Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tasty Brunello

Italian wines remain an enigma to me, mostly due to space constraints. With no room in my cellar to add representative multiple vintage samples of Brunellos, Barolos, Chiantis, Amarones and the like, I have only dabbled in the wines of Italy and probably have no more than 2 or 3 cases of the stuff (that crack inventory control system I use, aka my memory, is always on top of this sort of thing), with a couple of bottles of this and a few of that. Given this dabbling it's hard to establish any tasting benchmarks or favorite producers, though the 2001 Elio Grasso Barolo that I had with the guzzlers on this past New Year's Eve is on the top of a very short list. I've also had some wines that just don't do it for me. For example, as sacrilegious as it may be to the Italiophiles out there, I really don't like the various Antinori Tignanellos that I've had (3 or 4 different vintages), which I find overly rustic and rough hewn, with harsh tannins pummeling the wine's fruit into submission (just tried the 99 again last night and, while drinkable, I can't get past it's rough edges to really like this wine). At the same time I really want to figure out the many wines from Tuscany, Piedmont and elsewhere on the boot, knowing full well that there have been a number of fantastic Italian vintages over the past dozen or so years and that many quality Italian wines trade at relative bargain prices. The flames of that desire, however modest, were fanned when, at a business dinner for 8 at Valentino's in Santa Monica, I handed control over our wines to the wine steward, who brought out a 1998 Siepi, 1990 Pira, 1995 Costanti and a 1983 Masi; thank God it was someone else's credit card!

So I get one of those email ticklers about some bargain Brunellos and I fight the double click reflex, knowing how much of a sucker for alleged bargains that I am. After ignoring the email for a day or two I finally look, see that there are a couple 1999 Brunellos for sale at K&L Wines, up in the bay area (it just opened a shop in Hollywood too, a place I need to avoid like Vegas). I buy wines from all over (duh!) and find K&L to often have the best prices, a good monthly newsletter and educated down to earth sales folks. I believe K&L when it advertises a sale price and I picked up three bottles of a couple of '99s, though I can't tell you exactly how many b/c I forgot where I stuck them in the cellar. Fortunately I came across one the other day, to my surprise, and popped the cork. The wine was a 1999 Brunello di Montalcino Vendemmia Tenuta Caparzo. I've seen this wine listed well over $50 a bottle, but I paid $30 at K&L and feel smart for making the exchange.

Tasting Notes: Garnet in the glass, black cherry and wet earth on the nose, notes of crushed roses, violets and bitter chocolate mid-palate, blackberry and currants. Finish of tar and black fruit. Dusty and a bit rustic. Powerful tannins with lots of life here--I may have opened it too soon.

Rating: Tasty.

Cheers, Barrld
PS James Suckling bugs the shit out of me; I sometimes read his blog posts at the WS and know that he's forgotten more about wine then I will ever know but he such an over the top braggart, smug and obsequious I just felt the need to say something. Read his Valentine's Day post--completely unnecessary and obnoxious. Plus, I think he's gone native in Italy, and has an overly gilded view of its wines--look at his WS insider report from 2/7 to confirm my speculation.

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