1997 Italian Reds 12-12-13By
1997 was a VERY highly lauded vintage in Italy, which many people believe one of the best vintages ever. On this night we tried 3 standouts (16 years old), side by side. They are just now opening up again. Just another opportunity to learn.
1997 Terreno Chianti Classico Riserva
a very elegant, classy, highly refined 90% Sangiovese Riserva by superstar consultant Franco Bernabei. “The estate consits of 150 hectares of oak, chestnut trees, vineyards (30 hectares) & olive groves on an amazing terrain. The soil is of the galestro type with large amounts of stone at roughly 1000 feet elevation“. the 1997 had 10% of “other” red grape varieties (Cabernet, Merlot & Canaiolo Nero). Yes, this wine has really opened up again–classy, stylish with forest floor, cedar, stony nuances. This is a very pretty Chianti, which is NOT overdone or internationalized.
1997 Michele Satta “Piastraia”
Michele Satta owns roughly 30 hectares out on the Tuscan Coast in Bolgheri. His plantings began in 1991 & shortly thereafter, his wines became quite the rage. I remember going out to Italy & seeing his wines at all of the top wine stores throughout Italy. Furthermore, the store people would pull his wine & recommend them when I asked what should I buy. At first I latched on to his “Cavaliere” bottling, which was dominately Sangiovese. After some time, however, I found that his Piastraia (a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot & Syrah) bottling was the more interesting wine…..especially with some bottle age. I have heard from several palates I respect, the 1997 is his finest red wine to date. On this night, it had a very rustic, deep, provocative nose with lots of fruit & structure in the core. The oak was well integrated, but the wine is still amazingly youthful. very impressive!
1997 Moccagatta Barbaresco “Bric Balin”
Some years back, my wife Cheryle & I visited the Minuto brothers of Moccagatta in Piemonte. Cheryle still tells the story that eventhough Serge spoke no English & I spoke no Italian, we had quite the afternoon chat, vineyard tour & tasting. Moccagatta has 3 standout Barbaresco Crus….the most fascinating one for me typically is the “Bric Balin” (4.7 hectares on a calcareous marl hillside) located just below their home. The 1997 spent 18 months in French barrique (of which 40% was new). I don’t think of the Moccagatta Barbaresco’s as being typically Grand Cru (if there was such a thing). They are, however, still pretty, classy & quite aristocratic with charm & unpretention. The 1997 has really opened up again & the tannins, acids & oak have really integrated into the wine. I would be most thankful to have this for dinner one night was our braised lamb shank.