Beauty is in the mouth of the beholder

Tim's Wine Market
Those who attended the “wine down” in Orlando on Friday night received two treats, the first was a tasting by Allessandro Nieri, the owner of the Chianti estate Montellori. The second was a vertical tasting of Amarones produced by Bertani in celebration of their 150th anniversary of business.
The tasting with Allessandro was very nice, with a showing of his current releases as well as a couple of older offerings. His importer, Hermes Ortiz, also opened bottles of a few of his new releases expected in November. The highlight to me was sampling a 1997 Vigneto Moro, the first wine I purchased from the winery way back in either 1999 or 2000. Although showing a little orange in the rim the nose still possessed a deep sense of fruit and there was a lot of complexity on the palate. Only on the finish did the wine display the subtle cracks of time, falling a bit short. I don’t think any of us could ask more of a wine that sold for $12.

As for the Amarones, they were a study in how complex mature wines can be. Our hosts for the night, Jerry McVey and Eric Palmer, poured five vintages; 1967, 1968, 1975, 1976 and 1999. The first four wines are sold in a wood gift box, one bottle each, for around $1200. The 1999 is the current release.

I opened the wines around 4 pm and tasted through them in quick order to make sure they were in good shape. To my surprise the 1967, my birth year, was the stunner of the two oldest wines. It displayed an amazing nose of molasses, soy sauce and candied orange peel. I think at 40 years of age it is holding up as well or better than me, with a good sense of fruit on the palate and superb length. The 1968 by comparison was very compact and one dimensional. My inclination is to say that it is still closed, potentially needing another five to ten years to evolve.

The wines from the 1970’s were equally surprising. At 4:00 the 1975 showed spectacular complexity in the nose; with notes of jasmine, honey, dried plums and citron. It was surprising to me how balanced the wine showed on the palate, despite 15% alcohol, with the fruit dancing in the mouth to the finish. At the opening the 1976 was bigger and richer but less aromatically complex. It showed mostly tannin and fruit but only a small amount of complexity. When I went back to sample the wines at 7:00 pm I think it became the most stunning, having evolved a deep sense of dried red plum, coriander, anise and clove. It still displayed a surprising level of tannin but the fruit was so strong that I hardly noticed.

It was really cool to show the current Bertani release, the 1999, for a comparison. The nose showed only a small amount of fruit, mostly wrapped around notes of dried hay, honey and baking spices. In the mouth it was much more closed with firm tannins framing the fruit and keeping the finish short. Judging by the complexity of the 1967 it may last 50 years. Hopefully I will be able to report back to you on it’s development in 2049.