Saturday, March 9, 2024

Old world vs new world wines BYOB at Piccolo Sogno Chicago

Old world vs new world wines BYOB at Picolo Sogno Chicago 

We met in the city with fellow Pour Boys Dan and Linda, and Lyle and Terry, for an impromptu Saturday night dinner. We dined at Piccolo Sogno in the trendy north west loop restaurant district in Chicago. 
The name Piccolo Sogno means “little dream,” in Italian, chosen by partners Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo to commemorate the culmination of their dream to open a restaurant of their own. 
The restaurant has very convenient on-site valet parking. There is a small bar, and three additional different dining rooms, a warm cozy room off the kitchen, another adjacent dining room that opens to a vast outdoor tent covered patio.
Piccolo Sogno features a menu of fresh, seasonal rustic Italian cuisine.

Their website notes - “The restaurant fits our personal goal to get to the heart of Italian wine and food,” says executive chef Priolo. “You go to Italy for simple food, prepared by hand with local ingredients and served with local wines. That’s why people love eating in Italy, and we wanted to bring that experience to Chicago.”

They offer an extensive all-Italian wine list featured of 400 labels, presented by Region - Northern, Central and Southern Italian - a dozen sparkling wines, forty whites, and a half dozen Rose'. The red list offers nearly a hundred labels across all the regions representing the major varietal types in all price ranges, mostly in the moderate price range.

Their website cotinues - ?Ciro Longobardo, an expert in Italian wines, has carefully chosen each of the 400+ wine selections and trained his staff to offer well-informed recommendations to customers. “We wanted to provide diners with an appreciation of the enormous variety of Italian wines without overwhelming them. That’s why we pay special attention to making sure our staff can help them select a wine that pairs perfectly with their meal.”'
Lyle and I each brought BYOB from our home cellars some Italian (varietal wines), an authentic old world, and a new world selection.The diverse Italian (varietal) wines were ideal pairings with our varied entree selections and provided a interesting comparison of styles of the grape.
For a starter I chose the Barbabietole mixed beet salad with citrus, greens, fennel, hazelnuts, and DOP certified gorgonzola. DOP refers to the Italian certification Denominazione d'Origine Protetta, a Protected Designation of Origin. The DOP label guarantees that the specified cheese, (or prosciutto or olive oil) is produced, processed, and packaged in a specific geographical zone and according to tradition. Each step, from production to packaging, is regulated. DOP. It was delicious.

For our entree selections, I chose the Rosticciana braised beef short ribs with local white corn polenta, sautéed greens, aromatic vegetables in a red wine reduction which was also delicisious. 

Dan ordered the Anatra Half Roasted Duck with fennel flavored sausage, soft polenta and Tuscan kale, rosemary reduction, which I tried and thought it was the best interpretation of that dish I have ever had!  

The rest of the group chose the Merluzzo wood-roasted,Branzino with stewed white beans and escarole, and manila clams with white wine and lemon. The whole fish was filet'd and split tableside for sharing.

Lyle has accumulated a respectable deep collection of Italian premium labels over recent years, partly based on wine and dine dinners at Italian Village. He brought from his cellar a highly rated super premium Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino.
I brought from our home cellar two bottles, a young new world Italian varietal Sangiovese, and a traditional old world, aged vintage Brunello. 

In the end, the group opted for the new world for a comparison tasting new young, versus old. 
Valdicava Brunello Di Montalcino 2010 
We tasted this same vintage release of this label during our 'Pour Boys' pre-OTBN weekend tasting at Kiawah Island two years ago - OTBN 22 Kick-off dinner at 48 Wine Bar - OTBN 2022 Gala Weekend Kick-offs of with tasting and dinner at Forty-Eight Wine Bar.  
It was that tasting that inspired Lyle to find and procure that label release for his cellar collection, which he brought and shared this evening. 
I wrote about that evening tasting, and this wine in particular in a blogpost at the time, excerpted here. 

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2010

What a treat to taste two 97+ point wines side by side. This label vintage release was also rated 99 and 96 points and was considered favorite and WOTN by Lyle, and some of the others.

This is from the Italian appellation of Brunello di Montalcino, regarded as one of Italy’s best appellations. Located in south central Tuscany below Chianti, the wines of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG are made of a Sangiovese clone called “brunello,” which means “little dark one,” a reference to the brown tones in the skin of the grape. Unlike some Tuscan appellations that allow other grapes to be blended with Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino appellation rules require 100% Sangiovese.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG has to be made 100% with Sangiovese grapes alone, and made only within the Montalcino municipality area. It can only be sold in the market from January 1 of its fifth year after harvest. Prior to that, the wine cannot legally be called Brunello di Montalcino (not even in the cellar): it is simply "red wine to become Brunello di Montalcino DOCG".

Montalcino is a picturesque, hill-top town that was not especially well known for wine production until the mid-19th century, when a local vineyard owner isolated the brunello clone and planted it. Other growers followed suit. Nevertheless it wasn’t until the 1970s that wine enthusiasts started paying attention to Brunello di Montalcino, which by then was becoming an outstanding wine.

Today there are 120 estates in the DOCG, up from about 25 estates in 1975. Brunellos in general are bigger, darker, more tannic and more powerful wines than Chiantis or most other Sangioveses. By law they must be aged for four years, and two of those years must be in wooden barrels.  

The Valdicava estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, dates to 1953 when Bramante Abbruzzese returned to the property in Montalcino where his ancestors were sharecroppers centuries before. In 1967 he founded the Consorzio di Brunello. today, the estate is owned and operated by his grandson, Vincenzo Abbruzzese who also serves as winemaker who has transformed Valdicava into one of Montalcino’s most collectible producers. The 300-acre estate has nearly 70 acres planted to vineyards, 100% planted to Sangiovese.

The estate’s flagship wine is the Brunello Riserva Madonna del Piano, and it also produces this Brunello Valdicava and a lesser Rosso di Montalcino. Total production is about 6,000 cases annually.

This 2010 vintage release is considered by connoisseurs as one of the best vintages so far for Brunello di Montalcino. Vincenzo Abruzzese, owner and winemaker of Valdicava, makes no exception, saying 2010 “the perfect vintage” for Montalcino - the vintage of the century and certainly the best one he has ever made.

Vincenzo believes that 2010 has become a reference point in the history of Brunello di Montalcino. The lack of any climatic excesses combined with an extended growing season resulted in a wine that, while packing power and opulence, is elegant with each of its elements – alcohol, sugar concentration and acidity – in perfect harmony. For Vincenzo, the combination of these different qualities makes it one of greatest Brunellos ever made.

This vintage release was awarded 99 points by James Suckling, 96 points and a "Collectable" by Wine Spectator, 94 points by Vinous, and 93 points bRobert Parker's Wine Advocate.
Winemaker Notes - Valdicava philosophy is to produce a Brunello that represents the best traditions in structure and aromatics with elegance, harmony and fruit. This wine offers intense aromatics, a silky mid-weight palate, and a complex layering of ripe fruit, fresh cut herbs and earthy notes.

Bright ruby colored, medium-full bodied, tangy vibrant blackberry, sweet black cherry and plum fruits are accented by notes of flowers, licorice, mushroom, tobacco and leather with layers of ultra-fine tannins and hints of tangy acidity with long big yet silky tannins. Robert Parker discribed the wine as 'gamy' and said, "Valdicava's Brunello will appeal to those who love earthy and leathery notes in their Brunello."

RM 93 points.

Piazza Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 2015 
Linda and I discovered and acquired this wine during our culinary food and wine tasting at the Piazza Del Dotto estate chateau in Napa during our Napa Valley Wine Experience (2018) We enjoyed it as one of our go-to wines with Italian dishes and BYOB dining at our favorite Italian eateries. We quickly consumed the case and watched for it on the Del Dotto on-line site thereafter. Finally, recently, Del Dotto offered and extsensive collection of aged vintages and we quickly picked up several more bottles of each of the vintages offered to replenish our cellar. 
Tonight, this was an ideal pairing with our food, and an fascinating comparision between the old world style Brunello, and the new world style Sangiovese from Napa Valley. 
We featured this label in several blogposts and tasting notes dating back to acquirsition in 2018. In November 2018: "
Consistent with previous tasting notes - My notes from previous tasting three months ago. "This was dark garnet colored; medium full bodied, this was delicious with sweet ripe raspberry fruits accented by notes of vanilla and almond with supple smooth silky tannins on the lingering finish."

Earlier, that fall - "We tasted and acquired this wine during our Del Dotto Estate Winery Cave Tour and Tasting last year. This was dark garnet colored with a slight grayish hue that signaled caution but the wine was fine, we'll monitor the next bottle (s) with interest to see if this is an early warning of trouble ahead; medium full bodied, this was delicious with sweet ripe raspberry fruits accented by notes of vanilla and almond with supple smooth silky tannins on the lingering finish.

Fellow Pour Boy, wine buddy Bill C. posted: 91 Points - Medium garnet color. Medium tending toward full bodied. Bigger and more robust than I expected. Full of red raspberry, pepper and a hint of clay, strangely enough. Medium finish with a hint of oak. Better than I remembered and a great accompaniment to fresh, sausage ravioli. 


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