Home > Fair, Poor, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > A bit too old, Monte Antico and Pio Cesare from 1979

A bit too old, Monte Antico and Pio Cesare from 1979

My friend Sudip is a gambling man who is all for trying any old vintage of wine.  A gamble and a bit of recklessness was all that was required to try the 1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany.  Neil and Maria Empson started Monte Antico in 1977, some five years after founding their wine importing company.  Monte Antico is a super-Tuscan wine, meaning it is a blend of Sangiovese with international varieties, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Super-Tuscans grew in popularity during 1970s.  This particular wine is one I drank with some occurrence during my university years in the 1990s because it was affordable.  I had no expectation it would be a decent drink or even palatable, being a budget wine, but the bottle looked good, the price was cheap, and it reminded me of times past.  The color was in the autumnal brown spectrum and the nose was advanced, as in roasted earth.  But in the mouth it was surprisingly round with hints of sweet fruit that developed into licorice.  But for the nose it would rate higher.


Two wines from the same vintage makes for more fun.  I expected the 1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva to be better than the Monte Antico and it was.  This was another cheap purchase made years ago.  After an hour of air, I simply pulled the cork.  The wine gave all that it could.  The fruit has departed leaving leather and mushroom but the lively, tense acidity still remains.  It fades soon in the glass.  Neither bottle was finished but other young wines were.  Sudip had fun.


1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany
Shipped by Neil Empson.  Imported by Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose initially smelled of roasted earth then celery.  It is much better in the mouth, round with hints of sweet fruit.  Certainly old but bits of fruit and licorice come out.  Two stars for flavor but overall  * Now.


1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva
Imported by Paterno Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Though an advanced color it had a lively tension.  It is simple at first and surprisingly closed.  After an hour of air it opened up.  All fruit gone having left just bottle aged flavors of leather, mushroom, and a very fine texture.  ** Now.


  1. November 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    There were not any good vintages in southern Tuscany between 1975 and 1985, nor in Barolo; and so we might not expect any such wines to have lasted until now. However, recent reports suggest that a 1978 Barolo might well be another thing entirely, even from a minor producer.

    • November 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm


      Thanks for commenting. I still owe you a reply to your last email! I certainly had zero expectations for the Monte Antico and in general have stayed away from most older Tuscans. These two wines were tasted more for fun because they were dirt cheap to buy. Now I would not pass up a 1978 Barolo. I did open a 1978 Carlo Boffa, Barbaresco Riserva Vigna Vitalotti a few weeks back which was very solid. Nebbiolo of that vintage from better producers should be quite good.


      • November 10, 2016 at 2:55 pm

        Looking over my own records for older Tuscan vintages, the only relatively cheap ones I can find were both from good vintages in Chianti:
        Barone Ricasoli Brolio Riserva 1964
        Castelli del Grevepesa Castelgreve 1971
        These cost me about $US25-30 each on eBay, back in 2009 (shipping cost more than the wine!).
        They had both lost most of their primary characters, but still had a great deal of complexity, and were fun to drink.

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