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WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:42 pm

Took place on Wednesday, the 25th of June 2008, at Le Colombier in Chelsea, London. Aiko and Linden Wilkie of The Fine Wine Experience, our gracious hosts, put together an admirable tasting. Nineteen glasses each put on one huge table in front of seventeen participants, a most impressive sight. The tasting on the whole turned out to be, even though Victor and I were among the initiators (and contributors of sample bottles, all of which seemed impeccably well stored), a positive surprise: tasting blind, there was greater individuality to the wines than expected, and with the exception of several (always too many) that had a cork-taint, the wines all showed very nicely, and they are all prettily mature. The dinner that followed was of more variable quality, with the lamb rack tastiest of all, but I thought the location very well chosen (great separate upstairs room). Thanks Aiko and Linden!

In hindsight, comparing earlier notes and ratings, I might divide the 1990 Brunelli we had in three categories today:
1. A majority of wines (adding a number not included at this tasting) were "best" back when they showed "youthful promise" (as vintner Daniel Gantenbein once told me, more often than not the best a wine has to offer ever), in the case of 1990 a combination of a youthfully dusty-tannic clout and primary fruit that in all but the very best wines included a jammy-superripe quality that I always thought detracted slightly from that optimal freshness, raciness, finesse and cut I look for in wine. These are all 1990s that proved what my friend Albino says about Sangiovese even from a top vintage: no use waiting for the acid backbone to ideally dissolve, let alone the wines to achieve the kind of harmony associated with other grape varieties, because the fruit tends to wear off rather more quickly than the tannin, and the acidity remains more or less the same. It is/was a matter of catching these wines at the subjectively "right" time. In contrast to some traditionally-styled Brunello (old-style Biondi-Santi etc.), the semi-modern 1990s were all best between the age of roughly 8 to 15 years old. Whether the more polished modern Brunelli marketed today will age "better" remains to be seen (note when I say "better", I never mean longer - that is a matter of preference and potential for immortality of the owner).
2. A handful wines showed about as well as could be expected, such as the Barbi Riserva, Caparzo's La Casa, Altesino's Montosoli. Again, one may have rated them a point or two higher during that stage of "youthful promise" - I never did, but I'm a skeptic.
3. Ironically, the biggest relative disappointment came from those wines that came out on top: neither of the two Solderas stood out by the usual margin (nor, for that matter, did Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona's Pianrosso show as well as it usually does). Such is life!

Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Lago 1990
From Victor’s collection. Ruby-black, soft orange hue. Dry blood orange and black cherry with lovely dried truffle. Inoffensively dry tannin, orangey acidity. Quite long and tannic, not too dusty, nor especially deep. Complex enough, although hardly finesseful. Integrated oak. Pretty wine, sweeter and lusher with airing, smokier. Rating: 88(+?)

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From my collection. Bit deeper colour than the Val di Suga’s. Sweeter, meatier, a bit murkier or Rhône-like, a bit shorter on the finish, ends a bit abruptly. Sweet pipe tobacco, some oak. Used to be thicker and fruitier, albeit more tannic, but is still pretty enough. Rating: 87-

Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From my collection. Perhaps a fraction prunier colour than the Banfi’s, if not the same. Soft sweet cork rind, chestnut and marzipan oak. Soft charcoal/asphalt. Fruitier, a bit warmer with alcohol “sweetness”. More viscous. Less dry on the finish. “Fragrant purity”, “brightness”, “not too extracted” were some of the comments I overheard. This held up very well with airing. Rating: 88(+?)

Pertimali di Livio Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From my collection. Less gloss, more orange to the garnet-ruby-black. Smells a bit weird, soft bitter note. Quite a well-concentrated, dense and tannic effort. Black cherry coulis, orangey asphalt. Medium-plus body. Medium length. Faintly soapy-rubbery quality. Is this a bit lighter than most, or merely deceptive? Improved with airing, though. “Terroir”, “firmer tannin” and “still young” were some of the comments I overheard. Rating: 87+?

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From my collection. A bit fresher colour, a bit lighter than the Pertimali di Sassetti’s. Scorched mushroom and mace and five spice finesse notes to blood orange rind and dried black cherry jam, dried rose petal. Good intensity and balance. Quite good body and length. Tasty, if a bit dusty-dry. Flatter than the Riserva with airing. “A little odd”, “coarse” and “rustic” were some of the comments I overheard. Rating: 90-/89?

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1990
From my collection. A bit more garnet-black and orange than the normale. Roasted lamb or beef. Tighter tannin, not necessarily drier, though. A touch of curry to more raisined black cherry. Nice body. Good medium-plus length, soft sweet asphalt on the finish and aftertaste. Like the viscosity here. Quite an alluring wine, improved with airing. Balanced and harmonious. Some people wondered if the Montosoli may be a touch overvinified in comparison. Rating: 89+/90

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 1990
From my collection. More youthful, fuller ruby-black colour. A denser, more powerful and viscous, still youthfully tannic wine that cuts a broader swath across the palate. Fuller-bodied, good grip. Nice irony earth. Precise wine. Good complexity, if not too finesseful. Drier, more oak-induced tannin. Good lingering length. Stable with airing. Less sweet and round than the Riserva, in part no doubt because this is less evolved. Rating: 90(+?)

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1990
From Victor’s collection. Also fairly youthful, full colour, good gloss. More of a chewing gum cherry aroma on the nose. Some marzipan oak to firm black cherry. Some roasted meats and herbs. More depth and finesse. Good body. Firm, quite long and powerful on the finish. In terms of expression one of my favourites of the tasting, too good to spit. “So fruity”, “shows an extra aromatic quality” were some of the comments I overheard. One of the agreed-upon favourite of the evening, I believe. Rating: 91+/92?

Castello di Argiano Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1990
From my collection. Nicely full colour. Only tasted this at the very end of the tasting because of an obvious TCA taint. Too bad, as this can be almost Pomerol-like in character. Still quite full and dense, if dry. Rating: N/R

Franco Biondi-Santi Tenuta "Il Greppo" Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From Victor’s collection. A bit lighter ruby-orange-black, wider watery rim than most wines. A bit unyielding nose, tiles-like orange and grated baked clay dust. Minor TCA taint (not all participants agreed), although merely faintly bitter-dry. Slightly imprecise orangey softness, unfocused – in great part due to the cork taint, even so, this has always been a light effort for Biondi-Santi. Still a pity, I had been looking forward to retasting it. Improved a little with airing, though. Medium body. Medium-short on the finish (again, in part no doubt due to the cork taint). Rating: 85-/84? (or: N/R)

Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From Linden’s collection, if I remember correctly. Nice glossy but not to deep garnet-black, watery-orange rim. Great nose, oily-smooth texture, a complex and serious and interesting wine that stands out. Green as well as aged tobacco. Lightly cooked and raisined but precise fruit. Sweet, a bit leathery. Raw beef. Faint caper note. Faint medicinal minerality, faint iodine. Quite long. “Brightness”, “explosiveness”, “soft lovely resin” and “finely-grained” were some of the comments I overheard. “I’ve had better bottles”, the importer said. Rating: 93+/94

Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1990
From the importer’s personal collection, if I remember correctly. Deeper ruby-black, more density to the colour. A bit overripe, a touch of volatile acidity, and (although no one seemed to agree I remained convinced) a tiny TCA taint. Starts out full and quite complex, but stops a bit short and bitter. Smoky-dense fruit, faint marzipan to the crystallized cherry. Most impressive depth for a cork-tainted wine, great terroir notes. So mildly corked, it barely mattered – this was still the wine of the tasting for most, but then, I got the impression the Riserva came from more pristine storage than the sample of Soldera’s normale we had that night: only a comparison of two equally well-stored and taint-free sample bottles would have answered the question which is better. What a bummer... Rating: 93++? (or: N/R)

Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino La Casa 1990
From my collection. Plummier, more opaque colour. A bit imprecise on the nose. Bakery and meat spice. Orangey mace. Soft oregano. Medium-attractive tobacco. More of a mushroom top note than most. Good density, quite palate-staining. Good body. More new oak-induced, softly powdery tannin. Quite hugely sweet and seemingly denser with airing, quite stable. “A bit evolved”, someone said. Rating: 91+?

Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso 1990
From my collection. Usually my third favourite of the vintage (this is back from the Giuseppe Bianchini era), this was by far the least impressive bottle I have ever had. A bit more coffee-like ruby-black colour in context, tender orange rim. Citrusy herb liqueur nose, cocoa and coffee dust. Soft sweet asphalt. Minor banana note. Good body. Hard to tell how oak-influenced this is. A bit grainier and dustier tannin than most. Medium-plus length. Recurring mocha/coffee dust on the aftertaste. Not exactly bad, but a disappointing showing given what a beautiful wine this can be. Rating: 89+?

Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From my collection. Faint coffee touch to orange-black, orange. Also showed a slight coffee touch to its orange-black colour, orange-yellow at the rim. Strong volatile leather polish to sweet candied-dried lemon and toffee. Soft marzipan. Quite candied overall. Good density and vinosity. Round and smooth. Medium-plus length. Not bad, but clearly going downhill, I am afraid. Rating: 89-

Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Schiena d'Asino 1990
From Victor’s collection. Medium-plus ruby-black with an orange-yellow hue and rim. Brown spice, soft lamb, preserved caper, some scorched oak to half-dried beef. Half sweet, half dry. A bit oakier than some, but not compressed. Medium-short on the finish. “Earthy-meaty”, “ripe” and “dusty” were some of the comments I overheard. Rating: 89-/88

Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From my collection. Slightly less fresh-looking ruby-black, faint orange hue only. Difficult to distinguish minor TCA taint and scorched oak rind oak combination. Medium-crystallized fruit. Soft chocolate. Faint asparagus touch. Short finish. Rating: 88- (or: N/R)

Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1990
From Victor’s collection. Similar, fresher colour, faint orange rim. The TCA taint here was even worse, what an unfortunate coincidence... Short dried mushroom, faint bitter note. A bit fruitless, just some dried blonde orange. A concentrated wine that might have been rather impressive without the cork taint, perhaps not especially fine or finesseful, but still, I would have loved to taste this in pristine condition. Rating: 87- (or: N/R)

Azienda Agricola Cerbaiola di Salvioni Giulio Brunello di Montalcino 1990
From Linden’s collection. Full orange-tinged ruby-black, orange rim. Soft volatility, almost imperceptible sweet leather and pipe tobacco top notes. Slightly weird wet stones and grassier herbs. Faint anchovy. No more than a hint at florality. Sweet nuts. Marble-scented if not glassy minerality. Medium-plus body. Barely medium length. Interesting, but I had hoped for a little more here. Rating: 88-/87

Raveneau Chablis Vaillons 1995
Thanks to Linden. Lightly to medium pale yellow-gold. Flowers and herbs. Soft spring butter, as if lightly salted. Pebbly minerals. Good but not too flavourful acidity. Lightly tannic. No excess fat. Fair intensity and depth, but not a fruit-filled kind of wine. Some lemon/lime, of course. Rather lean for the vintage, even a bit worn-out, Victor said. While I have certainly had better Raveneau, this was not bad. Rating: 88-/87-

Château Climens Barsac 1997
Half bottles ordered from Le Colombier’s wine list. Full fresh yellow-golden colour. Quite buttery dandelion and papaya, a touch of dryness on the nose, medicinal glue to the botrytis, slightly bitter. Quite full-bodied, lightly viscous, well-concentrated (seems equally as concentrated as the Yquem in this vintage). Not quite as clean, balanced and potentially harmonious as the Yquem, but there is undeniable long-term potential to the Climens, it should turn out really well. Liked this even better than when I last tasted it three years ago. Rating: 91+/92(+?)

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Last edited by David from Switzerland on Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:48 pm

I will need more time to properly digest your report David, but I am wondering (despite your comment that the wines drank well about your general thoughts on Brunello & the 1990 vintage. I don't see too many of your scores that would indicate the wines were worth the cellar space they used to mature (with the exception of about 4 wines).
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:10 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I will need more time to properly digest your report David, but I am wondering (despite your comment that the wines drank well about your general thoughts on Brunello & the 1990 vintage. I don't see too many of your scores that would indicate the wines were worth the cellar space they used to mature (with the exception of about 4 wines).


This may seem paradoxical, but honestly now, are you surprised? After all, we're talking about seventeen and a half years old Brunelli from probably the toughest, most austere vintage since at least 1978.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:23 am

David M. Bueker wrote:I will need more time to properly digest your report David, but I am wondering (despite your comment that the wines drank well about your general thoughts on Brunello & the 1990 vintage. I don't see too many of your scores that would indicate the wines were worth the cellar space they used to mature (with the exception of about 4 wines).


In hindsight, comparing earlier notes and ratings, I might divide the 1990 Brunelli we had in three categories today:
1. A majority of wines (adding a number not included at this tasting) were "best" back when they showed "youthful promise" (as vintner Daniel Gantenbein once told me, more often than not the best a wine has to offer ever), in the case of 1990 a combination of a youthfully dusty-tannic clout and primary fruit that in all but the very best wines included a jammy-superripe quality that I always thought detracted slightly from that optimal freshness, raciness, finesse and cut I look for in wine. These are all 1990s that proved what my friend Albino says about Sangiovese even from a top vintage: no use waiting for the acid backbone to ideally dissolve, let alone the wines to achieve the kind of harmony associated with other grape varieties, because the fruit tends to wear off rather more quickly than the tannin, and the acidity remains more or less the same. It is/was a matter of catching these wines at the subjectively "right" time. In contrast to some traditionally-styled Brunello (old-style Biondi-Santi etc.), the semi-modern 1990s were all best between the age of roughly 8 to 15 years old. Whether the more polished modern Brunelli marketed today will age "better" remains to be seen (note when I say "better", I never mean longer - that is a matter of preference and potential for immortality of the owner).
2. A handful wines showed about as well as could be expected, such as the Barbi Riserva, Caparzo's La Casa, Altesino's Montosoli. Again, one may have rated them a point or two higher during that stage of "youthful promise" - I never did, but I'm a skeptic.
3. Ironically, the biggest relative disappointment came from those wines that came out on top: neither of the two Solderas stood out by the usual margin (nor, for that matter, did Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona's Pianrosso show as well as it usually does). Such is life!

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by Eric Lo » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:21 pm

Wow, nice wines and nice notes!

I wished I have this wonderful opportunity!
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jul 18, 2008 1:17 pm

David,

I'm not really surprised about how the wines showed, but I didn't really appreciate your feelings around Brunello and specifically the 1990 vintage, until now. Initial balance is always a tricky thing, and much like a marginally struck golf shot, a small, even unoticeable, error at the starting point gets magnified down the road/fairway.

I only became a Brunello buyer (in very limited quantities) over the last few years, and see no great reason to keep up the habit, as the modern stylings have made so many of them taste like a bottle of Tignanello (of course that could be some illegal Cabernet sneaking in).
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by Oswaldo Costa » Fri Jul 18, 2008 1:33 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I only became a Brunello buyer (in very limited quantities) over the last few years, and see no great reason to keep up the habit, as the modern stylings have made so many of them taste like a bottle of Tignanello (of course that could be some illegal Cabernet sneaking in).


Hey, I like Tignanello! :shock:
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jul 18, 2008 1:42 pm

I like Tig too, but I don't want my Brunello to taste like Cabernet.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:40 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I'm not really surprised about how the wines showed, but I didn't really appreciate your feelings around Brunello and specifically the 1990 vintage, until now. Initial balance is always a tricky thing, and much like a marginally struck golf shot, a small, even unoticeable, error at the starting point gets magnified down the road/fairway.

I only became a Brunello buyer (in very limited quantities) over the last few years, and see no great reason to keep up the habit, as the modern stylings have made so many of them taste like a bottle of Tignanello (of course that could be some illegal Cabernet sneaking in).


The problem with 1990 is/was that it is somewhere between the truly polished/tamed style (across the board - exceptions always apply) which one could easily discard from the get-go, and the kind of big-boned structure one only got in exceptional wines before then, rather than whole vintages (simply because not as many producers were serious about making, um, serious money? Oops! Better wine is what I'm supposed to say, right?). To me, 1990 was a welcome tougher vintage for a change after the more harmonious 1988 on the one hand, on the other hand, my gut feeling was that the acid backbones would not wear off in time, and I hate to be right sometimes. This is also why I'd wanted to do this horizontal with Victor several years ago already. Thus my (still) positive surprise at how (relatively speaking) well the wines (still) showed. I'm really only holding on to 1990 Soldera and Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona at this stage, and the latter's showing in London made me think I'll have a next bottle sooner rather than later, just to make sure. As to the polished wines that abound today, I'm only half-curious as to how well they're going to age, that is, it's a more academic than genuine interest, to be honest. (Soldera, of course, remains Soldera - the problem there is pricing, which is why no one seriously enters his wines into the equation, even though in terms of what Brunello di Montalcino could and should be, one really should.)

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by Jenise » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:59 pm

It is/was a matter of catching these wines at the subjectively "right" time.


In other more recent vintages, namely 99 to 01, I own four of the wines you report here. Definitely food for thought about when I want to drink them--I have absolutely NO idea how to time them. But your note convinces me to want to err on the side of too early vs. too late.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:24 pm

Jenise wrote:In other more recent vintages, namely 99 to 01, I own four of the wines you report here. Definitely food for thought about when I want to drink them--I have absolutely NO idea how to time them. But your note convinces me to want to err on the side of too early vs. too late.


That's inevitably the right side, of course. But remember that in general Brunello has become so much more polished since 1990, it's no as we talked about the same style or sometimes even wines anymore. Want to share with us which four, maybe I or someone else knows them?

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by Ryan M » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:49 pm

I have a bottle of the Campogiovanni in my cellar, and was quite surpised to see the note here, which seems to be in line with Parker's not quite glowing review. On the other hand, Rogov, Spectator, and the users of Cellar Tracker seem to like it quite a bit. So, I asked Rogov if he would share his most recent note:
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=17217&p=145309#p145309

There seems to be a sentiment on Cellar Tracker, which is backed up by Rogov's note, that this needs a lot of time to open. In the horizontal above, was it perhaps a case where it needed more time in the glass, or simply a difference of palate? The reason I take interest is because I was planning on holding onto this one for couple decades yet. Also, it was one of the largest investments I've made for my cellar so far, so you can imagine that I want it to be very, very good!
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:12 pm

Ryan Maderak wrote:There seems to be a sentiment on Cellar Tracker, which is backed up by Rogov's note, that this needs a lot of time to open. In the horizontal above, was it perhaps a case where it needed more time in the glass, or simply a difference of palate?


A lot of time meaning more than several hours? The wines were all decanted well in advance, plus it took me maybe three hours to taste and retaste, and then after dinner finish the content of all my sample glasses. This was a bottle from my own collection, I doubt you'll find one that has been stored better. Will the wine die in bottle any time soon, if well-stored? No, it will continue to dry out (lose fruit and sweetness) and someday taste acidic, a bit tough, and possibly oxidative (it was one of the more oxidation-resistant 1990 Brunelli with airing at the tasting, so far, so good), as Brunello di Montalcino tends to do. Would I hold on to bottles? No, but I like wine in which all elements are in balance, ideally in harmony. All except the very best 1990 Brunelli (better bottles of either Soldera than we had, and the Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona and perhaps a couple more) are no longer improving. Then again, I like old (in contrast to mature) wine. I've had my share of wine necrophilia. Too keep wine until it is no more than "impressive for survival" (to borrow a phrase from an old acquaintance, Cor Balfoort, whom I have not seen in a very long time) on purpose can be, well, an adventure or a pity, depending on one's point of view.

Thanks for the link to Rogov's tasting note, by the way. It proves one thing, that this is not a matter of palate: that tasting note doesn't read unlike what I know (not the first, let alone only time I've had the 1990 Campogiovanni). I merely disagree (completely!) that the toughness of backbone (I agree wholeheartedly, those 1990 tannins are per se not at all objectionable in the eyes of people who, like myself, grew up with harder wines than people are used to today) will allow the wine to improve (versus age or even keep - not the same thing!) for two more decades. For wine to improve (or at least age harmoniously), it needs a little (or more) of everything.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by Ryan M » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:44 pm

Hello David,

Forgive me, I didn't read the bit about the wines having been decanted. So, a difference of opinion on whether the tannins will resolve - fair enough. Rogov's notes over the years for the 1975 Mouton offer an interesting perspective on that issue:

http://www.stratsplace.com/cgi-bin/sear ... =&UserID=4

http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zeroth ... 8492#68492

For all that I'm a young pup, I also enjoy hyper-mature and even old wines. But with a wine like this, what I want to do is catch it while it is as old as possible but still in its prime. Guess I'll just have to keep on eye on the notes that come up over the next decade or so.

Thanks,
Ryan
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by David from Switzerland » Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:05 pm

Ryan Maderak wrote:Hello David,

Forgive me, I didn't read the bit about the wines having been decanted. So, a difference of opinion on whether the tannins will resolve - fair enough.


Forgive me for pointing out the obvious: 1990 Brunello is not 1975 Bordeaux (some Merlot- and more Cabernet Franc-based ones are even "scarier" in their apparent youthfulness than Cabernet Sauvignon-based ones like the Mouton), let alone comparable to Bordeaux vintages like 1961, 1945 and 1928 Bordeaux. Incidentally, if you are looking for Brunello at least nearly as ageworthy, Biondi-Santi's 1975 Riserva would be a candidate (or the finest Brunello I know, Soldera's 1983 Riserva).

The problem is that Sangiovese is a high-acid variety whose acidity never wears off with age. The tannin, however tough, will in time. The problem with most Brunelli is that they don't have time, because they lack an equal amount of fruit density. Wine doesn't age on tannin alone, let alone well (= the difference between lesser and top 1975 Bordeaux today, I have no doubt Rogov - whom I don't know - would tell you the same). Vintages like 1929, 1959 and 1982 Bordeaux, 1927 Vintage Port etc. are perfect examples of apparently "easy" vintages that continue to age well even though people at the time thought they lacked tannic backbone. Wine needs an equal amount of all components (except, perhaps, acidity) to age well, it's not the obviously hard/tannic ones that do best, if it turns out their fruit density, sweetness, extract etc. is just a fraction leaner than their backbone.

As I alluded to earlier, it comes all down to the concept of "improvement" in bottle versus the mere ability of a wine to keep or age: the fact alone that a wine won't go off is not improvement. Now, as with other high-acid varieties, the last Brunello tends to lose before it dies is acidity, the second-to-last tannin and colour. That automatically leaves us with what it loses before that happens: that's what will throw its harmony off (note I'm European and do not use these terms interchangeably: harmony, usually of mature wine, is the result of balance, usually of young wine, thus balanced young wine has potential for harmony and unbalanced one doesn't, and thus also my sometimes use of expressions like "early harmony" etc.). Unfortunately, although I happen to love high-acid varieties (Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo being perhaps my favourite grape varieties), experience has taught me that they're more fickle in this regard, and that even if they achieve harmony (enter a plateau of maturity instead of having to be caught like a snapshot), wines need to be monitored carefully.

To cut a long story short, it's rarely a matter of "whether the tannins will resolve" - the question is: what else is going to be left by then?

By the way, like all collectors/fine wine nuts I tend to experiment with wines' ageworthiness. It remains a fact, however, that a bottle opened too early is never as much of a pity as one opened too late (no collector I know would maintain that the one positive surprise among a dozen duds was ultimately worth it). Having said that, the advice of others isn't half the fun as finding out for oneself, so I'd say, experiment away!

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
_________________

„J'ai gâché vingt ans de mes plus belles années au billard. Si c'était à refaire, je recommencerais.“ – Roger Conti
Last edited by David from Switzerland on Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: Brunello di Montalcino 1990 horizontal

by Ryan M » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:39 pm

I've asked Rogov for his thoughts on the matter:

viewtopic.php?f=29&t=17217&p=146892#p146892
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
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(avatar: me next to the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory)

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