Tasting my way through “The Italian Wine Masters Grand Tasting: Tuscany & Prosecco” at VINO2010, was like being taken for a tumble by a tumultuous wave. Flooded by Brunello, like sea and shells; Chianti cherry in lieu of ocean spray. Dizzy, I pulled myself up from the fall–my teeth purple, my bathing suit bottom full of sand. Walking towards the shore–bottle upon bottle, sangiovese ruby red; knee deep, it came up from behind and struck me to the ocean floor again.
140 wineries. It’s difficult to taste in a situation like this. Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004–rocky, wet stone, and iron ore. Chalky cherry, acid bright, and tannins of chamois. Eventually the acidity strips the tongue and one’s ability to taste and detect goes the way of the spit bucket. With reserve oil and talc, plush fruit climbs a wall of leather, crests the apex and lands in a copper lake–Vigna Paganelli Riserva 2004.
On Canal Street, beware of sangiovese fakes.
“Over the years,” reads the tasting booklet page ten, “the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino has been a tool for scrupulous and responsible self-discipline…The consortium …is 100% representative of the denomination and is tasked by the Italian Farming Policy Ministry with protecting it.” Fresh plowed barnyard earth sprinkled with sandalwood–Le Ragnaie 2005; it breathes sparked red fruit and floral spice. Doubting the bottles content? There were over 50 estates representing Brunello di Montalcino–and very few samples from the scandalous vintage (2003). Banfi Barbi…Capanna…Fornacina…Solaria Tassi…Tenute Nere…and Visconti. Taste and spit, taste and spit. Dot the lips. Up and down the aisles. I ceased taking notes.
Glasses of water, slices of bread, and hunks of cheese. From the Grand Tasting to a pit stop in the press room to “Terroir, Diversity, and Complexity of Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano“, where Anthony Giglio ran through ten wines and notes of terroir, all in 45 minutes.
Two of the ten spoke to me:
Casaloste, Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Vincenzo 2006–the organic vines root in silt and clay. A blend of 95% sangiovese and 5% “complimentary grapes”, the Casaloste has aromas of ginger, antique wood, cherry, and incense spice.
In Tuscany, Brunello has the driest continental and mediterranean climate. And in the southern part of the zone, grapes are harvested 1-2 weeks before they are picked further north. It’s these cooler temps at higher elevations that produce aromatic wines with less body. At 920 feet elevation, from deep clay soil, comes Tenimenti Angelini Val di Suga, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004. It’s minerally and dusty with skunky tannins and watering acidity. Aged for 36 months in large Slovenian oak casks, there’s a touch of salinity on the nose and spiced cherry fruit.
At the Winemaker’s Dinner, featuring The Wines of Tuscany, Kevin Zraly introduced the wines and the Col D’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Reserva “Poggio al Vento” DOCG 2001 simply smashed.
Wednesday and Thursday, a fabulous two days, I’m sorry I had to miss the panels and tastings on Friday. Thanks to all at VINO2010, most especially Matthew Smith, who did an amazing job of coordinating the press room and all else. Until next year-Cheers!