Two titans

Wine study has many benefits.  It leads to an accumulation of a great deal of knowledge, hopefully accompanied by insight and understanding.  It certainly gets you to amazing places, whether we are talking about grand, architect-designed  wineries or the small shed from which the precious bottles emerge.

Two titansBut most of all it leads to great friendships with people who are happy to share bottles with you, whether these are simple, everyday favourites or the grandest classics.  Saturday night’s tasting was certainly the latter.

I took a decent Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 from Casaloste to our hosts.  It had a bit of a back story in that we had bought the wine at the winery back in 2006 and then let it mature ever since.  It was a lovely, warm, rather opulent wine which others thought was Bordeaux with its dense fruit and French oak.  Today the wine is 100% Sangiovese but it was a blend a decade ago but the blending grapes are not declared. From the roundness of the fruit I would guess that there was some Cabernet or Merlot in it.  Very satisfactory.

Our host then served three wines which all featured Bordeaux varieties but no further clues beyond that were given.  The youngest was an expressive Super Tuscan blend from Casadei, which turned out to be a Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot Sassicaiablend – full-bodied ripe black ruit, well structured, youthful.  On either side were two older wines, one obviously much older with a marked garnet hue and the other a brick-toned ruby.  On the palate one tasted like an old Bordeaux which is what it was – cedar wood, ‘old cellar’ and refined, blended fruit.  The other was plump with a rich texture which I took to be Merlot-based.  And what were the wines?  

Wine 1 was indeed a classic left-bank Bordeaux from an outstanding vintage.  Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac 1982.  This took time to emerge but then showed refined old red fruit, cedar wood in abundance and fine resolved tannins.  A real treat for the claret lovers.  Tasted blind we wandered around the old world with wine 2 before being discretely encouraged to think of Italy.  The age was really difficult to judge as the wine was showing a deep ruby core and a fairly narrow rim. The palate was as describe (evolved fruit, long integrated with its oak) and majored on palate-filling satin texture rather than on tertiary aromas.  Interestingly, most voted for wine 2 as their favourite before we knew what the wines were.  (At the moment, I am so keen to analyse wines for study purpose I often forget to ask whether I actually like the wine or not. That’s a drawback of wine study.  

Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido, 1974 is something of a historical relic as the wine was still bottled as Vino da Tavola. In those days there was no quality designation for these Cabernet-based wines which came to called Super Tuscans.  For me, as an Italophile if Super Tuscan-sceptic, I have never tasted any Sassicaia anything like this old. But this was something of a revelation.  It was remarkably fresh with the deep colour you can see in the glass, a true survivor still with plenty of life in it after forty years.  And, of course, both wines are a testament to the friendship and shared experience that a deep engagement with wine can bring.  


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