It’s been far, far too long since I’ve enjoyed a wine from La Rasina. That said, the bottle I enjoyed yesterday more than made up for a prolonged absence.
Sangiovese, as you probably already know, can be many things; fresh and young, mature and graceful. And, to be clear, these are not things specific to Sangiovese, or to wines from Montalcino. But when we think about some of the world’s greatest wines that are at or just near the peak of their maturity, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir, etc., there’s an added dimension that only careful winegrowing and many years in the cellar can provide.
Let me be more specific: the aromas that accompany a fine wine in its preferred plateau (in this case, nearly 20 years since harvest), are in large part, I think, why people collect wine, why they carefully age and protect them as they would a member of their family. Sure, how it tastes is important, but it’s not the most important part, even if we think it is. It’s actually the smell, the aromas that are the larger part of our experience – in the mouth we can feel (which has become a big thing in recent years with the advent of deeply extracted wines), and we can sense sweet, sour, bitter and salt. So when we say we taste raspberries, it’s really a combination of the taste and smell that we’re experiencing, not just the taste.
So what does this have to do with the bottle of 1997 La Rasina Brunello di Montalcino I just drank? A lot, because the perfumes are the kind that create mile-markers along the journey of wine discovery and enjoyment. Breathtaking, deep, complex, penetrating and sensual aromas that transport a person from one place to another, like all good art does.
My tasting note follows below.
16 March, 2017: “Nearly at the peak of its maturity, this is a stunning, powerful and complex wine. Dark brick-red core with some tawny showing. Aromas of soil and herbs at first, but these are quickly replaced by powerful perfumes of dark spices and those lovely notes that mature Sangiovese can offer – when it’s ready. The palate is med>full-bodied, it’s measured with generous layers of red fruits that are in great harmony to the tannins and acid backbones. This is ready now with just 30-60 minutes of air – but it’s likely to improve some from here if you’ve got the patience. I have 3 left that I will consume, carefully, over the next decade. Brilliant effort. 14,0% abv.” highly recommended
Served non-blind. Cork/fill in VG condition; modest sediment.
(header photo: the La Rasina wine made me think of another example of Italian artistry and thoughtfulness – of making difficult things seem easy: in the village of Castelvecchio di Rocha Barbena, in Liguria)