Here we were, gathered for a grand dinner, and lots of wines, great and friendly being opened and shared. Not to out-do everyone else, but to share the love. Our group had travelled the world, individually and together, and the wines brought to dinner were remembrances of the good times they had.
It was a case of Italiano Classico when two reds from great Italian winegrowing regions appeared on the table together. Firstly a 2011 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino. This from the great Tuscan house of Frescobaldi. The classiest expression of Sangiovese for most, and the ‘Riserva’ bottlings best regarded, as the wine worthy of extended maturation. This bottle wasn’t, but some bottle age had seen it develop lovely complexities to the savoury bitter cherry and dark-red berry fruits. Lovely dried and dark herbs and a bit of earth, a touch of game, But all the while with fruit sweetness. All backed by decent and serious structure. Delicious and we thought hard to beat, at least so far.
Then the 1998 Gaja Barbaresco. Legendary stuff because of the legendary Piedmonte producer. Sure his single vineyard bottlings are his best, but the ‘regular’ Barbaresco has it all – given some time. Nebbiolo causes wonder and consternation among wine lovers, especially those keen on Pinot Noir. Sure, there are similarities, but in reality, for me, Nebbiolo is in a different league. It has more solid fruit expression, it being much more deep in constituency. Then there’s the more elevated acidity. But it’s the tannin structure in the best wines that takes it up another level. And it is proven to develop wonderful complexity and layers of flavour. This bottle retaining its succulence but also with awe-inspiring game and funkiness. Borderline stuff for the technocrats, but other-worldly for those who love a touch (or more) of corruption.
A treat to try these, and in fact drink them. It made a classic great night.