Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Team dinner at Italian Village Chicago

Team working dinner at Italian Village Chicago features Super Tuscan and Bolgheri Chianti Classico

Ive written regularly in earlier blogposts about our wine and dinners, about Italian Village, Chicago's oldest, longest running continuously family operated Italian restaurant in Chicago. As is our custom, IV Wine Director and buddy Jared Gelband served up a duo of Italian varietal wines from the expansive winelist to showcase our dinner selections, as we have done several times over the last couple months. 

With dinner, tonight we selected two wines from the winelist, a recent release new arrival Super Tuscan from Antinori, and a vintage release Tuscan Blend from notable Italian producer Baron Ricasoli.

Barone Ricasoli is one of Chianti’s largest estates, with nearly 650 acres of vineyards in Gaiole in Chianti, in the southern part of the Tuscany’s Chianti appellation. The estate has been in the Ricasoli family for more than 500 years dating back to 1141. Their estate and magnificent Brolio Castle are located within the town of Gaiole.

The Ricasoli family recognized the great potential of the Brolio territory and were among the first to dedicate themselves to the improvement of agriculture and vineyards in the region. Documents from the late 1600s report the first wine exports to Amsterdam and England.

In 1872, Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809 – 1880), politician and visionary wine entrepreneur, originated the formula for Chianti wine, known today as Chianti Classico. 

Ricasoli is the most representative wine producer in the Chianti Classico area of the Italian Tuscany, or Toscana in Italian, wine region, Italy’s best-known wine region and its most diverse. The Ricasoli estate covers nearly 3000 acres of property that include almost 600 acres of vineyards and 26 of olive groves covering rolling hills and picturesque valleys with thick woodlands of oaks and chestnuts.

Historically Sangiovese was the primary grape grown in Tuscany and Chianti was considered the purest expression of Sangiovese. Sangiovese and its many clones are still important, and they are the grapes used for the Tuscan appellations of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano, Chianti, Chianti Classico and Carmignano. 

Baron Francesco Ricasoli took the reigns in 1993 and has been guiding the central Tuscan company when this label was released and re-launched Barone Ricasoli as fine premium wine producer, representing the heritage of his renowned ancestors who have made this territory great and established the Bettino Ricasoli brand. He totally renovated and completely mapped the vineyards. His wines showcase the distinctive terroir of the soil types, the climate and clonal selections of the Brolio Sangiovese.

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 (Sangiovese) Toscana IGT 2000

This 2000 vintage release is a blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Merlot. It was aged in small french oak barrels for 18 months which along with the Merlot in the blend, softens the tannins. 
The grapes were sourced from estate vineyards set 350 – 400 meters above sea level, mainly from the vineyard of the same name with southwest exposure, with a predominance of calcareous sandstone and Alberese stone.

Today production of this label is 135,000 bottles in a prodigious vintage year.

Wine Spectator awarded this vintage release 90 points.

At twenty-one years, this was starting to show its age and is reaching the end of its drinking window. The fill level, foil and cork (shown left) were ideal for the age. 

While past its prime, this wine was an ideal pairing with the slight gaminess of my Pheasant Agnolotinni pasta in sage butter sauce with Parmigiana-Regianno, a Italian Village Chef Jose Specialty.

This was initially a bit funky with some barnyard earthiness which burned off after decanting and aerating back and forth three times. This was dark garnet colored with a bit of browning on the rim, medium full bodied, powerful full and forward black fruits are starting to give way to notes of cedar, black tea, olive tapenade, leather and hints of creosote on the deep, full, lingering tannic finish.

RM 88 points.




Antinori Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato 2019, Bolgheri DOC

The Guado al Tasso estate is located in the small but prestigious Bolgheri DOC appellation on the coast of Upper Maremma, about one hundred kilometers southwest of Florence. This appellation has a relatively recent history as it was established in 1994 but has gained worldwide recognition as a new reference point in the international oenological scene. The estate covers an area of 2500 acres, of which about 790 acres are planted with vines. The remainder is richly covered with wheat fields, sunflowers and olive groves, set in a beautiful plain encircled by rolling hillsides known as the “Bolgheri amphitheater” due to its particular shape. 

The Guado al Tasso estate is one of nine major well known brand of the vast Antinori family wine empire. Guado al Tasso’s vineyards are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Vermentino grapes; this last cultivated with both with white and red varieties. Adjacency to the nearby sea provides a mild climate with constant breezes mitigate summer heat and alleviate harsh winter weather, maintaining a clear sky and a high level of sunlight exposure. 

The Il Bruciato label was created in the year 2002 as the the second wine under the flagship Guado al Tasso. It is crafted to represent the unique terroir of Bolgheri and give it a greater visibility and recognition. The first blend to be used was that of Guado al Tasso only to see, in the years which followed, a modification of the varietal composition and the identification of a series of vineyard plots intended to be used exclusively for this wine. 

Il Bruciato is now regarded as a modern interpretation of Bolgheri’s unique terroir made from carefully selected Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from all around Guado al Tasso’s vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon was blended with Merlot, Syrah and a small percentage of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and the final blend was reintroduced into barriques where it was left to age before bottling.

A widely popular wine known for great value with exceptional QPR - quality-price-ration, this is one of the few Italian labels I regularly keep in our cellar for dependable everyday sipping, but also respectable for a fine dinner accompaniment. 

I served the 2016 release of this label at a team dinner reecntly, the last of my holdings from that vintage. I write more about this label in that blogpost. The 2018 release sold out very quickly making this 2019 even more anticipated. While this is a wine that has increased in price significantly over the past few years it remains a great value and is a real must-buy for regular Bolgheri enthusiasts. 

Bright ruby colored, medium bodied, bright vibrant expressive black cherry and black berry fruits with  spices, tobacco, milk chocolate, cedar and notes of graphite on the tangy acidic finish.

RM 91 points. 

Winemaker's Tasting Notes: Il Bruciato 2019 is intensely ruby red in color. Its nose expresses notes of small dark fruit, sweet spices and tobacco. Its well-structured palate is harmonious and very pleasant to drink. Fresh fruity notes dominate the finish.