8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Friday, March 15, 2013

When it comes to drinking older wines, I’ve discovered that what people like can partially depend on what they think constitutes “good” versus “over the hill”. There are some wines which, by anyone’s account, can be considered old: for example, a 1920 Bordeaux or 19th-century anything. On the other hand, many would shy away from cracking a recent vintage of Bartolo Mascarello Barolo. Yet the levels of complexity that a wine develops over time are the barometer for our own tastes: What one person may experience as the pinnacle of a wine’s maturity, another might see as halfway down the cliff.

I recently discovered my own sweet spot in a bottle of 1974 Fabrizio Bianchi Sangioveto Grosso by Castellodi Monsanto. This was the first vintage of this particular wine; it was also one of the first wines in Chianti to be made exclusively from Sangiovese, and was sourced from a single cru — Scanni vineyard. The wine was in the perfect state of aging, with intricate layers of mushroom, meat and soft spice brandishing the flag of slow oxidation. Yet there was also liveliness in the cherry fruit and the subtle piney aromatics usually found in a younger Tuscan Sangiovese. As I held on to the wine and let it open, these two layers danced together on the nose and palate, to my utter delight. The wine then continued to evolve throughout our meal, pairing wonderfully with roasted pork loin and fava beans. 

- William Leonard-Lee 


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