Monday, March 16, 2009

1997 Massa Vecchia La Fonte di Pietrarsa Maremma Toscana IGT

Vintage 1997
Type Red
Producer Massa Vecchia
Variety Cabernet Sauvignon
Designation La Fonte di Pietrarsa
Country Italy
Region Tuscany
SubRegion Maremma
Appellation Maremma Toscana IGT
Price $46.99

The Little Wooden Guy likes older Cabernets.

Night One

The color shows the age of the wine. It is brick red with the first hints of orange at the edges. The nose is classic older Cabernet, leading with florals, nuts and tarragon, rather than big fruit. Some plums were behind all of that, but did not dominate at all. The palate, too, is far more floral than fruity.

Violets take the lead on the palate, followed by tarragon and a touch of mushroom. Leather and grilled meat join the prior flavors, rather than replacing them, on the mid-palate. The finish is long, tannins are smooth and no longer predominate. This seems to be near the end of its life, perhaps just a bit over its peak. I will be interested to see how it fares on Night Two.

Night Two

The wine drank almost exactly the same as on Night One, except it was even better knit-together. It was wonderful and is clearly peaking right now. It am thrilled I have three more bottles, and will drink them over the next few months.

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1 comment:

BB said...

David, I have never posted a comment in my life on the internet, and would have preferred to have e-mailed you directly, but the philosophy behind your site needs to be congratulated and popularised.

It is something I have been saying to friends for over 15 years, but the wine press consistently ignores. The elitist view is that oxidation is a fault. Wines have to spring out of the bottle and be drinkable within an hour, or two. If not, they are not well made, and the 'degradation' through oxidation after opening only exposes the flaws of the wine, and the winemaker.

Instead of receiving free wines I have to pay for all my wines, and if it tastes better after two days, as, I believe, some 80% of red wines under 5 years do,I am all the happier. In essence, I am getting a much more enjoyable wine, for the same price on day two than on day one.

When I saw the title of your blog I thought, 'This is bizarre. What is it all about?' Made no sense. Perhaps I should explain how I came across you, which, I think, will make you smile.

We are off to Tuscany in 5 days time and I wanted to track down one of the finest wines I have ever tasted, certainly the best Italian wine I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. This was probably around 1996-97. So was Googling the wine, 1994 Massa Vecchia, La Fonte di Pietrarsa.

I had invited an english friend of mine who was teaching at, I think, Johns Hopkins School, in Florence, but who was visiting London, over for dinner. As we both liked wine I had already opened a couple of good bottles, but when he proferred the Massa Vechia on arrival, I un-corked it, out of courtesy, even though I had, of course, never heard of it, and felt that I had already opened some very good wines. Anyway, we probably talked too much, didn't drink enough, and by the time he departed it was untouched. Before putting the cork back in, I felt that I had better just give it a taste. I was very disappointed. At least, familiar with the myth of the 'Super Tuscans', I thought, 'This is utterly undrinkable.' It was so tannic and unyielding that I could not believe that it would be drinkable the next night, nor in five or ten years. Tasting it the following evening only confirmed my appraisal. I returned late the third day and went straight to bed. When I tried it the fourth night, prior to pouring it down the sink, the experience and pleasure was unprecedented. The melange of 'smokeiness', chocolate, cabernet sauvignon, smoothness and longevity on the palate was difficult to imagine. And, from recollection, that persisted to the fifth night as well!

A year or so later when my friend had re-located back to London I persauded him to exchange me three bottles, of the several, that he had brought back with him for an equally idiosyncratic wine and favourite of mine, a Gigondas, Les Pailieroudas of Edmund Burle.

Sadly, we subsequently lost touch, so I never learned of his appreciation of the Burle wine, but can only believe that, owing to the vintage, I may well have got the better part of the exchange.

If I can actually purchase some of said wine from the vineyard on this trip it will afford a nice opportunity to revive a lost friendship.

The main point, however, as I am sure you must tell your friends, is, never, never, never throw wine away without tasting it first. Reds (under 5 years) will almost invariably be better the second night.

The whole philosophy is to learn about the wines that you possess, through experimentation, so that you can enjoy them at the moment that gives you greatest pleasure.

By way of example, it has been quite hot recently here in London and I have been enjoying red wines, cabernet sauvignons and shiraz, kept four days, after being opened (at correct temperature), in the fridge and which are far more pleasurable than when first opened. I say 'pleasurable', but I really mean 'better' wines.

Good luck. Best regards, Bryan