Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Coco Pazzo Italian Wine and Fine Dining

Coco Pazzo Italian Wine and Fine Dining - Chicago

For a business partner dinner, hosted by son Ryan, we dined at Coco Pazzo Italian Restaurant on Hubbard street in trendy chic River North, Chicago

Opened in 1992 by restauranter Jack Weiss, Coco Pazzo serves classic traditional seasonal cuisine of Tuscany in a classic stylish 100 year old loft building with timber beams brick walls and rich cyprus floors adorned with blue velvet curtains for a rustic urban chic atmosphere. 

The extensive menu crafted by Chef Eric Hammond features both classic and contemporary dishes with the finest ingredients. 

Coco Pazzo has an award winning Wine Spectator Best of Excellence Award winelist assembled and curated by Wine Director Tamra Presley Weiss, featuring a broad and deep selection of Tuscan focused Italian wines from modest to the most exclusive producers and labels. They also serve twenty wines by the glass WBTG and a collection of large format bottles for special occasion dinners. The winelist has been recognized not only by Wine Spectator but also Food & Wine, The Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits. 

From the wine list I selected three different wines in three styles and profiles to suit our diners' preferences and varied entree selections. All were ideal accompaniments and were very reasonably moderately priced values.

Avignonesi Grifi Toscana Rosso 2018

This Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese was perfectly paired with my entree selection, the Saltimbocca di Vitello topped with sage and prosciutto with wine shallots and sides of Polenta and Spinach.

The Avignonesi estate still bears the name of its founders but since 2009 it has been owned by Virginie Saverys who pursued winemaking after a successful law career in Belgium. Saverys has turned Avignonesi into one of the largest biodynamic wineries in Italy with 340 acres of vineyards and a state-of-the-art winery in the Montepulciano appellation. 

Grifi is a Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese - 50.42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49.58% Sangiovese. It was aged 18 months in French oak barriques (225 ltr) and large Slavonian oak barrels (6000 ltr).

The Sangiovese comes from the Marmino (18.55%), Caprile (15%), El Grasso (10%) and Poggio Badelle (6%) estate vineyards. The Cabernet Sauvignon comes from La Banditella (40%) and Poggio alla Lodola (9.58%) estate vineyards. 

Winemakers' Tasting Notes: "The assembly of two such different personalities such as Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend together, giving this wine a unique character. Dark ruby red in color with purple reflections, the nose opens with notes of blueberries, blackberries and incense going up to sandalwood and graphite. In the mouth it is dense and complex with hints of blackberry jam and cinnamon. It then evolves like a balsamic explosion supported by good acidity. The lively tannin all over the palate accompanies the savory and persistent finish."

Dark garnet colored with purple hues, medium full bodied, dense complex concentrated blackberry and black raspberry fruits with notes of graphite, cinnamon spice, black tea, creosote and hints of what the winemaker refers to as balsamic, with a tangy acidic moderate tanning lingering finish. 

RM 91 points.  


Acosta Pirrera Terre Siciliano Nerello Masalese 2016

Those that selected seafood entrees still preferred red wine so I chose this Sicilian Nerello Mascalese grape from the Mt Etna region from a spectacular vintage. 

Spanish, from Tenerife, winemaker Eduardo Torres Acosta fell in love with Sicily and moved there to produce local sourced wines. After gaining experiences with Arianna Occhipinti and Passopisciaro, he set to produce his own wine, initially renting 5 acres of 50-year-old vineyards on the slopes of Etna. He continues to produce totally organic "artisanal" wines, using only liquid sulfur and copper and, in the cellar imposing minimal human intervention.

From the Mt Etna Terre Siciliane region this is a blend of 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Capuccio, Minella.


Tenuta Monteti Toscana IGT 2016

For a third bottle, I ordered another Super Tuscan, this one a complex diverse blend of traditional Bordeaux varietals from a highly acclaimed vintage. 

Tenuta Monteti was founded in 1998 by Gemma and Paolo Baratta after years searching for a suitable property to develop for growing grapes and producing wines. They found and setttled on a property in a corner of Tuscany in the southern Maremma area, in a small valley, 15 km from the sea and 145m above sea level, where the fields are protected by the Monteti hill from which the estate takes its name. At that time the area was still unexplored and unproven for high quality wine production. 

In collaboration with consultant oenologist Carlo Ferrini, they pursued what they believed as extraordinary potential of the land to produce quality wines capable with personality with elegance.

Starting from scratch, without regulations of a pre-existing OC classification, they were free to experiment with the soil and the climate, to plant the varieties that would respond and best express themselves to their truest representation of their place. The result was planting Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Alicante Bouschetto, all chosen to best express the unique terroir - climate, soil, exposure, and elevation of the archaic Mediterranean hills.

In 2010, their daughter Eva took over running the company assisted by her husband Javier Pedrazzini, who is sales manager and production supervisor, and a team of agricultural manager, a managing oenologist, and 12 others working vineyards and the winery. 

Monteti is the flagship wine, named like the estate after the hill that protects the vineyard from the strong Mediterranean winds, and guaranteeing the microclimate.

The label is a blend of the estate varietal fruit, 45% Petit Verdot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Cabernet Franc. It is aged for 18 months in medium-toasted French oak barriques, 70% of which are new. This is followed by further 2 years of bottle ageing before being released onto the market.

Monteti reveals the personality of the Maremman territory with its complexity and elegance; the Petit Verdot setting the personality, the rebel horse, Cabernet Sauvignon providing structure and longevity, softened and balanced by the Merlot, with the Cabernet Franc adding a feminine element that embraces and softens both.

Winemaker's Notes: "
An intense and luminous garnet red, it offers to the nose exotic scents of delicate spices and marzipan, violet and black berries. In the mouth it is intriguing, harmonious, interwoven with elegant tannins, very long."