Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Uber IGTs: A Tour of Italy's Most Expensive "Table Wine"

Eden's night of Tuscan wines was a prelude to a show-stopping, Uber-Tuscan night of over-the-top wines: Masseto, Sassicaia, Ornellaia....

Yes, our first IGT (Italian "table wines") night delivered an impressive slate of wines (even if the best wines were not IGT...) but what I really liked about this evening was the narrow score distribution - I think the group would agree that this may have been the narrowest distribution of scores in one of our grand tastings, which led to lots of debate and no consistency in the rank orders. But out of this disorder I managed to glean the following notes:

Well, it wasn't even close - with four first place and two second place rankings Cosme's 2001 Ornellaia (65% Cab Sauv, 30% Merlot, Cab Franc) was the clear winner. But wait, it's not an IGT? No one complained, as this 'Bolgheri DOC Superiore' wowed with an beautiful and exquisitely complex nose - clearly Bordeaux-like, with spicy oak and dark fruit, layers and layers of aromas...violets and roses, sour cherries and white pepper, leather and cloves with some underlying green pepper and vegetal notes. Soft and silky on the palate, very easy to enjoy today but I felt it was touch flabbier and unstructured vs. the others, and that became more evident as the evening progressed. Score: 18/20

Cosme took the silver as well, bringing a 1999 Sassicaia (85% Cab Sauv, Cab Franc) that ranked close behind the Ornellaia, but got there very differently. Another Bolgheri (didn't somebody tell him it was IGT night?), I did NOT like the way this one started out from the decanter - a heavy dose of sulphury oak at first sniff, it took a while to blow off and reveal some sour cherries, old leather, later some green pepper and notes of cheese rind. Powerfully built, pounding the palate with dense tannins and a finish that lasted all night. All power and no finesse today, but this is still in its youth and I predict great things when this bottle finally sorts itself out. Score: 18.5/20

We had a tie for third place, so I will start with what was probably the greatest value of the night. Cam's 2000 Ghiaie della Furba (Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah), at C$41, was half the price of the next cheapest wine, yet was probably the softest, silkiest, and best balanced of the night, a combination of great winemaking and optimal bottle age coming together perfectly. Less complex than the others, and all ready peaking, but at this price? Score: 18.5/20 (one of my Top Cellar Picks)

Pramod's 2000 Flaccianello was deceptively good, and I wonder if another few hours in the decanter would have put it in first place instead of third. Classic Sangiovese tobacco notes mingled with sour cherries and spearmint, liquorice and black pepper, some vegetal notes. Tangy and spicy with an incredibly long finish, I am so glad I have a cellar full of this stuff. Score: 18/20

Lloyd brought a legendeary wine from a less than than legendary vintage, the 2002 Masseto. Fashioned from 100% Merlot, it delivered a nose of violets, ripe strawberry compote, and some smokey vanilla. Crisp and full-bodied, but not overbearing, with velvety tannins and a flavourful, long finish. I expected from one of the worlds most expensive merlot bottlings to be kinder, gentler...but the score kept creeping up over the evening. Score: 18/20

My 2000 Serpico, made from the Aglianico grape, was easy to spot - clearly not Cabernet or Sangiovese, but my "nekulturny" friends did not like this so you can take my notes with a grain of salt. To be fair the nose was simple - flinty prunes and some floral notes - but luxurious, tangy tannins and a very long finish made this a joy for me. Maybe I won't share my Aglianico any more...Score 18/20

Many thanks to Pramod and Sofia, perfectly setting up these wines with a spread fit for kings (including a rather tasty, but ominously named fatty meat called "lardo"), and to the gang for really digging deep into the cellar for a creative flight of wine.



Edward said...


Sounds like an excellent night. I love lardo, partly because it is so shockingly bad for you.

Joe said...

Hi Ed - someday you will join us for one of these, an honoured guest! Lardo - just when you thought bacon was bad for you, they cut the meat off and serve you the fat....