Wait, and see…2014 Benanti Etna Rosso

Every now and then I come across a wine that needs special attention. In the instant case, this was wine from Etna, Sicilia. A special land, not unlike its peninsular self, Italia.

Benanti’s 2014 Etna Rosso was, at first opening, closed up tight as a drum a few nights ago when I opened it. Moreover, the fruit had a shrillness to it that rendered it ok at best; far from pleasurable, even for an acid freak like me.

Needed every bit of three nights to offer any pleasure, but boy oh boy did it rise to the challenge

Ever the explorer/researcher (I drink wine solely as a research scientist/student. Ahem.) I poured 1,5oz in a covered glass and checked on it the next morning; hadn’t budged at all for the most part. I took two tiny tastes (the first to prime my palate), and confirmed that there was no excitement and very little pleasure to be found.

Fast forward to night number three – the open bottle having been left at room temperature of 67F for two nights – and I decided I had to go for it, not wanting to risk another night of waiting/spoiling.

Well, by night three my wait was over, and this was firmly in its zone, offering nothing but pleasure. If a glass of the first night’s wine was served next to a glass of the third night’s wine, it would be impossible to identify them as the same wine. As a guy that’s always been a student of numbers/math, probabilities, etc., I don’t use the term ‘impossible’ lightly.

Here we have a blend of  85% Nerello Mascalese and 15% Nerello Cappuccio that I recall, vaguely, tasting upon its (pre-) release at VinItaly. My vague memory (a tasting note from that event is somewhere among the other 20k+ yet to be posted tasting notes) is that the wine was a winner, and firmly in my wheelhouse – the very reason I stocked up on several upon its release.

You might be asking yourself, or worse, concluding, that this is how any/all of the bottles would be showing right now if opened under the same circumstances of age and cellar conditions. I’d posit that no, not all would show this way. By definition, all leaves little room for exception. Some bottles might be on night one what mine was on night three. Others could be the opposite. Many no doubt somewhere in between.

And while some might use the term bottle variation to describe such an outcome, I prefer to simply look at it, wine, as the living thing that it is, behaving on its terms, not the convenient, simple-to-understand-and categorize terms we consciously or sub-consciously assign to it. That said, I do realize there’s a benefit, even if short-lived and more imaginary than fact (like points, digits plucked out of thin air and made to seem real) for some. But ultimately this benefit is also a step back, it’s value as long-lived as a passing afternoon thundershower, once it’s replaced with nothing but abundant sunshine mere minutes or hours later, the reality/landscape having changed significantly.

In closing, and for those that are already familiar (and those maybe reading for the first time) with my own, steadfast belief, that as a living, changing thing, it can not, it should not, fall victim to the absurdity that assigning ‘points’, a static, lifeless (cheating) hack of an idea should, or could, be fastened to what is many times art. For it’s the best art that shows us, teaches us, and enlightens us differently when we’re fortunate enough to bear witness. Points are based on dumbing things down, and since I don’t suffer fools vey lightly, I just chuckle, and move forward. (jumps off of soapbox)

with my back turned to Etna, the land reveals its black, volcanic soils

13,%% abv., natural cork. Paid $17 on release. On night three, I’d have been smiling from ear to ear if I’d paid twice that.

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