An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Nov 23, 2013
10:41 AM
The Connecticut Table

Love 'Real' Wine? Discover Angelini's Italian Gems; Top Prosecco for the Holidays

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There are also a handful of old farmhouses on the Angelini estate, and at one that has been refurbished “it’s literally growing outside the front door,” Paul said. The Angelinis’ father was cutting it back, and “now he just trains it so every year it comes out.”

That’s the original Pergola Rosso, probably with the original rootstock, and cuttings from it were grafted onto vines in the vineyard that produce the wine.

One Angelini cousin is 93 this year and he remembers it being there since he was a kid,” Paul says. “It’s kind of a cool vine; it just persists.”

While Sangiovese is Angelini’s “bread-and-butter,” the estate merlot may be the wine to watch. Paul Angelini recalls coming across a locally-produced merlot while enjoying an annual wine fair in the town. As the story goes, the Angelinis would stroll around the village during the fair and buy demijohns of wine to go with the al fresco food from an old man who had been growing merlot for 30 years but didn’t know what it was.

“The old-timers loved production,” Paul said, and this elder was producing 12  or 13 tons of grapes per acre. The Angelinis, Julius explained, picked the right Merlot clone, drastically reduced the yield, and make only 1,200 bottles a year.

“It’s just an easy wine to make. It’s perfect,” said Paul, who had just tasted the 2012 and says it’s also a terrific vintage. The Wine Hub says the merlot ($49.99) “is a rich and luscious wine that goes in like a tiger and goes out like a swan, elegant, soft and lingering.”

“One of the things we’re doing right now is doing it the very authentic way,” says Paul, pointing as an example to the Angelini Rose, made from Sangiovese, as a lovely byproduct of a larger equation. During the harvest, they take 20 percent of the juice straight from the crush of the Sangiovese grapes for the rose, which results in a light wine with both softness and richness—but the real dividend is that taking that juice off the top serves to concentrate the Sangiovese wines made from the rest of the juice.

“We’re doing everything a very authentic way. Sooner or later people will notice,” says Paul.

Even as Angelini has a reputation for making and importing superior Italian wines, there remains something of an uphill battle.

“People look at the color of the wine a lot,” Julius says, remarking how people view dark and inky as indicators of a high-quality wine (which is more a result of marketing and conditioning than being true). Rarefied red Burgundies, for example, are often light colored, and pinnacle Italian wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco must be 100 percent Nebbiolo, a light-colored grape. Sangiovese is also light-colored.

“Our philosophy is that you’ve got all of these wines [in our portfolio] …  and this is what these wines should taste like. Our Barolo tastes like a Barolo,” Julius says, adding, “Just because it’s dark and inky doesn’t mean it’s good.”

As for Angelini’s continuing growth and success, Julius says, “We’re promoting the fact that we’re also winemakers.” That’s the edge as they go after a bigger share of a specialized marketplace, working primarily with smaller wine shops where their portfolio can be well-curated.

Getting the word out on social media—as with the Skype tastings—is also a priority as Angelini also expands its offering of small-production boutique wines. (“We’ll bring in a palette of wine if we like it and we think it’s cool.”

Angelini’s wines are in 20 states at this point, and in many finer restaurants that specialize in Italian cuisine, such as Al Forno in Providence, R.I.

Love 'Real' Wine? Discover Angelini's Italian Gems; Top Prosecco for the Holidays

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