Thursday, August 24, 2023

Super Tuscan at La Sorrella de Francesca

Tolaini Al Passo Super Tuscan at La Sorrella de Francesca 

Dear friends Beth and fellow Pour Boy Bill came into town to visit family and friends. We met and dined at La Sorrella de Francesca in Naperville

La Sorella is part of the Francesca’s Restaurant Group family of restaurants, founded in 1992 by Restaurateur Scott Harris, it has grown from one small Italian restaurant on Chicago’s North Clark Street to a group of six concepts across 23 locations in Chicagoland and a couple locations in California.

The original and primary brand of Francesca’s Restaurants are neighborhood Trattorias offering classic Italian favorites in an ambiance of sophisticated comfort, that have expanded to other brands within the historic Italian cuisine. 

In recent years they've also expanded the portfolio to Davanti Enoteca, a lively wine bar and restaurant with shareable  "contemporary twists on rustic Italian cuisine" and Disotto with the vive of a wine cellar in the Italian countryside. 

They've also gwoen beyond their Italian roots with Fat Rosie's Taco and Tequila Bar a family-friendly Mexican Taqueria featuring traditional Mexican fare with shareable small plates, and Joe's Imports offering modern Mediterranean noshes complemented by iworldly wines from curated from Joe's travels, and Vasili's hearth-cooked Mediterranean cuisine.

La Sorella de Francesca (sister of Francesca) has been a Naperville chic upscale staple for more than two decades in the lively burgeoning city center district. 

While the food was delicious, the wine list is somewhat limited and the atmosphere and ambiance is challenging with horrible acoustics that impedes basic conversation to shouting above the cacaphony of music, TV's and boisterous chatter.

For our entrees, Bill, Beth and I all selected the Mafaldine Pasta Bolognese - Fiore's mafalde - beef, pork, veal, tomato sauce, carrots, celery, onion and parmigiano. It was a perfect, delectable mix of pasta meat and cheese.

Linda selected for entree the Halibut Ippoglosso al Limone* - sautéed halibut with lemon white wine sauce, capers and sautéed spinach. It was equally delicious. 

From the winelist we ordered a Super Tuscan Merlot Sangiovese Blend as a pairing with dinner. 

Tolaini Al Passo Toscana 2019 

This is from the Tolaini estate winery and vineyards of founder Pier Luigi Tolaini. He envisioned owning such an estate when he left his Tuscan home for America as a young man, knowing that one day he would return, buy some land and make great wine.

Pier Luigi's search for a top Tuscan vineyard brought him to Chianti Classico, to the prestigious region of Castelnuovo Berardenga, and to the properties at Montebello and San Giovanni. When Pier Luigi first set foot on the amphitheatre - shaped vineyard at Montebello, he knew he had found the perfect balance of climate, soil, and exposure to establish the Tuscan Tolaini Estate winery and vineyards. The silty clay soil is rich in limestone with a high presence of stones. The wine plantings were completed in the spring of 2000

The vast and diverse Chianti Classico region of Tuscany stretches from the suburbs of Florence in the north to the outskirts of Siena in the south. As a result of the diverse varying soil, altitude, exposure and micro-climate, within the zone, many argue that it should be divided into subzones, or into communes, as in the Médoc [Bordeaux, France]. If this were the case, the wines from Castelnuovo Berardenga, the southernmost commune, would be the Pauillac of Chianti, for the wines have power, intensity and, at their best, great elegance and longevity.

Wine production in the area dates back more than 3000 years when Tuscany was home to the Etruscan civilization, a people noted for their culture and wine.

The name Al Passo is a derived from the term describing a small circular forest with an interior passage ("al passo") which sits at the highest point of the Tolaini Estate vineyard with views of the towers of Siena, the town of Montalcino and Montepulciano to the east of the Tuscany wine region. It was there in Al Passo that Tolaini discovered and restored an ancient Etruscan tomb and ruins.

The inverted "Y" symbol undefined that is in their branding logo and adorns their labels is taken from the ancient alphabet of the Etruscans and is equivalent to our modern letter "T". To honor the connection of the ancient with the modern, the symbol was chosen and is used to represent the Tolaini name and brand. The symbol is carved into a 3-meter high stone quarried from the vineyard and is also placed at the gate of the Estate.

The 2019 Tolaini Al Passo is a blend of 34% Sangiovese, 33% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Such Blends that combine the native Sangiovese varietal grape of Chianti, Tuscany with traditional Bordeaux varietals are known as 'Super Tuscan's". 

 This release was rated 93 points by James Suckling, 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 91 points by both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.

Al Passo 2020 was featured by Wine Spectator's picks in "9 Stylish Tuscan Reds".

Winemaker Notes - Spicy notes of oak rise above distinct aromas of cherry and berry. The palate has a backbone of Sangiovese, a roundness of Merlot and enhanced body from the Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit purity and varietal signatures are testament to the meticulous care given to the vines. Note: Some sediment may occur in the bottom of the bottle as the wine is not filtered.

This was bright garnet colored, medium full bodied, firm and tightly structured blackberry iand blackcherry fruits wth notes of black pepper, herbs, cedar and hints of cinnamon spice with pointed acidity on the chewy tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 89 points