Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Chianti Classico duo at Italian Village Chicago

Chianti Classico duo at Italian Village Chicago team dinner

We welcomed two new team members to our corporate - affiliates family and took them to our regular team dinner venue for such occasions. We dined at Italian Village, Chicago at our regular table in one of their private rooms/tables. 

We ordered from the extensive Italian Village Wine List/Cellar, we ordered two classic vintage Italian Chianti's, the most well known and popular wine in Italy, and the most commonly consumed Italian wine in the world. Chianti is not the name of a grape but actually a geographic region, it is the 35 miles of hills between Florence and Siena.

The complex geography with a complex diverse geology makes for diverse challenging grape growing  with multiple exposures and soil types on the same estate. The region comprises 9 different communes (not dissimilar to Bordeaux) where each commune has a particular characteristic or 'terrior', sense of place, that shows in the wine. 

Chianti wine is made predominantly from Sangiovese, the grape must comprise at least 80% of the blend. Chianti Classico is the "classic" region, though many other nearby regions now use the name "Chianti" to make similar wines. 

The most widely planted grape in Italy, Sangiovese is a high-acid grape with moderate to high tannins, apparent earthiness and subtle fruit. Though planted all over modern Italy, the most significant wines made from Sangiovese come from Tuscany, from the regions of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese must make up 75% of a blend to be labeled Chianti DOCG - the appellation rules that control the production, content and label designation of the wines. 

Until recently, Sangiovese has struggled to find footing outside of Italy, though in recent years California wineries have expanded and improved their grape plantings in the Sierra Foothills/El Dorado County, Sonoma and Napa Counties, and the Central Coast.

Both wines were perfect accompaniments pairing with our Italian cuisine dinners. Shown are my Ravioli di Costata Corto Brasata - raviloi pasta stuffed with braised shortrib of beef with parmesan and ricotta cheese in a red demi glaise sauce (shown). Also shown the House Specialty Atlantic Salmon, prepared Puttanesca style, broiled with tomatoes, capers, olives, garlic, basil and white wine served over sauteed spinach.

After dinner we toured the legendary historic Italian Village Wine Cellar where we picked out a special dessert wine for after dinner sipping.  The Italian Village cellar, one of the largest restaurant-based wine cellars in the Midwest, holds over 35,000 bottles with a total of 1,100 selections. It has received awards every year from Wine Spectator for well over 30 years. 

Cellar Director and dear friend Jared Gelband responded to my text from earlier in the day alerting him that we'd be coming in with some special guests and would like to arrange a cellar tour. He texted that he had (literally during our dinner) just arrived in Tuscany for his regular producer estates tour. I knew he had the trip scheduled but had lost track of the dates. We managed without him never-the-less with the selections featured on this page.

Poggerino Chianti Classico Bugialla Riserva 2015

This is from producer Fattoria Poggerino,  a small, organic family run winery located in the heart of Tuscany's Chianti Classico appellation. The estate consists of 106 acres of vineyards, olive groves and woods, with a few old traditional stone houses and a 12th century church and the winery. The property used to belong to Prince Ginori Conti, a descendant of one of Florence's oldest families. 

Floriana Ginori Conti inherited the winery from her father in the 1970s, and in 1980, with her husband Fabrizio Lanza, began to produce this Chianti Classico "Poggerino" label. Her two children, Piero and Benedetta Lanza, took over management of the property in 1988 and took overall control in 1999. 

This label was designated Chianti Riserva, a rare classification given only the finest wines in the best vintages and are limited in distribution, not often even found in the U.S., except in vast deep wine cellars with broad and special selections such as at Italian Village - only 900 cases were produced with only 200 cases imported.

This release was awarded 96 points by Wine Spectator, Highly Recommended!, their highest score ever adorned on a wine from Chianti. 

Jancis Robinson gave this 17.5 Points (out of 20) and wrote, "This would be a good introduction to a doubter of Chianti Classico’s quality. There is beauty here.”

Winemaker producer Piero Lanza's notes for this release, “The vintage is one of the best along with 2010 and 1990,says Piero Lanza. “I think the reason the 2015's came out so well is that they are from Radda. It is one of the coolest zones in Chianti Classico, and therefore the vines did not suffer from the long, hot summer we had until the end of July. Another reason, important to me, is that I was able to harvest grapes from vines that are relatively old—between 15 and 25 years—and well-balanced, the result of the work of the previous years.”

Bright ruby colored, medium full bodied, complex elegant nicely integrated and balanced concentrated red currant and black cherry fruits accented by tobacco leaf, graphite, menthol, spice and hints of licorice and tar on a booming long lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.

Our next Sangiovese ....

Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Gran Selzione 2016

Castello di Bossi (Renieri) is one of the headline estates from the Castelnuovo Berardenga commune of Chianti Classico. Owner Marco Bacci has owned the expansive property since 1998 and has significantly increased the Gran Selezione production since the inaugural 2013 vintage - from 10,000 to 50,000 bottles.

One of the newest and strictest Italian wine laws comes in Chianti, adding to the classifications of Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Reservas is a new excellence standard bearer with the classification of Gran Selezione that represents the best of the best. Literally translating to “the greatest selection”, Gran Selezione is the newest quality designation to have been added to the DOCG classification system in Chianti Classico. Gran Selezione takes quality controls a step further than Riserva, which previously occupied the top tier. Gran Selezione labled wine has to contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes – all estate grown, no purchased, or non-estate-grown fruit, with at least 13% alcohol content, aged for at least 30 months with 3 of those having to come in a bottle. 

Since taking over the Castello di Bossi in 1998, famous winemaker and entrepreneur Marco Bacci (Renieri), assisted by superstar consultant Alberto Antonini, has overhauled and restored the massive Castelnuovo Berardenga property back into one of the region’s best. 

Castello di Bossi's Gran Selezione is a selection of the best quality fruit grown across the Bacci family's Castelnuovo Berardenga estate in any given vintage. Whilst this wine will always contain a portion of fruit sourced from the noble Corbaia Vineyard, different areas of the estate may feature in the cuvee depending on the weather conditions and ripening observed over the course of a vintage growing season.

The 2016 release of Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Gran Selzione is 100% Sangiovese, was awarded 97 Points by James Suckling, 94 Points by Monica Larner of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points by Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, and 92 points by Decanter. It was aged for 24 months in 500 Liter French tonneaux, followed by 6 months in bottle.  

Similar to the Poggerino above, dark ruby colored with a slight purple hue, medium-full bodied, intense and concentrated, yet nicely balanced and integrated, dark cherry, plum and blackberry fruits with notes of black tea, clove spice, hints of cedar and cigar box with muscular, chewy dusty tannins and tangy acidity on the long expressive finish. 

RM 93 points.


We toured the magnificent Italian Village Wine Cellar and picked out a special dessert wine for after dinner sipping.

Maculan Torcolato Breganze Dessert Wine 2007

Since 1947 the Maculan family have been vinifying grapes in Breganze, a village at the foot of the Asiago high plains of Northeastern Italy in the province of Vicenza, Veneto, Italy. 

Founded by Giovanni Maculan, the estate was handed down to Fausto Maculan who was joined by his daughters Angel and Maria Vittoria in 2007, who to this day assist their father in managing the estate.

The Maculan estate consists of 100 acres of vines and olive trees, and they also manage the cultivation of thirty selected growers. From their sixteen different vineyards the Maculan family combine ancient traditions and state-of-the-art technology to produce a dozen labels of red, white, and dessert wines. 

The area around Breganze produce red and white wines, the red wines composed primarily of a minimum 85% Merlot with Marzemino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rossignola and Pinot Noir.

The Breganze white wines are a minimum of 85% Friulano and can be blended with Vespaiolo, Pinot bianco, Pinot grigio, Riesling Italico, Marzemina bianca and Sauvignon blanc.

Most of these wines are produced dry, with the exception being Vespaiolo that can be produced in both a dry and sweet passito style wine. The Vespaiola grape is used to produce this dessert style wine from partially dried grapes labeled as Torcolato, one of Italy’s greatest dessert wines. 

The grapes are dried in a special room for four months to concentrate flavours and sugar and then aged for one year in french oak barriques, 1/3 new and 2/3 second usage.

This was rated 94 points by Antonio Galloni (Vinous).

From  100% Vespaiola grapes, this was dark golden, weak tea colored, medium full bodied, concentrated with thick unctuous notes of honey laced notes of vanilla, spices and floral. 

RM 93 points.