Sunday 2 December 2012

Tasting 1997 Tuscany - The Fourth Flight

For the background to this tasting, look here.

It was time for the last flight and expectations were high. It was 11 bottles in this flight and almost all were great expressions of mature, and in some cases, still not yet mature Sangiovese.

All bottles decanted 45 minutes before the first pour. All tasted single blind.
All the cepage percentage below is from Andrea Zanfi´s book SuperTuscans.

1997 La Corte, Castello di Querceto
A deep, tight, salivating nose with pure Sangiovese fruit and notes of red cherries, licorice, herbs, tobacco and forest floor. Very fine. After a while some notes of sweet plums emerge.
The taste is medium big, tight and with a very fine herbal note alongside notes of red currants, hard cherry candy, dark chocolate, hot gravel and autumn leaves. The finish is balanced and ends dry. In a perfect drinking stage. 100 Sangiovese.
90p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Lucente, Frescobaldi & Mondavi
A fine, elegant yet powerful nose with notes of red and black cherries, licorice, fresh herbs, expensive leather and tobacco. Very deep and fine. This is somewhat mature but has more to give. A lovely sweet, pure cherry fruit.
The taste is tight, fresh and forceful with sweet notes of red cherries, plums, pipe tobacco, fried herbs and some bonfire notes. A very long, pure finish with a lovely warmth. Great! This is for drinking now and 10+ years. 85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot.
92p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Il Solissimo, Castello di Lucignano
An intense, finely tuned, warm nose with notes of cherry jam, tobacco, autumn leaves, licorice and a fine perfumed note. A touch warmer than the previous ones. But very good.
The taste is warm, tight and almost mature with notes of hard cherry candy, coffe powder, autumn leaves, pipe tobacco and wet undergrowth. A long, warm finish. This is fully mature and can only go downhill from here, but today a nice drinking wine. 70% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.
85p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Sassoaloro, Biondi Santi
A sweet, open, mature nose with notes of rec and black cherries, burning autumn leaves, meat stock, tobacco and some frozen rasberries. Fruity, sweet, yummy.
The taste is more tight than the nose leads you to believe with fine cherry fruit and notes of licorice, dry tobacco, gravel, balsa wood and leather. A medium long, fine finish. Fully mature and a fine drinking Sangiovese. 100% Sangiovese.
88p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Etrusco, Cennatoio Intervineas
This has a fine warmth and maturity, with notes of delicious sweet cherry fruit and scents of pipe tobacco, leather, forest floor, gravel and ripe plums. Upfront and sweet. Very, very good.
The taste is tight, seedy and fine with notes of sweet lingonberries, red currants, plums, bonfire, tobacco and autumn leaves. A very fine warmth. Just mature, this is in a lovely drinking phase. 100% Sangiovese.
91p   (tasted 2012/11)

Here we took a food break with some gnocchi, bacon and fried sage. And with new energy we poured the remaining bottles.

1997 Cepparello, Isole e Olena
This has added concentration compared to the previous line up, with gorgeous notes of herbal scented cherry fruit, coffe powder, dried flowers and some smoky notes. Really fine. And still young. Lovely on the nose.
And the taste follows it up with beautiful, sweet cherry fruit and notes of licorice, smoke, a warm Tuscan gravel road and some fresh herbs. The finish is long and sumptuous. Not as stunning as the Colleczione de Marchi, but Isole e Olena really did great in this vintage. 100% Sangiovese.
94p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Percarlo, San Giusto a Rentennano
Served from magnum, thanks to S and M! And what a wine! This is what dreams, at least mine..., are made of. There is elegance, power and structure in one stunning package. Lovely notes of the sweetest red cherries, rasberries, Cohiba cigars, hot gravel, dried flowers and violets. Very complex and intense. Still on the young side of things.
The taste is dense, impressive and lip smacking good. Even though I try to spit when we taste through the wines, when this enters your mouth it is impossible to spit it out. This is a breathtaking wine and will keep for another 10+ years, that is if you have a magnum of it... 100% Sangiovese.
97p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 I Sodi di San Niccolo, Castellare di Castellina
There is no rest in this line up, another winner is in the next glass! Stunning notes of cherry pips, blueberry bushes, licorice, expensive leather and the scent of a bonfire in the distance. The depth is impressive. Still very young, it keeps evolving in the glass all night long.
The taste is tight, deep and intense with notes of sweet red cherries, lingonberries, balsa wood, pipe tobacco and a perfect autumn forest walk. The tannins are polished with the finest sandpaper. The finish goes on for over a minute. This could be kept for another 5-8 years, but is impossible to resist today. 85% Sangiovese, 15% Malvasia Nera.
95p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Fontalloro, Fèlsina
A deep, mature, round and fine nose with sweet notes of cherries marinated in balsam vinegar, dark chocolate, damp earth, tobacco and dried flowers. Really nice. This has depth and maturity. In a perfect stage.
The taste confirms that, with sweet, opulent fruit, nicely integrated tannins and a long, soft, fine finish. Fine notes of hard cherry candy, pipe tobacco, leather and autumn leaves. Perfect to just sit and sip. Very, very good. 100% Sangiovese.
91p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Tignanello, Antinori
This is the best bottle of Tignanello I have ever had, it needed those 15 years to get it together. The nose is cool, elegant and very deep with great notes of red and black cherries, rasberries, licorice, violets, tea, warm gravel and forest floor. Very, very fine. I would say that this is perfectly mature but I wouldn´t be afrais to save this for 5+ years in the cellar.
The taste is so pure, so fine and so nicely put together that you just have to surrender to its beauty. The fruit is sweet and mellow but yet intense, the tannins are perfectly melted and the finish goes on for over a minute. Great wine! 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc.
94p   (tasted 2012/11)

1997 Flaccianello, Fontodi
How about saving the best for last? We tasted single blind so it was just random that the best of the bunch came in last in the line up. And this was easy picking out - having tasted it 7-8 times, always scoring it in the 95-98p range, I instantly knew that this was the Flaccianello. And what a bottle! The nose is decadent sweet, opulent and at the same time with a razor like structure. Beautiful notes of black cherries, Cohiba cigars, licorice, a hot Tuscan gravel road, fresh herbs and dried flowers. Pretty much the same notes as in the others but here its turned to eleven... Just awesome!
The taste is like the proverbial "iron fist in a velvet glove" with stunning sweet fruit backed up with strapping tannins and refreshing acidity. It seems as the finish goes on forever. This must be tasted! I wonder when to open my lonely mag of this nectar...? :-) 100% Sangiovese.
98p   (tasted 2012/11)


  1. Sangiovese did indeed rule the world this evening...

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for these posts on the Tuscan '97s. Great reading and really interesting. Was a bit surprised to see Castello di Brolio come out on top in the other flight considering the line-up (a friend poured the '97 Castello di Fonterutoli vs. the '97 Castello di Brolio blind about a year ago - and while I fully agree on your TN on the Fonterutoli, to my palate the Brolio was pretty average as well albeit better), but that's what makes this passion so interesting. Sounds like your bottle was a real killer. Keep up the good work, all the best.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it was two really fascinating days, tasting through these wines.
      And the rumours of the 1997´s being dead are wildly exaggerated...