The League of Gentlemen: Italian Wine at La Pizza Fresca
For our first “meeting” of the year our theme was Italian wines, there was one white, seven reds–the oldest a 1961 Barolo and the youngest a 1999 wine from Puglia–and two dessert wines. What better way to welcome in the New Year!
Dreams 2003 Jermann 100% Chardonnay (Friuli Venezia Giulia) Made from 90% Chardonnay and 10%? Fermented in barriques and aged for 11 months in barriques of 300 liter capacity. This is a big white wine with aromas and flavors of vanilla, ripe exotic fruits and oak. This is not a food-friendly wine.
Chianti Classico Riserva 1985 -Badia a Coltibuono (Tuscany) Traditional Chianti Classico blend. This is great Chianti with all of the flavors and aromas that make one think of Tuscany. It is a great food wine. Someone once described the aroma as “Sunshine on the Tuscan pines” and I think of this whenever I taste this wine.
Casse Basse di Soldera di Montalcino Riserva 1984– Gianfranco Soldera. 100% Sangiovese Grosso (Tuscany). 1984 was not a good year and Biondi Santi did not make a Brunello that year. Sheldon Wasserman in the Noble Red Wines of Italy tasted it ex-cask in 5/85 “Cherries and blueberries on aroma; a bit light, but nice fruit”. I found the same aromas as Wasserman but we decanted the wine. This was a mistake because it quickly changed in the glass and began to show its age due to the vintage.
Sassicaia 1990 Tenuta San Guido (Tuscany). Made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. 15 days skin contact in stainless steel tanks with a combination of pumping over and submerged cap. It is aged 24 months in French oak barriques (1/3 new). It is a well made wine but for me, I found it to be too concentrated and too oaky. It is a big wine and at 20 years old I found it not ready to drink. One can only hope it will improve with age.
Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone 1983- Bertani, Corvina and Rondinella (Veneto). 1983 was a great vintage for Amarone and this is a great wine — elegant with dried fruit aromas, a hint of prune and spice with a great finish and aftertaste. It is also goes very well with food. This wine can last for another 20 years. This is my favorite Amarone!
Barolo 1961 Giuseppe Mascarella 100% Nebbiolo (Piemonte). This was the most interesting wine of the evening. We did not decant the wine because it was 50 years old. When I first tasted the wine it seemed fresh and alive but with a rubber ball aroma. I left the wine in the glass to see what would happen. About an hour later it had changed completely. It now had aromas of faded roses, tar, and tea and tasted like a great Barolo. 1961 was a very good year and maybe we should have decanted it!
Patriglione 1999 Made from 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera- Cosimo Taurino (Puglia). The style of the wine seemed to have changed from those I had tasted in the past which I found to be bigger, almost jammy with dry fruit flavors and aromas and hints of prune. We decanted the wine but it was even better after some time in the glass. This is a wine that will age.
When I was in Puglia in November I tasted the 1999, 2000 and 2001 with Francesco Taurino. They were still full flavored but were not jammy. They had deep fruit flavors and great finish and after taste. When is asked Francesco if he had made any changes in making the wine his answer was “only in the vineyard” and would not say anything else!
Vin Santo 1993 “Berardenga” Fattoria Felisina half bottle (Tuscany). Made from Trebbiano, Malvasia and 20% Sangiovese. The grapes are dried on straw mats until Feb of the year following the harvest. The wine is aged for seven years in 50 and 100 liter barrels. This was the lighter of the two dessert wines with aromas and flavors of peach and apricot and other fruits. It was very easy to drink, with a nice finish and aftertaste.
Passito Bianco del Veneto Amabile del Cere 1990 Quintarelli half-bottle (Veneto) made from the Garganera grape. It is a late harvest passito and some of the grapes were affected by botrytis. It is a big rich wine with aromas and flavors of candied apricots, caramel, honey and almonds with a big aftertaste and a long finish. This wine can age for a very long time.
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