The shrimp were followed by Risotto Alla Crema Di Funghi. The dish is made with Piemonte Vialone Nano Rice which produces the most creamy textured risottos of any grain. A Béchamel Di Crimini, Parmigiano Reggiano, Black Truffle Carpaccio added an ethereal flavor to the dish. Like a fine wine, each bite seemed to evolve to a new level.
For our main course we were served a Stuffed Roast Porchetta with mushroom gravy. All plates were cleaned down to the last morsel.
What does Super Tuscan wine refer? The designation emerged in 1970 for a wine made outside the formal Italian DOC or DOCG regulations. Traditionally, the term has most often been used to describe wines made partly or wholly from international French grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc. Many of the wines, Sassicaia, Tiganello, Solaia and Ornellaia became “cult” wines, and as such command high price tags. In the reformation of the Italian classification system many of the original Super Tuscans now qualify as DOC or DOCG wines (such as the new Bolgheri label) but some producers still prefer the declassified rankings or to use the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification of Toscana. While each of the wines we had tonight was its own unique blend of grapes, to my palate they were for the most part one-dimensional. I attribute this to the more modern wine making techniques and the high amount of new oak (Barrique) used in making the wines. I, for one, can not justify the high tariff one has to spend to acquire them.
2007 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Ornellaia DOC. This wine is a blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petit Verdot. Fermentation took place primarily in oak barriques, 70% new and 30% once-used. After fermentation the wine then remained in barriques for about 18 months. After the first 12 months of maturation, the wine was assembled and then returned to the barriques for an additional six months. After bottling, the wine aged a further twelve months prior to release. While the oak was present it was not as overpowering as I would have expected. The one-dimensional palate was soft and velvety yet lacked complexity. $230. Wine-Searcher.
1997 Antinori Solaia IGT. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese blend (the current blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc). The wine is aged in barriques, mostly new I believe, for about 12 months and for a further 12 months in the bottles. The oak was very well integrated here and unlike the others displayed a bit of complexity and depth. While it was my favorite of the evening, I'd be hard pressed to justify the very high price tag. $350. Wine-Searcher.
1971 Antinori Tignanello IGT. This was the debut Super Tuscan wine and was a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. It was the first modern wine of Chianti to contain a nontraditional grape—Cabernet Sauvignon—while omitting white grapes, and the first wine to be aged in small new Barrique barrels. Like the Solaia the wine is aged in barriques for about 12 months and for a further 12 months in the bottles. I thought the wine had a nice bouquet for a 45 year old wine. The palate was similar to the Ornellaia. This vintage is no longer available, while current vintages will run you about $100.
1989 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia VDT. A blend of 85 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 % Cabernet Franc. Sassicaia is a cuvée of the best Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes from the vineyards of Castiglioncello, Doccino, Quercione, San Martino, Mandrioli, Sassicaia, and Aianova, all of which are situated on hilly slopes in a sub- zone of Bolgheri. The wine sees 20 months in 40% new Barrique. This lacked fruit, complexity and depth. Far behind the others in my opinion. $299. Wine-Searcher.
1995 Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco. While not a Super Tuscan wine, the modern wine making style of Gaja fits in with the Super Tuscan style. Angelo Gaja is a major player in the high priced Italian "cult" wine scene. Italian wine laws governing Barbaresco mandate that the wine must be made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes to include "Barbaresco" on the label. Since Gaja blends 5% to 10% Barbera grapes into the wine he must forgo the "Barbaresco" name. I found tonight's wine to be quite drinkable, and placed it just below the Solaia. The wine was well balanced with nice complexity and well integrated oak. $318. Wine-Searcher.
1990 Quintarelli Amabile del Cere. Emil brought along a half bottle of this remarkable dessert wine so that we could toast group member Jim on his birthday. What can I say other than, awesome. A magical blend of Trebbiano, Garganega, Saoarin, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that have been attacked by noble rot, it produces a sumptuous, rich and profound dessert wine. $230 (375ml); $473 (750ml). Wine-Searcher.
A great job by Emil and Sette made for yet another wonderful evening.