A few nights ago, several co-workers and I, alongside Cecilia and Heather, tasted a cool range of Italian whites and three piemontese reds from 1990s.
Though there was a definite TCA issue with the reds (2 of 3 bottles were suspected to be corked) it was not so bad as to not get a sense of what the wines were about.
Here were the reds:
1999 Bruno Rocca 'Rabajolo' Langhe Rosso
Big, woody, smoked hickory and dark berry fruit aromas lead to a heavy palate that lightened somewhat after a bit of breathing. Still a bit more robust, and not as layered, as I was expecting. Nebbiolo, barbera, cab.
1997 Rivetti Bricco de Neveis Barbaresco
While this seemed to be mildly corked, it did not seem as obvious as the barolo below. But Guido would say that the reverse is true. Either way, this is a much more evolved wine than the '96 Colonello barolo. Spicy, savory, and in need of a piece of roasted lamb.
1996 Bussia Soprana Barolo 'Vigna Colonello'
An immediate whiff of wet, musky cardboard corkiness was apparent. However, on the palate there was bright red fruit, some vibrancy, delicacy, and an iron minerality, with just a hint of cork taint manifesting itself on the mid-palate and in a clipped finish. This was still young but beginning to ever so slowly inch towards maturity. I'd love to someday try a bottle that is not corked.
And the whites:
2006 Marco Porello Arneis
Not the best bottle of this wine - it usually crackles and pops with more clearly defined appley fruit and brighter acidity. On many other occasions I have enjoyed this wine, however.
2006 Lis Neris Fiore di Campo IGT
Aged in neutral oak barrels, this shows classic tocai palate weight and nutty savor. There is some fruit that is tough to describe, and good persistence. We all noticed the fact that it is a bit hot on the finish. Apparently this is a 3 bicchieri wine. Not to discredit the wine or Gambero Rosso, but come on now people...I've noticed that tocai has the tendency to achieve fairly high (in this case 14%) levels of alcohol.
2004 Garlider Veltliner Alto Adige (Sudtiroler)
Nearly my favorite wine of the night, this Italian rendition of the Austrian grape is full of juicy pear fruit. The fruit is of a dripping, ripe character, but still held in check with acdity and some typical gruner veltliner white pepper flavors. There are woodsy floral notes as well, which, coupled with the broad, rich, intense flavors, bring to mind a white burgundy just beginning to show a bit of development. Terrific wine.
2001 Benanti 'Pietramarina' Bianco Superiora Etna D.O.C.
100% carricante from the volcanic soil around Mt. Etna. I have had some very good white wines from Sicily, one of them also from Mt. Etna, but to quote my man Clay Davis, "Sheeeeeeeeit!" This was incredible. The acidity, minerality and overall 'wow' factor are at least one step up from the veltliner. This wine had intense gardenia and coriander notes on the nose, with some stone fruit as well. On the palate, more stone fruit, specifically a perfectly ripe nectarine, with great minerality as I mentioned earlier, and intense lime flavors on the finish. Acidity grabs hold of the sides of your tongue and clings there. This gem is delicious now and built to last. For how much longer I can't exactly say, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was even better in 5 years, and still terrific in 10. Maybe I'm grossly underestimating the lifespan of this wine, though.
Thanks to Guido, David D and Mike D for making this such a fun evening.