Tuesday June 16, 2015
The skies were looking very ominous when we began this intriguing tasting. They looked deep and dark and Brunello ominous!
The tasting format was new for us and everyone seemed a bit shy to begin. No worries though, a sip of delicious Sangiovese, paired with Italian cheese, and we were soon in dinner party mode!
This was a technical tasting of Poggio Antico with a very limited table of 12 guests (most were tasting regulars) including myself.
Laurie Driscoll, the representative for Poggio Antico, was our guest speaker.
We tasted through the wines slowly, thinking about each vintage, noting the differences and similarities. It is always hard to pinpoint favorites. The Altero wines are usually more fruit forward, less traditional, and so we were surprised at their earthiness. This is due to the small French Barriques used for aging. The wood makes the wines more approachable earlier.
I had decanted one of the 2009 the day before as I wanted to explain how the wines are enhanced when decanted in advance, especially if they are young. The Riserva’s on the other hand had the lovely earth, violet and tannins which we expected to find.
We tasted the highly rated 2007 vintages, and to our surprise, most of us preferred the more subtle, less rated vintages.
We finished with a treat from San Guisto, a fantastic Vin Santo. Peasant Cheese went over and beyond pairing it with gorgonzola, honey comb and dried figs. This is the best way to finish an evening …
By the end of the tasting, as the grey clouds departed and the blue skies returned, we all left feeling enlightened.
A combination of people, love for nature, and passion for winemaking in the beautiful landscape of Tuscany. Brunello, Brunello Riserva, Altero, Madre, Lemartine and Rosso di Montalcino are the result of great care and dedication.
Altero was created in 1983 with the intention of making a more modern style of Brunello. Altero is a proprietary wine that is distinguished by being aged in 500-liter French oak tonneaux for a period of two years rather than aging for three years in the large new Slavonian oak barrels which are used for the traditional Brunello. Altero completes its aging requirement by spending two years in the bottle before release.
1. Poggio Antico Altero 2007 $108.99
95 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – close to perfection! The review: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Altero is a gorgeous, sleek wine laced with dark red cherries, kirsch, menthol, pine and spices. Sweet floral notes wrap around the silky finish. The 2007 stands out for its finessed texture and impeccable overall balance. I can’t remember a more polished, elegant vintage of Altero. Poggio Antico hit it out of the park. The 2007 spent 24 months in 500-liter French oak tonneaux. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.”
2. Poggio Antico Altero 2008 $98.99
A fine 91 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The review: “The estate’s 2008 Brunello di Montalcino Altero is a bit more fruit-forward and dense than the straight bottling. It, too, appears best suited for drinking over the near and medium term. There is excellent brightness and energy in the red fruit flavors, while floral and spice overtones add an upper register that is undeniably pleasing.” Drink now through 2020.
3. Poggio Antico Altero 2009 $104.99
91 points, according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The review: “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Altero is a silky, perfumed wine laced with dark fruit, licorice, new leather and French oak. Medium in body, this accessible Brunello offers outstanding harmony and class in a refined style. Altero spends two years in medium-sized French oak barrels prior to being bottled.” Drink now through 2019!
As per the D.O.C.G. regulations, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva must be aged for a total of five years as opposed to four required for the regular Brunello.
The Brunello Riserva Poggio Antico is only produced in exceptional vintages. In those years the grapes from the oldest and lowest altitude vineyard are processed and aged separately. The Poggio Antico Riserva spends three and a half years in wood; the first year of aging takes place in 500-liter French tonneaux while the remaining aging is in new Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is then bottle aged for one and a half years before release to complete the mandatory five years of total aging. The result is a mature, round and complex wine.
The rather limited production of Brunello Riserva usually averages 18,000 bottles. Due to its characteristics, it is a wine for which further bottle aging is encouraged.
4. Poggio Antico Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 2006 $146.99
94 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The Brunello Riserva Poggio Antico is only produced in exceptional vintages. According to the review: “The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is a big, voluptuous wine loaded with dark fruit. Black cherries, licorice, spices and new leather are some of the many notes that flow from this sensual, alluring wine. The 2006 Riserva boasts serious depth and richness all the way through to the huge finish. This is another striking wine from Poggio Antico. The Riserva spent 36 months in Slavonian oak casks. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026.”
94 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The review: “A beautifully layered, expressive wine, Poggio Antico’s 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva caresses the palate with exceptional elegance, finesse and total class. Sage, rosemary, licorice and tobacco all flesh out as this radiant Brunello shows off its considerable personality. Hints of dried rose petals add intrigue on the finish. This is without question one of the very best 2007 Riservas readers will come across. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.”