A casual tasting from a 1975 Spanna to a 2012 Favorita
A last minute offering to host some friends at the house resulted in four of us tasting through some excellent wines. With a little bit of back and forth Lou, David, and Bill settled down in my living room with variety as our theme. We began with a Piedmontese white wine which is something I have never tried before. The 2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi is made from Favorita which is a relative of Vermentino. Tim (MacArthur Beverages) pointed this wine out to me and I am glad he did. I was surprised by the floral aromas and even more so by the waxy, sweet lemon fruit, and substantial mouth feel. It turns out the grapes are harvested ten days after maximum ripeness so as step everything up. There were comparisons to Loire Chenin Blanc so if this sounds remotely interesting then you must grab a few bottles.
I kicked off the red wines by serving the 1975 Antonio Vallana, Gattinara in a paper bag. I had double-decanted the bottle two hours prior. Both then and during the tasting I arrested by the amount of sweet fruit and freshness of the flavors. Indeed, many guesses settled towards Bordeaux from the 1989 or 1990 vintages. This wine reflected its outstanding provenance as you would expect from a Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Company) selection. While it comes across as fresh it has complexity from age. Spanna is the local name for Nebbiolo. If you have any interest in Barolo or Barbaresco then this wine must be on your list of bottles to try.
We moved onto younger wines. The first bottle of 1998 Contratto, Solus Ad, Barbera D’Asti was recently brought back from Rome by Lou. Popped and poured, this bottle offered up coffee infused aromas and flavors. Its heft was balanced by a certain roundness making it a solid, aged Barbera. The 2001 Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino continued to offer deep, dark fruit flavors that were an easy match for the substantial structure. At 15 years of age, I found it hard to resist this bottle since the harshness of youth is all gone. It will continue to develop. I want to try more Brunello.
We then moved to the Rhone in the form of another brown-bagged wine. The fruit in the mouth was substantial, which gave me some doubt as to the origins, but I think we all pinned the floral aromas as being from a Syrah and Viognier blend from the Northern Rhone. There were even guesses as to Cote Rotie but no one got the vintage correct. The wine turned out to be the 2003 Duclaux, Cote Rotie. David picked it in response to a 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape tasting where none of the wines were found to be overripe. The 2003 vintage was very hot and has its critics. This bottle of Cote Rotie exhibited the vintage by dialing up the fruit a notch (or two!) without losing any characteristics of the varieties and region.
This was the last good wine we tried. The bottle of 2007 Bastide St Dominique, Les Hesperides, Chateauneuf du Pape was “troubling” with a consensus that it was heat damaged. I returned with a brown-bagged 2003 Archery Summit, Pinot Noir, Arcus Estate, Willamette Valley. David had mentioned the Archery Summit, Arcus in a winter time conversation so I thought this would match with his 2003 theme. Let’s just say the guesses leaned towards Spanish Grenache. This massive wine bore no resemblance to Pinot Noir. While it was not an off bottle, no one drank it. Why bother when there were so many good wines to return to?
2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi – $25
Imported by The Sorting Table. This wine is 100% Favorita. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose attracted with heavy floral aromas which were rather sexy. In the mouth the flavors were waxy with sweet fruit and lemons. There is acidity in the start with some chalk in the finish and an aftertaste that left ripe texture on the gums. If it is a little expansive in the middle then it reigns it in by the finish. *** Now.
1975 Antonio Vallana, Gattinara
Imported by the Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12%. Bottom-neck fill. There is a little funk and animale on the complex nose which reminds me of some 1960s Californian wines. In the mouth there is still sweet fruit, lovely acidity, and a impeccable quality of freshness. The wine is still structured leaving fine grip on the gums. The fruit mixes with floral notes before taking on a hint of tartness. **** Now but will last for ages.
1998 Contratto, Solus AD, Barbera D’Asti
Imported in a suitcase. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose evoked coffee and shoyu. In the mouth the flavors continued with coffee infused dark fruit. The wine was rounded with some density but did not overreach into sexiness. There is a roast note to the fruit, good acidity, and fine, drying tannins in the finish. *** Now – 2021.
2001 Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by Wine Cellars Ltd. Alcohol 14%. The deep dark fruit is never ending which acts as a counterpoint to the substantial amount of tannins. As substantial as the wine is, the acidity is bound in allowing the fruitiness to be enjoyed. With additional air it takes on hints of wood. This is still young and will continue to develop for several more years. **** Now – 2026.
2003 Duclaux, Cote Rotie
Imported by Chateau & Estate. This wine is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier which were co-fermented in concrete vats then aged for roughly two years in a variety of oak casks. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose is meaty with some maturity and a floral aspect pointing to Viognier. There is a substantial amount of fruit in the mouth with a lot of drying tannins. This mouth filling wine is slightly sexy. If the fruit is almost effusive at the start it takes on tart red and black notes which balance everything out. A pleasure to drink but will persist. ***(*) Now – 2021.