WTN: Two mature wines

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WTN: Two mature wines

Postby Robert Helms » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:32 am

Over the last couple of days, I happened to open two mature wines:

1995 L'Angelus St Emilion Grand Cru
Mature, quite complex, mostly secondary flavors of leather, cedar, some tobacco; some dark fruit. Nice, quite long. Tannins fully mature and not especially obvious, moderate acidity. Overall, an excellent wine and one that can be drunk now or held.

1999 Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico (the reserve bottle)
A step up in power, complexity of flavors and length. Secondary flavors are more intense and more complex with leather, cedar, sandlewood, tobacco, some spices and dark fruits. Tannins fully mature with somewhat higher acidity. Great length and a real pleasure with every sip. I really regret that that was my last bottle. Outstanding

If the L'Angelus was a "this is really a very, very good wine" intellectual sort of thing, the Fonterutoli was a "damn that's good" over and over. It just proves once again that aging better Sangiovese for 10-15 years is worth the wait. So one would be better off throwing some 2007 Fonterutoli in the cellar than 2009 Angelus. The Fonterutoli would cost about €40 and the Angelus €240.

Regards

Robert
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Re: WTN: Two mature wines

Postby Tim York » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:12 pm

Thanks for the notes, Robert. Indeed, best mature (up to 20 year) Chianti and Sangiovese IGTs, like Fontalloro and Flaccianello, represent far better QPR, IMO, than most Bordeaux of similar quality.

Of course, some exceptional Bordeaux can go on improving past 30 years. I don't have any similar experience with Chianti. I recall a Florentine restaurant between the Duomo and the station (was it Sabatini?) where about 25 years ago some friends and I sampled a few venerable Chianti vintages at ridiculously low prices by present standards. Some were dried out and the others unmemorable but, since then, overall standards have gone up immensely as well as the prices.
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Re: WTN: Two mature wines

Postby Robert Helms » Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:56 pm

Tim,

I agree that there are a few Bordeaux that continue to improve and improve but my sense these days is that it is really only those exceptional wines (Haut Brion 89 and 90, Cheval Blanc 90 and the ilk) that really develop into something outstanding. I ranked the L'Angelus 95 towards the top of its vintage and I suspect that is where it ranks today. But these above average Bordeaux tend to remain on the lean side and therefore remain a bit short of outstanding. And so they deliver less pleasure than they should for the money involved. As an aside, the Beringer Private Reserve 1991 has developed into an outstanding wine.

In the super-long aging heap, I put the better Tempranillos ahead of all else, including Bordeaux and Port. I have had Riojas of 50 to 90 years old that are still compelling and seem almost unaffected by time.

My own feeling is that Sangiovese do dry out sometime between 15 and 20 years. But some of that may be that the Italians really do not understand proper wine storage. Do you know that there does not exist a single commercial wine storage company in Italy? The Italians seem to store their wine by throwing it in the cellar or a closet and hoping that that will be enough. Like you, I have had a number of dried out older Sangiovese, but not from good storage, and I do worry more about making sure that I drink my Italians in a timely fashion than most other wines. But I still have cases of stuff from 1997, 1999 and 2001 at Octavian and everything I have pulled out is in rude health.

Regards,

Robert
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