Tastings are back in full swing and keeping us busy. However, whilst these events are a perk of the job, not all of them, or the wines showcased, are wholeheartedly successful.
The recent Nebbiolo day held in London happened to coincide with a transport strike; as we had cycled there and inevitably had to cycle back we were a little more selective in our tasting. Several glasses of wine at 2 o’clock in the afternoon doesn’t make for the safest of journeys home.
We were slightly disappointed to find one of the producers we stock has headed down a more modern style of Nebbiolo that tasted perhaps a little too smooth. This can sometimes be vintage specific where a little more new oak has been used to create a better balance but it’s a good reminder for us to keep a close eye on future production.
There were some great Barolo from Brovia: earthy, bright and pure; as well as Elvio Cogno, who married concentrated fruit with a light, fresh finish.
The stand out wines of the event came from Vietti, a long held family run estate whose Barolos and Barbarescos are known for their elegance. Whilst we have understood their charm we have questioned their occasionally high prices (mostly set by demand on the secondary market rather than the release price set by Vietti themselves). However, in a room filled with Nebbiolo wines these stood out for their floral, almost ethereal nose, and the bright but delicate balance created between fruit and oak.
The new vintage releases from Tenuta San Guido are due later in the spring but we were given the chance to taste them last month. As always the Le Difesewas the easy, soft, crowd pleasing red wine it was designed to be and the 2020 offers the usual good value. The 2020 Guidalberto was young and will need a year or two before it can be fully approachable but it had bright, almost tart acidity with plenty of dark berry fruit. We also tried the 2012 Guidalberto which was a good reminder of how well this wine ages. It sits comfortably in the gap between Sassicaia and Le Difese and offers a fine, well-made Bordeaux blend with a touch of complexity but nothing too thought provoking.
The 2019 Sassicaia is already being talked of as a contender for the title of best vintage after the 1985 and 2016. We prefer to tread a little more cautiously in predicting this wine’s future but, having tasted it and knowing the growing conditions from that year, we can appreciate the sentiment. The nose was subtle almost closed and the many layers this wine is known for were well hidden. It was wonderfully bright though with a long finish and good grip making it clear that this will be a long lasting vintage that will be worth revisiting in 10 years’ time.
Tenuta San Guido cleverly brought a couple of back vintages of Sassicaia with them to remind people of how the wine ages and the different style each vintage can create.
The 2007 not only met the high expectations associated with this excellent year it seemed to taste like a tick box of Sassicaia descriptors: classic Claret nose with leather, tobacco and dark berry fruit; the palate was bright but with great depth and concentration; the texture silky and soft but with a solid grip and an endless finish.
2007 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri DOC £165 per half bottle
The 2010 was noticeably younger with bright, fresh fruit, incredible length and a touch of vanilla coming through right at the end.
2010 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri DOC £255 per bottle
New vintage tastings remind us that our ethos of selling mature wines by the bottle is a sensible one. Whilst the new releases we tasted at the Nebbiolo and Tenuta San Guido events were interesting and showed potential, they are in their infancy and do not showcase the wines at their best. Time is necessary but, with such an array of vintages available, we needn’t have to wait.