Subtle aromas of oaked cassis, cherries, and hints of plum and red licorice. Smooth, dry tannins with flavors of cranberries and raspberries. Color is lovely and just starting to show its age. Probably best drunk this year.
Open at 2:30. You definately get the blue fruit of cabernet in there. Grippy like a brunello. Poised.
These Brunellos were drunk together in this order: flight one, 2001 Conti Costanti Riserva, 2003 Casanova di Neri, 2003 Siro Pacenti; flight two, 2003 Poggio Antico, 2001 Poggio Antico Altero, 2005 Poggio Antico Madre; flight three, 2001 Fuligni Riserva, 2002 Caparzo, 2001 Uccelliera, 2002 Argiano, 2003 Lisini. Served in Riedel’s Restaurant Series Sangiovese / Riesling I opened them at 2:30 and slowly drank them down. The bulk of the imbibing happened between 7 and 9 pm.
Conti Costanti seemed to be an excellent example of powerfully aromatic cherry, chocolate-y palate with dusty dry tannins. “Classic” Brunello. Or, to paraphrase Victor Hazan, “few can challenge Biondi-Santi in prestige but foremost among them is Costanti.” And hell, he’s married to Marcela.
Costanti yearns to be more classical than it is. Can an inanimate liquid long for the days of being dried to parching? Can it pine for the yesteryears of grouchy-old-farm-wife acidity? This is what Costanti seemed destined to be; but is falling short. Nicolas Belfrage comments that “[Costanti] has shed what toughness it once had.” Maybe old farm wives just can’t hawk their biscuits anymore. Also, whence Riserva? After having had several other Costanti’s I would rather have the normale than the Riserva simply based on price ($77 and $124 respectively). Call me Scrooge.
Once we drank the 2003 Casanova di Neri my worries about Costanti became irrelevant. Casanova is currently the greatest exemplar of anygrape-anywhere-98point wine. Is it Syrah? Cabernet? Sangiovese? Or maybe some funky Pecornio / Abruzzo blend (oh yeah, how do you know it isn’t?) At $70 it hits the habitual 98 point nail hard. If you taste in points you should go looking for this bargain of a wine but I hate to think what your sex life is like. Furthermore, Casanova does what it does so much better than the shameful Siro Pacenti ($24 more than Casanova and frankly tastes like $30 Grenache). After drinking these two I yearned for my Costanti back. By the way, Costanti was at its best 6-1/2 hours open while Casanova was jumpy right from the get go.
Poggio Antico was quite a mess, but a distinctive mess. The Brunello was corked (alas). The Altero was ferociously oaked on the nose but still distinctively Brunello. Six hours in it started resolving into something dramatic. Rest this for a couple of years and try again. Madre is the best example I have had of its type but that doesn’t mean it’s worth the same price as Tignello. On the other hand Tignello is so restricted these days I can’t seem to get it.
Next we began fooling around. The back half ran through Montalcino’s as yet undrawn crus as suggested by Franco Biondi Santi in the Decanter article Brunello on the Brink (August 2008 issue, page 52).
Fuligni took the cake with its densely layered, dramatically expressive aromatics. The big man says that wines from Fuligni’s region, Montalcino, are complex and balanced with beautifully rich bouquets. Read into this that they don’t have the palate weight of others in the zone. One disgruntled taster who hates Italian wine in general commented with a veiled undertone “Fuligni disguised the blending well.” This argument is a little bit like saying 30% of the population is gay and in the closet. Half of all Brunello producers are under indictment for blending in illegal wine, we just haven’t developed our Grosso-radar enough to be able to spot them (or them us!). Times do change, in this world and that. To get back to the point, was there a greater joy to go back and forth between the Costanti and the Fuligni? You can tell which ones were my favorites. My only regret is that I have not tried a non-reserve Fuligni and so cannot speak to the Reserva’s price.
Caparzo, the little green label that could, fell a touch flat being from 2002. Showing its mineral dexterity (is this what Montosoli is all about?) it was a good wine, and worth its bargain Brunello price of $43. Drink up.
Now big fun. Uccelliera, from Castelnuovo dell’Abate (which is fun to say fast after drinking 11 Brunellos) was simply a smash. Here is what this novice Brunello drinker believed to be a prime glance at Montalcino terrior. Powerful, muscular, expressive and fully and utterly worth its $74 asking price. Did I say Muscle? To lay down. More needs to be drunk from this region.
Tosca wept for Argiano’s 2002. The grand giant of Solengo fame is truly making blended shit. Not even the comment that Sant’ Angelo in Colle is all about rich, robust fruity Brunellos can save Argiano from its own hypocrisy. Drinking this wine leaves you in no doubt as to why they voluntarily declassified their entire 2003 vintage.
But let’s not paint the whole Sant' Angelo in shame. Like Castelnuovo, Montalcino in Sant’ Angelo seemed to be giving up a lesson in terrior to us. Opulent, lush, rich, and well worth the $83 asking price. In fact, given the flailing failing strength of the dollar this and the Uccey are probably under-priced (Poggio Antico was more recently imported hence $10 to $20 more).
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