Sunday, May 03, 2009

Super Tuscans in the Garden of Eden

My buddy Eden loves to make a big to do of my visits to Toronto, this time inviting a bunch of friends over for steaks and a tasting hosted by yours truly. Personally, I love to mess with the gang and put together an eclectic flight of wines, but tonight I decided to see what 20-50 bucks could get you in Tuscany, and (blinded) I was curious if we could identify any "hidden gems".

I was curious to see how the 2005 Nipozzana Reserva (Chianti Ruffina) would show in this flight, being the lowest priced of the bunch. A bit jammy on the nose, with tobacco, and slatey black cherry, a minerally finish but a touch fruity vs. prior vintages - a great value (C$22), but it didn't blow the competition away. Score: 17/20

There was no doubt in my mind that the 2006 Lucente (IGT) stood out from the pack - notes of mint, ginger ale, anise and flint...incredibly smooth and polished on the palate, with fresh cherries and a deceptively long finish (C$40). Score: 18/20

The 2004 Terrabianca Piano del Cipresso (IGT) pruney, cheddar cheesey, meaty sausage, rather rustic - flavourful, modest finish, woodsy tannins - opened nicely (C$31). Score: 17/20

The 2002 Piastraia was a gorgeous wine...wet stones and black cherries, leather and tobacco, a most gorgeous mouthfeel, with fine, silky tannins...balanced, with a pleasing, lingering finish (C$40). Score: 17.5/20

The 2005 Sassoalloro continued the '05 jamminess seen above - ripe and jammy on the nose, notes of flowers, anise...a silky, but modest finish, very well balanced (C$35). Score: 16.5/20

But it wasn't all Italian, as Mike brought a treasure from his own cellar, a well-aged 1996 Caymus. A beautiful nose of figs and black earth, piney and cedary leather, sulphur, showing hints of violets, plums and blackberries as it opened up. Pruney, light and peppery, tangy and lighter-bodied. Stylistically my ideal claret, and it has aged very well, but just a touch awkward despite substantial time in the decanter - excellent, but just shy of outstanding.
Score: 17.5/20

Overall, buyers should note that two 2005 Tuscans that have been favourites of mine produced modest disappointments, and will certainly guide my future Tuscan wine buying...

Thanks to Eden and his wife for the terrific spread to complement this tasting - the steaks and all the fixin's were delicious. I look forward to another meeting of my Toronto tasting group!


Shea said...

I've found the Lucente consistently impressive at its price point.

Shea said...

Oh, also I have found 2005 tuscany to be off the mark for lots of wines. I wouldn't judge a wine you traditionally like just on that vintage.

Joe said...

Hi Shea - Lucente is one I feared that I would not like, but ever time I try it I like it more and more. As for '05, I simply mean that I will avoid buying that vintage, not avoid my old faves! Shouldn't be too hard, a bunch of newer vintages out now.