Sunday, January 17, 2010


There was a fair amount of wine consumed yesterday over the course of more than eight hours.  Friends invited us over for an afternoon and evening of cooking and eating.  The theme, as sit were, was northern Italian and the entree was a long simmered Beef Barolo.

We'll hit all of the wines over the next few days but we might as well start at the top.  The beef was simmered in a 2006 Beni di Batasiolo Langhe Nebbiolo.  Naturally there were a couple of small glasses set aside for tasting.  The wine was young for drinking but the requisite road tar and roses were in full force in the nose.  There were some herbs and earth there as well.  Medium color in the glass, it took considerable swirling to get the wine to loosen up enough to be appreciated.  Full, young flavor of dried cherries and dirt and all that wonderful Nebbiolo tannin and a good amount of acid.  The finish was fruity and full flavored with a good blast of tannin at the end.

The glass was put aside and we went on to other things and allowed it to breathe for three hours while the beef braised.

We also opened and decanted the feature wine of the evening, a 1998 Luciano Sandrone Le Vigne Barolo.  Small amounts made it into a couple of glasses and the decanter was put aside to await the meal.

The wine was much paler in the glass than the first wine, having shed some sediment in the bottle over the course of its life.  From the first sniff it was obvious that this was a wonderful wine.  A quick sniff of the Barolo and then a quick sniff of the Langhe was an education in what class is all about.  The Sandrone made the Langhe seem common.

The road tar was there, but much less of it.  The wine smelled overwhelmingly of roses and cherries.  The more I swirled the more I fell in love with this wine.  A quick sip gave a taste of dry cherries and warmth from earth and spice.  The mouth feel was fantastic.  The tannins had softened somewhat, but still they were there to grip the tongue.  The wine was elegant.

It too was put aside and we went on to snacks and appetizers and other wines while the beef continued to braise. 

When the beef was ready we poured a large amount of the Sandrone into glasses.  Three hours had taken this wine from excellent to almost ethereal.  The nose had opened up to the point it was like smelling a bouquet of roses.  The wine softened a little but that incredible mouth feel was still there.  It felt like drinking  silk.  There was subdued cherry fruit, wonderful earthiness and perhaps a little thyme. I wasn't expecting that.    The wine was totally balanced and every part was near perfect.  The beef and the wine played off each other and made for quite a lengthy meal.  No way was anyone going to rush this wine. When it was gone that wonderful aroma clung to the empty glass and to the side of the decanter.

This was the second time I've tasted this wine, the first being two years ago.  I provided the Langhe and two other wines for the day but the hosts provided this wine.  It has more than several years ahead of it, though I can't imagine that it can get any better.  I have one bottle of this wine in my cellar and I feel like I should talk to it and tell it how much I loved its 'brother bottle.'

Simply an amazing wine.

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