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(last edited 1/26/2013 7:08:50 AM by jrglm)

Valdicava Regular/Riserva/Rosso

Dear Friends,

This is one of those offers that the naysayers love to spew venom and suspicion over but that will leave more for the rest of us...

One of my top priorities is digging deeper than the norm and that often places those from more formal cultures in a tad of an uncomfortable situation. Americans (in general, not Seattleites) tend to push not once but twice or thrice when the answer they receive is not up to snuff. In other countries, once is enough – if a party answers a question, that answer is taken as the gospel or as an understanding that you are not to ask again. In the spirit of decorum, many in Europe are taken aback when asked the same question 2-3 additional times to politely make sure their first response was indeed the full monty.

In the US, we tend to approach almost everything with a sense of jubilation and suspicion in the same tippy-toe leap. If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is...

...except for today’s offer of course...which will be nearly impossible to top (more suspicion: use of the phrase “impossible to top”).

When I casually asked the powers that be about 2011 Brunello (from a heat-wave vintage that had a chance to mirror 2003 but thankfully ended up much closer to a combination of 1985 and 2000 due to greater water reserves from winter/summer rain), all they wished to discuss was the grand (potential “vintage of the century”) 2010 wines. “Don’t ask about 2011 just yet, lets talk about the incredible 2010 wines – they will be very expensive but worth it”).

2010 will be horded and traded back and forth for years – it is a fantastic vintage, not unlike 2010 in Bordeaux....

...but what about the underdog vintage, 2011?

“well, if you must ask...the wines were unsure at first but now are, well, REALLY interesting...quite forceful and awkward in style today but also really good...but I have 2010 first to discuss”....this is starting to sound like the Burgundians when they had stocks of 2009 and wished to ignore discussion on 2010.

While 2011 in Brunello is nothing close to 2010 in Burgundy, it is not a total loss by any means. Mark my tasting stem, there will be wine that rivals 2010 from the vintage but it will be very different in style and will not not be far and wide. You had to be in just the right spot (climactically) to produce a 2011 Brunello that was not marked by the vintage but that does not make those “marked” wines impolite or bad. Think of the 2011’s in a similar fashion to 2009 in Chateauneuf du Pape – very masculine, low-yield wines that will be preferred by those that seek a heady, powerful style (over their more classic, deeply balanced, perfumed and $ 2010’s).

If you’re still with me...

That’s where Valdicava comes in.

Valdicava has high standards.

They request ample remuneration for their effort and, in exchange, they guarantee to you (the consumer) that their wine is worth $100-200+/bottle. When it doesn’t quite meet the $100 level (or, in the case of their Riserva Madonna del Piano, the $150-250 level), Vincenzo Abbruzzese has a decision to make – place all of the Madonna del Piano into the regular Brunello or eliminate the Rosso and concentrate all of the material in one Brunello that will trade for $80-120. A decision that has serious financial repercussions for Valdicava but they would rather have one Brunello than nothing at all.

That is why today's offer and its debut of a decision by Vincenzo Abbruzzese to throw his hands up with his 2011’s and say “this is not elegant enough for a Valdicava, I'm going to bottle all of the Madonna, Brunello and Rosso as a single wine” is a landmark decision from one of the most influential producers in the region.

What is even more interesting (ok, it's actually shocking) is that he’s offered it (on pre-arrival only) for $31+.

No, not $81+


So, in 2011 you will receive the material for the regular Brunello, Madonna del Piano and Rosso all in the same bottle for a tariff that is a laugh for Valdicava.

A laugh.

It will be labeled as “Rosso di Montalcino” and, yes, the wine is atypical but this terroir has an uncommon way of sorting itself out in the long run - my bet is on the 2011 “Valdicava” to turn into a beautiful butterfly when all is said and done...let's check back in 6-10 years and see who is holding one of the top bargains in Montalcino...

Jon Rimmerman
Seattle, WA

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