Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Good wine. Great news. What a nice start to the school year.

Good evening Wineocrats! We're already 7 days into September and this is my first post for the month. I could claim some sort of Labor Day Weekend break, but that doesn't excuse September 1st or 2nd. What a complacent wine snob I've been....

The good news is that I more than made up for it this evening and this past weekend. In fact, I have so much to share that I'm going to break up the past few days of tasting into two different posts.

Earlier tonight I attended a tasting of three of Marchesi de Frescobaldi's wines. We began with the 2005 Castel Giocondo Brunello de Montalcino. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I tend to think of Italian wines as having a dusty, earthy quality. This characterization is not always fair, but for some reason it's what first comes to mind when I think of Italian wines. Luckily, I'm often pleasantly surprised (and often very wrong). As soon as I sniffed the Castel Giocondo Brunello de Montalcino, I got a nice nose full of blackberries with some secondary herbal and slightly oak-y notes. One taster felt the wine was too oak-y, but I believe it was well balanced. On the palate, I tasted a good bit of the black fruit, some sweet spices and a little bit of the oak. The wine was very dry with a good deal of acid and tannins which indicates it could age nicely. Yet there was something missing. As I eyed the salumi plate, the immortal words of Jenna Maroney from the show 30 Rock kept running through my brain, "Me want food!"

However, I wanted to get a sense of the other two wines without food so I restrained myself from wrestling the meat and cheese plate and moved on to the 2007 Lucente and the 2007 Luce. These wines come from Marchesi de Frescobaldi's Luce vineyard, which initially started as a partnership with the Mondavi family in 1985. These wines seem to be made for a more American palate. The 2007 Lucente is a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. I initially loved the nose. It seemed to have a nice blend of fruit, oak and a hint of the gamey quality I love. However, on subsequent sniffs, I couldn't get anything but oak. Once I took a sip, I found the wine to be nice enough, but nothing special. A bit jammy with too much oak. And as much as I like Cabernet Sauvignon, I felt it overpowered the rest of the blend.

I found the Luce, a Sangiovese and Merlot blend, a lot more enjoyable. The nose and palate were full of dried cherries with some herbs and some oak on the finish. This wine was a bit smoother than the previous one, though not as substantial or seemingly as complex as the initial wine we tried.

Plus, I was eager to get back to the Brunello while introducing myself to the various dry cured meats on the table. I tried a piece of prosciutto and it was good, but a little too delicate for the wine. I then went for a piece of Genoa. Bingo. The acid and fruit of the Brunello perfectly cut through the oily saltiness of the Genoa. After adding a few pieces of Paremsan to the mix, it was time for me to take one last sip, make my final comments and find my way to the elevator.

As good as the wine was, I think the best part was when someone from The Wine Spectator told me I seemed to know what I was talking about. Or maybe it was when I came out of the tasting to find an e-mail from my instructor, Will, telling me that I'd passed my Advanced Wine and Spirits Education Trust Exam - WITH MERIT!

I was tempted to run back up and grab the rest of the Brunello to celebrate. Instead I decided to come back hear to share the moment with you. Yes, I'm pretty sure I made a poor choice on this one.....

Well, until tomorrow when I continue my tales of sniffing, sipping and quaffing,


Alli M.


elliej said...

Mazel tov on passing your exam WITH MERIT!! And you thought you hadn't done well...We're very proud of our family sommelier. What a positive way to start the new year!

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