long lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.