TN: Vincent Girardin Santenay Gravières 1995, Duca Enrico 1990, Summus 1995
For my "verbal rating system", see postscript, if necessary.
<b>Castello Banfi Summus 1995</b>
There are wines whose (non-)evolvement in bottle I find disturbing. The most prominent example of such a wine, and the first time the following metaphor occurred to me, is the 1994 Harlan, a wine much like a rock thrown into a mountain river destined to become a pebble in time, though essentially still the same chunk of stone. The 1995 Summus behaves similarly. My parents once bought a six-pack and they have now two bottles left, and every time I got to taste this, it only seemed to have become a slightly smaller version of itself. There are barely any tertiary aromas and flavours developing. The fruit seems less and less fresh and lively, the tannin barely mellowed, deepened in flavour or at all different. That being said, this blend of 45% Sangiovese Grosso, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah, which needs decanting due to a little sediment and at least half an hour's airing as it tends to start out fairly tight, is not bad at all, the 1995 in particular nowhere the oakiness of the most recent release of the same bottling, the 2001. There is nothing overtly wrong with this wine, which my father calls "gastronomic on a somewhat higher plane", but its behaviour in bottle as well as (sorry if this sounds weird) the absence of a life-generating feel to it remind me of pasteurised milk. It is not so bad as with some (usually processed food) products that seem to be taking away, energetically absorb almost like black holes, instead of providing one with new life. Maybe I have had this hobby of wine-tasting and appreciation for too long not to notice a difference in impact on body and soul that goes beyond what I am able to make sense of. Retains an opaque plummy-ruby colour by the way, and a nicely firm, mouth-cleansing backbone of acidity and tannin, mixed crystallised berry and soft pruney table grape flavours and fair enough length. Not fair perhaps to single out this wine for a tendency affecting much of what we owe to modern wine-growing and -making technology. About excellent (only?), as always.
<b>Vincent Girardin Santenay Gravières 1995</b>
My parents last bottle of this wine was not one of the best from the case I had once bought for them. Always wine with seemingly a stonier minerality, it was rather smoky this time, too, then oxidised more quickly than usually, getting sweeter and interestingly somewhat traditional-style Nebbiolo-like for a Pinot Noir. Usually excellent to outstanding, this bottle may not have been ever-so-slightly faulty (one of two out of twelve, although I would be hard-pressed to say what exactly was wrong, maybe just corks that did not provide a perfectly air-tight seal), but was still very good quality.
<b>Duca di Salaparuta Corvo Duca Enrico 1990</b>
My last bottle, which I opened for Dani and my parents. Retains a full, rather youthful ruby-red with strong black reflections and barely any orange at the rim. Amarone-like sweet currants and Kirsch chocolate truffle floating atop graphite-like minerality and lively acidity and still nicely firm tannin, of which most seems fully resolved by now, though. Spicy green and black pepper, dried tarragon and dill, a faint polished leather top notes. Good length on the balanced and palate-cleansing finish. Truly outstanding Nero d'Avola that will still keep, though hardly improve any longer.
Greetings from Switzerland, David.
I usually avoid using numerical scores on the web (in order to avoid e-mails solely concentrating on the virtues of numerical rating, since I'd really rather talk about the wines themselves). For those who have problems interpreting my "verbal scoring", the numerical correspondences are as follows:
79 and below = NOT GOOD (i.e. no need to figure out exactly)
80 – 84 = GOOD (same as 16 and over in the European 20-point system)
85 – 89 = VERY GOOD (same as 17 and over; I sometimes use EXCELLENT or ALMOST-OUTSTANDING to indicate 88 – 89)
90 – 94 = OUTSTANDING (same as 18 and over)
95 – 99 = GREAT (or CLASSIC, same as 19 and over; I sometimes use NEAR-PERFECT to indicate a 98 – 99 score)
100 = PERFECT (20 out of 20)
Note I will rarely buy wine below my own EXCELLENT rating (that's where wine really starts standing out for individuality from the mass of technically impeccably-made wines) except for an occasional and there truly exceptional QPR (I must insist any wine in the VERY GOOD category with me is serious stuff, way above average wine, that I still wouldn't buy because I've got to somehow limit my wine buying). But if a wine is costly, it had better be at least OUTSTANDING!