Sunday, May 28, 2006

Open Wallet Brunello Tasting

Our latest get-together was a blinded tasting featuring high-end Brunellos. This evening we cranked up the quality (and price) vs. our last Brunello tasting, as our expanded tasting group opened up their wallets for a tremendous flight of wines. Here are the results:

First Place: 1999 Salvioni Brunello
Cosme’s Salvioni was the winner, placing just ahead of the wine below. While it was not a unanimous victory, the Salvioni was ranked first by four of us and second by three, with only one third place ranking.

According to my notes, the wine was very aromatic with a terrific nose, with a high quality berry fruit enhanced by oak, earthiness, spices (cloves?) and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, I think I gave one of my highest scores ever for this well balanced, full bodied, hearty wine with silky tannins. To quote my notes, “Fabulous. Great, and getting better”.

No pricing was disclosed as Cosme bought this in Italy, but I could find an internet price of about US$95 for a case of 6. In my opinion, this wine is why we have cellars – a true collectible. I’d buy it (yes Lloyd, even a cheapskate like me!) if I could find it…(RP-95, D. Thomases)

Second Place: 1997 Sassetti Pertimali
Lloyd’s Sassetti (Pertimali) was just behind the Salvioni, garnering three first place rankings, three second place, one third place and one fourth place ranking. While Cosme blamed my fourth place ranking of the Sassetti for its second place finish, ranking it third or second would not have placed it ahead of the Salvioni. Close, but still second place…

Given my below-consensus ranking of the wine, my notes are not reflective of the group. However, it was not all negative. I praised this wine for its “stunning” nose, incredibly beautiful and interesting. It was my highest 'olfactory evaluation' score. However, the taste did not (in my mind) live up to the nose - I described it as "disappointing" (vs. the smell) and somewhat unbalanced. But hey, who am I to argue with three first place and three second place rankings - at a local price of C$125 (internet price of US$72) you Sassetti lovers can go buy it for yourselves! (RP-96)

Third Place: 1999 Antinori "Pian Delle Vigne"
Our third wine was my "Pian Delle Vigne". Ratings were fairly consistent - the wine garnered one first (that was you, Lloyd), one second, four third, one fourth and one fifth place ranking. According to my notes, this wine also had a lovely nose, with many subtle but wonderful aromas. Like the Sassetti, I felt the taste did not live up to the nose, but I this is a wine that will should get better. Note the price - at C$67.50 it was not a steal, but it does make this wine the "best value" for the night. (RP-93, D. Thomases)

Fourth Place: 1997 Campogiovanni Riserva
Taster ratings were consistent for this wine as well - one second (me), three thirds and four fourth place scores. My notes really focused on this wine's balance, with good fruit and a very enjoyable style, with a pleasant (but less interesting) nose. I can only guess at what the rest of you disliked about this wine. I don't have a price for this one.

Fifth Place: 1998 Altesino "Montosoli"
Cam's Altesino was corked. For obvious reasons, seven out of eight tasters rated this last place.

Editorial comments:
This was easily our most expensive tasting. It was probably the best as well. These are complex, powerful wines, and I found I kept second-guessing myself, constantly changing my scores right up until the end. It is important to note that the score differential between my first and fourth place wines was very small, perhaps the smallest ever. They were all winners, so price should be a deciding factor. In that case, the Antinori was a hands-down Value Champ.