Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Team dinner at Angeli's Italian

 Team dinner at Angeli's Italian 

As my leadership team continues our workshops in strategic planning, we move to the western suburbs for a day of planning which is becoming somewhat of a routine. The out of town team members move to their suburban hotel and we gather for a pre-session dinner at Angeli's Italian, our favorite neighborhood Italian trattoria. 

I took BYOB from our home cellar two wines I was eager to share and compare, that I expected to be ideal accompaniments to our Italian cuisine dinner. 

Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Il Bruciato 2016

We discovered this wine when we dined for Saturday Brunch in NYC Chelsea Flatiron neighborhood with son Alec and Viv, we dined at La Pecora Bianca (The White Sheep) on Broadway at 26th. With my Tagliatelle with beef and pork bolognese sauce I paired my entree with this Il Bruciato Tenuta Guado al Tasso - a delicious perfect combination as each was embellished and enhanced by the other as a result. 

Upon returning home I went out and purchased more of this label release at at Malloy's, our Village wine shop. We have enjoyed it with tangy Italian pasta and meat sauce dishes. Hence, I took this tonight for our special dinner with my colleagues at our favorite neighborhood trattoria, Angeli's Italian.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Il Bruciato 2016

As I wrote in my original posting of this wine, this is what is known as a Super Tuscan, made famous in the 70s when wine critics noted the quality rivaled that of high-end Bordeaux. 

The Bolgheri area was known for producing IGT and VdT wines based on the typical Bordeaux varietals. 

VdT classification is the first or lowest quality standard, stands for Vino da Tavola, or Table Wine. Wines marked with a VdT on the label tells you they’re made in Italy, and that’s about it. IGT classification, the second level, one step up from the VdT wines is the IGT classification, which stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica — IGT-classed wine is “typical” of a particular geography or local region. Most IGT wines are simple, made from grapes grown locally and intended to be drank young. Many IGT wines from Tuscany are made from Sangiovese, a grape with a long history in the region. Think of them as a table wine.

In 1994, the Bolgheri DOC appellation designation was created to recognize more notable, higher quality wines. DOC, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata. The key word here is Controllata, meaning that a DOC wine is produced in a specific, well-defined region in Italy, according to defined wine making rules that are designed to preserve local traditions.  These wines tend to offer great QPR - Quality Price Ratio values.

This label if from the vast portfolio of the Antinori family who have been producing fine wines for over six centuries since 1385, a history that spans twenty-six generations. They produce legendary wines from nine different estates across Italy, and since 1985 from an Estate in Napa Valley, Californina.

This label is from the Guado al Tasso estate, located in the small but prestigious Bolgheri DOC, on the coast of upper Maremma, about one hundred kilometers southwest from Florence. This appellation has a relatively recent history, DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin) Bolgheri was approved in 1995 and since then it has become recognized for the Italian and international winemaking. 

The estate covers an area of 320 hectares (790 acres) planted with vines, set in a beautiful plain encircled by rolling hillsides known as the "Bolgheri Amphitheatre" due to its particular shape. The vineyards are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Vermentino. The proximity to the sea provides a mild climate with constant breezes that mitigate summer heat and alleviate harsh winter weather, maintaining a clear sky and a high level of sunlight exposure.

Il Bruciato was first produced in 2002 and has become an interpretation of Bolgheri’s unique terroir made from carefully selected Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from Guado al Tasso’s vineyards. The geological composition of the soil is diversified giving the wine structure and complexity.

Winemaker notes: The 2016 Il Bruciato offers an intense ruby red color. On the nose, the aromas of ripe red berry fruit, sweet spices, and a light and fresh minty note are the most prominent sensations. The palate is well structured, persistent, and very pleasurable in its fruity finish and aftertaste.

The 2016 Il Bruciato was given four months of bottle aging before commercial release.

This 2016 Il Bruciato was delicious and provides great high QPR value. Amazingly, more than one million bottles were produced at this quality level. It is great for every day casual sipping but will also stand up to special occasions and quality drinking.

This wine, “Il Bruciato,” which means “the burned” is the second wine of Antinori’s Tenuta Guado al Tasso, second to the flagship wine, “Guado al Tasso”, named after the large vineyard in Bolgheri in which the grapes are grown.

This Il Bruciato, produced to be a more approachable and contemporary style of wine than the more traditional estate wine, is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 15% Syrah.

This was delicious again tonight in combination with our dinner entrees. 

Bright ruby colored, medium bodied, smooth, polished for casual easy drinking with vibrant red and black fruit flavors accented by spice, mocha and smoke with elegant soft tannins on a moderate lingering finish.

RM 92 points.

The Wine Advocate gave this 93 pts, Jame Suckling of Wine Spectator gave it 94 points. 

Our second bottle with dinner was a real unique wild card selection, pulled from my home cellar and brought BYOB for dinner. 

BLANKbottle Petit Verdot Pat Bird 2019

I discovered this bottle, a special selection offering from Vin Chicago. Finding it intriguing I ordered a six pack case, and now wish I had acquired more. Of course on trying to obtain more it is long gone, and not likely to be found again as it is a select bottling. I wrote about another unique BLANKbottle -  "B.I.G. SA" Swartland Cabernet Blend 2019  wine that I also purchased at the same time in a recent blogpost.  

This was another special buy from VinChicago who find and often offer such limited release labels at good value - high QPR (quality price ratio) wine finds. This seemed to be good value relative to the market price if you could find it. Being from South Africa, it had lesser brand recognition and distribution with a more limited following than more popular regional wines. Searching for this label, I found it available throughout Europe and in a few locations on the east coast, in all cases at prices ten to thirty percent to 2x higher!

During my South Africa Wine Experience in 2019, I tasted some really good wines from down there, thus was open to try some unknown labels. 

Fun with wine ... as the header of this blog states, I write about "perspectives on wine buying, collecting, tasting, a study in wine marketing & branding; observations, experiences and ruminations of a winegeek & frequent traveler." This post is the epitome of such ruminations.  

This wine is the extreme of the broad spectrum of wines and labels, the polar opposite of the grower producer terroir driven wine labels where one collects and compares the subtleties of variations of the same label from vintage to vintage over time, the same wine sourced from the same 'estate' producer owned vineyard (s).

This is from South African winemaker producer Pieter Walser, who travels the region sourcing a vast wide variety of grapes from numerous growers to produce a broad portfolio of labels, many one-of single vintage offerings, and some that are repeated. There are several American and French producers that employ this negociant method of acquiring grapes to produce a private label or own label brand. I've written in these pages the perils of 'collecting' such wines since they may never appear again. Walser notes, "At the moment, roughly 30% of our wines are once-off wines. If they perform well, they will stay on."

To his credit, he employs expensive quality packaging of these wines with heavier bottles and wax dipped capsules, and imaginative designer labels.

Pieter is regarded as one of the more innovative producers in South Africa. Pieter Walser founded BLANKbottle in 2004 to make wine of quality, excitement and mystery – for those intrigued by what’s in the bottle, not by what’s on the label. Educated in Agriculture, Viticulture and Oenology, and a nomadic, adventurous spirit, BLANKbottle was born. Pieter sought creative flexibility, not to be unconstrained by style, region, vintage and cultivars. He has developed alliances with vineyards, winemakers and wineries throughout the country (ZA), to craft a broad portfolio of unique blends of premium character. 

Pieter’s eclectic range is from vineyards positioned across the Western Cape, representing diverse regions, micro-climates, soil types, and varietals, ultimately leading to different wine styles and the ability to also introduce once-off limited runs of compelling wines.

Seeing the producer website sole photo of the winemaker, (shown left), and the way he describes himself and talks about his business and his brand, I am drawn to think this is what it would be like if Crocodile Dundee, the Australian outback movie character, were a winemaker. 

Indeed, he plays on the movie theme metaphor: “It’s our privilege to be the costume designer and screenwriter, to present this time capsule, a catalyst that brings people together, there to de-stress, entertain, – as the star headline act, in the privacy of your home.”

As Pieter tells it himself, “When I started BLANKbottle, my goal was to create an honest wine brand that had no limitations in order to break down any preconceived expectations….I’ve come to realize that the road I’m on does not necessarily lead to the perfect winery. Rather, it’s an adventure, it gives me stories to tell, and that I count as my true riches and success.” 
As it turns out, the Blankbottle labels that I obtained from Vin are in fact as exceptional as the wine, having, featuring creative artwork, and having recently won multiple awards, including the Grand Prix, at the 2015 Wine Label Design Awards. The "B.I.G. SA" Swartland Cabernet Blend 2019 label is ingenious and brilliant if you get a chance to check it out.
BLANKbottle Petit Verdot Pat Bird 2019

In trying to gather more background on this wine, all the producer website says is, "A special production exclusively to the USA. Story to come soon. A 100% Stellenbosch Petit Verdot." This is after it loads 255 different images with the notice - 'Please be patient while we load labels of our 255 different wines'. 

This bottle exceeded my expectations. It hit the mark of capturing the essence, character and profile of single varietal Petit Verdot, a full-bodied red wine that originates in Bordeaux, typically highly desired as a blending grape in red Bordeaux blends because of its plentiful color, tannin and floral aromas of violet
Dark garnet colored, full bodied, muscular firm structured backbone of black berry fruits with smokey notes of tar, anise, tobacco leaf and black tea with firm but agreeable tannins on the long finish. 
RM 91 points.