Fine Mature Italian - Tuscany and Piedmont
1999 Castello di Fonterutoli; Chianti Classico
1999 Fattoria La Massa Giorgio Primo; Chianti Classico
1999 Isole & Olena Cepparello
1985 Isole & Olena Cepparello
2001 Gianni Brunelli Riserva; Brunello di Montalcino
2001 Il Poggione Riserva; Brunello di Montalcino
2004 Langhe Nebbiolo (Pio Cesare)
2004 Barolo (Pio Cesare) Magnum
1997 Barolo Cannubi Boschis (Luciano Sandrone) Magnum
1996 Barolo le Vigne (Luciano Sandrone)
10 Wines, with cheeses ................. £119.00
I have quite often done tastings focussing on Piedmont (and Nebbiolo) rarely on Tuscany (and Sangiovese), but I think this line up should make for a most gratifying evening of mature Italy, with the emphasis on Tuscany. The producers are top line, the vintages too; the wines are mostly ‘signature’, ‘flagship’, or riserva, and there will be a fascinating juxtaposition of winemaking tradition and modernity. Very much what characterises these two great Italian regions today. Expect some fine bouquets, with plenty of truffle, leather, and undergrowth, alongside the ripe / sour cherries, tar and roses .... with just occasional hints of vanilla and cedar.
The Castello di Fonterutoli estate dates back nearly 600 years (1435), and the eponymous wine is its top Chianti Classico, pretty much traditional, Sangiovese cut with a small proportion of Cabernet and/or Merlot, and large old wood aged; Fattoria La Massa, on the other hand, is barely twenty five years old (1992), with the emphasis very much on a modern approach to winemaking. Still a Chianti Classico designation in 1999 (IGT from 2002 on), Giorgio Primo is their signature wine with, in 1999, around 85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, but vinified Bordeaux style, and barrique aged. An interesting comparison of two very different interpretations of a similar origin. Isole e Olena is an outstanding Tuscan producer, one of the first (1980) to produce a 100% Sangiovese ‘Chianti’ (though not legally qualified as such at the time) – Cepparello. This is made from the estate’s best fruit, and is regularly one of Tuscany’s finest expressions of Sangiovese. The 1999 is a great wine. The 1985’s are a pair of bottles I had completely forgotten about; it was a fine year, fingers crossed!
2001 is a top notch vintage in Tuscany, and we have two fine, very traditional producers. Gianni Brunelli makes, gentle, elegant, restrained Brunellos with the emphasis on perfume and finesse; Il Poggione is year in, year out, one of the best, benchmark, classic Brunellos, and in both cases they make their Riservas only in what they consider to be great vintages. The Poggione Riserva is, in effect, a single vineyard wine: I Paganelli. Singular, sinewy, fine.At sixteen years they should be approaching perfect maturity, a treat in store.
The house of Pio Cesare was founded in 1881. Luciano Sandrone released his first, 1978, Barolo, in 1981. They represent, respectively, the ‘traditional’ middle ground, and the ‘modernist’ middle ground. Pio Cesare’s regular Barolo is a classic ‘blend’ of vineyards, with the wine aged mostly in large old wood, but with a small proportion aged in new oak too; it combines the structure and elegance that typify fine Barolo. 2004 is a great vintage in Piedmont, and I thought it would be interesting to see how his simple Langhe Nebbiolo tastes from a fine year, with over a decade’s bottle age. Sandrone has always sought to make a more supple, fleshy, relatively seductive style of Barolo. And this is, in the main, exactly what they are, born of very ripe fruit, gentle extraction, and ageing in 500 litre French tonneaux 25% of which are new. 2007 was initially announced with a great deal of ballyhoo, but it was always a good, rather than a great vintage; that said, the Cannubi Boschis, his flagship, single vineyard wine, still tastes delicious from magnum. The Le Vigne is the traditional ‘blend’ of vineyards, but from a finer, first rate year. It will be interesting to see which we prefer!
Retail prices from £35 to around £200