An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Nov 23, 2013
10:41 AMThe Connecticut Table
Love 'Real' Wine? Discover Angelini's Italian Gems; Top Prosecco for the Holidays
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If you like wine but have kept the relationship at a casual level, there’s an experiment you should try this holiday season. Once you do it, your enjoyment of wine—especially when paired with food—will never be the same.
You’ll get a palpable lesson in what the pleasure quotient is like on a higher wine plateau, the domain of “real” wines with integrity that are shaped by nature and noble heritage rather than formulas and fads—wines like those offered by Angelini Wine, Ltd., based on the shoreline in the Centerbrook village of Essex.
Angelini was founded in 1986 by Julius and Paul Angelini, who were joined by their longtime friend Ron Plebiscito. The Angelini brothers spent their childhood years in the farming village of San Lorenzo de Campo, in the Marche region of Italy, and the family’s 200-acre Azienda Agricola Angelini is the heart of the business. Its title, Azienda Agricola, embodies the underlying philosophy as it indicates the family's wines are made only from grapes grown on the estate.
In addition to the award-winning Italian estate wines it produces, Angelini imports boutique-production wines from other parts of Italy and, to a lesser degree, from other wine regions of the world, like Burgundy.
Here’s the experiment, which has the most pronounced effect when done with red wine:
Pick up a bottle of a latest-sensation wine, something priced at $10 to $15—something that has pulled in a lofty rating because it boasts a prominent “nose” and forward flavors. It's likely to be inky, dark purple, and on the palate it will seem bold, lush and nuanced.
There's nothing wrong with any of that, certainly (but wait for the revelation). To complete this experiment, you’ll also have to acquire a bottle of “authentic” wine with a higher pedigree, one that truly reflects its grape varietal(s) and place of origin, along with embodying purity and the touch of a winemaker who works with the fidelity to core truths and understanding of a fine artisan—a wine such as the Angelini Pergola Rosso or the Sangiovese Riserva.
The rest of the exercise is as simple as the impact will be enlightening. Enjoy a glass of your wine-of-the-moment, and pair some of the sips with complementary food. Then switch to an Angelini wine as the main attraction with dinner—and then, before enjoying too much wine altogether, pour a last small glass of that “amazing bargain” red.
Now, in comparison to a nuanced, more authentic wine that has revealed its true depth and character over the course of a dinner, that first wine will seem simplistic, almost sugary and maybe even a bit like bubblegum. (Paradoxically, if you had casually tasted the bargain wine and the Angelini wine side-by-side in a wine shop, the “overachieving” bargain might have seemed in that context-lacking environment to be more immediately appealing and the Angelini wine more muted.)
So what's the truth? Both wines have their place, but the experiment demonstrates by example how good it feels to arrive on a higher plane of enjoying truly fine wines.
Now you’re ready to read about Angelini’s portfolio of wines, its Italian focus and rigorous, artisan winemaking tradition, along with how to seek out these wines in Connecticut, and even how to get in on an Angelini wine tasting done via Skype.
Any story on wine for a general audience works best when it puts the wines first and keeps things simple. In that spirit, here are a handful of wines either made or imported by Angelini that are great ways to get acquainted with the portfolio. (Note: all prices referenced are Angelini’s suggested retail prices, not necessarily retailers’ actual prices.)
In terms of white wines, seek out:
- The season’s best affordable sparkling wine, the Carpene Malvolti Prosecco di Conegliano DOCG from Veneto ($18.99). It’s a light, beautiful and complex wine you won’t want to stop drinking.
- The Battistina Gavi from Piemonte ($15.99), which is just like the website description: “rich with flavors of pears and peaches, zingy acidity, mineral notes and an immensely long finish.”
- The Palagetto Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva ($26.99), which has an intense bouquet of peach, lime blossom and honey, and dances on the palate with a “combination of citrus and vanilla bean, mineral notes, with creamy almond tone finish.” It will stand up to risotto and even homemade pasta.
- The Piazzo Chardonnay Piemonte ($11.99), which is a lovely little wine that could teach higher-priced American chardonnays a lesson. With its “mint, green apple and lemon/citrus notes,” Angelini likes it with seafood.
- Angelini’s own Rose Sangiovese D.O.C. ($10.99), which is dry and well-balanced, velvety, marked by hints of strawberries and cherries and great with curtain-raising small plates or just on its own.
In terms of reds, three wines produced by Angelini immediately stand out—and the first two played actual roles (on different nights) in the experiment suggested at the top:
- Angelini Estate Pergola Rosso ($16.99). This medium-bodied red is light, soft and silky to the point that on the nose it reads as a bit floral (rose petals and lavender). It evolves on the palate into a study in delicious purity, with tones of cherries, strawberries and currants. Wine & Spirits Magazine gave the 2011 a 90 rating, calling it “ebullient, winning with its delicacy and charm.” Enjoy it with a dish of, say, risotto with mushrooms and you will fall in love, Italian-style.
- Angelini Estate Sangiovese Riserva ($24.99). Another defining estate wine, this one has a full-throttle nose of ripe berries and a touch of vanilla, and, with its architectural structure, “noble” tannins and long legs, it pairs perfectly with grilled meats and prime steaks.
- Piazzo Dolcetto d`Alba and Barbera Piemonte (both $11.99). Piazzo may be the label imported by Angelini that is most commonly found in Connecticut wine shops. Despite its larger footprint, the wines are aged, filtered and bottled with a personal touch, and it shows. The Dolcetto is dry and firm, while the Barbera is a little more jammy but still holds together tightly. Both pair well with hearty dishes, and notably for this time of year, with soups.