Thursday, February 22, 2007

1998 Poggio Antico Altero - Brunello di Montalcino (Italy-Tuscany)

What I look for in a birthday wine is a memory. Not the memory of a wine per se, what it tasted like the last time I had it, or anything like that. I look for an emotive memory, something that makes me thinks back to a time when things really felt good.

That’s where the 1998 Poggio Antico Altero fits in. We opened this up on my 37th birthday but the memory comes from Tahirih’s and my honeymoon in October 2004. We were in Tuscany. Specifically in Sinalunga at a resort, Amorosa, just outside of Siena. We tried the wine at the resort’s restaurant on the recommendation of the sommelier after discussing what we liked and didn’t like in Italian wines and mentioning that we’d like to try something from the region. This is what was recommended. The bottle was opened for us and she left us to our first sips, only to rush back and say in her broken English… “If you can, leave this wine for seven minutes.” I think what she meant was “several” but her point was made. Needless to say, we loved the wine, enhanced all the more by the “magic of Tuscany, looking into my new bride’s eyes, and by the fabulous steak in front of us! The next day we actually made the trip into Montalcino and found the Poggio Antico vineyard, buying this bottle and a couple others for transport back home.

Fast forward two and a half years later. My birthday and the biggest question, other than how does it feel to officially be in my “late thirties” is how will the wine live up to its incredible first impression when taken out of the Tuscan countryside and transported to a Brooklyn dining room. Is it even fair to ask any wine to live up to that?

Well, the answer is that good wines can and do live up to the challenge when expectations are set high by a previous experience. This was one of those wines.

The wine…. Dark, deep red in color. Almost black. First impressions are chewy and smoky. Its important to note here that Poggio Antico has two basic bottlings of their Brunellos and Riservas. One is just labeled as Poggio Antico. The other, Altero, is aged more in oak, approximately a year extra. I’ve had both and this chewy and smoke characteristic is enhanced by the extra wood the wine sees. It’s earthy with lots of fruit as well. Namely blackberry and black cherry. But there’s also notes of violets and chocolate with maybe just a hint of black licorice. There’s a lot going on here. The word makes itself know again with cedar. Long finish that leaves a lasting impression.

This wine deserves an A in my book for delivering a fine wine experience and more importantly, for bringing back the memories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am about to open my only bottle ... looking forward to it! I'll try to write a review afterward... pace e bene.