I had some Italian wine producers over for dinner last night, including the owners of Casanova di Neri, Valdicava, La Massa, and Tua Rita as well as the manager of Ornellaia. They brought samples of their best 2006s and 2007s.
It was a great tasting and underlined how fabulous 2006 and 2007 are for Tuscany. There have never been such outstanding back-to-back vintages here. The only exception was 1997 and 1998, but the greatness was primarily limited to the coastline, such as the areas of Bolgheri and Suvereto.
I only tasted a dozen samples last night. Most of the 2006s were already bottled, while the 2007s were barrel samples. So it’s hard to make anything more than broad generalizations. The 2006s seemed a little more aromatic, with finer tannins and a racier, more refined character overall, while the 2007s were rich and powerful, with a riper and rounder mouthfeel. I think, if I remember correctly, the growing season was a little hotter in 2007 and the harvest for most producers was a little earlier. So that’s why they may seem a little more concentrated with riper tannins than the 2006. But it’s early days.
I think the slightly longer and cooler growing season of 2006 benefited Sangiovese more than other varieties. For example, the barrel sample of the 2006 Valdicava Brunello was out of this world. It showed amazing aromas of crushed berries and blackberries with minerals and flowers. It was full-bodied, with super racy tannins, bright acidity and a long, long finish. It seemed to last for minutes on the palate. Great class.
The warmer and sunnier 2007s may be better for international varieties such as Merlot and Syrah. The two barrel samples that I tasted from Tua Rita in 2007 were mind-blowing. The pure Merlot Redigaffi was extremely aromatic with violets, blackberries and blueberries on the nose that followed through to a full-bodied palate with super integrated and ripe tannins. It showed loads of fruit and a wonderful freshness. Great finish too. Meanwhile, the barrel sample of Tua Rita’s 2007 Syrah left me speechless. I had never tasted a Tuscan Syrah like that. It was a dead ringer for a top Guigal “La La” Côte-Rôtie, with its intense aromas of tar, game, meat and ripe fruit. It was full-bodied, with round tannins and incredibly rich and decadent flavors. Can’t wait to try it in bottle next year.
I think that 2006 and 2007 are vintages that will be compared to each other for the rest of our lives and beyond. It could be something like 1990 and 1989 Bordeaux or 1995 and 1996, where every lover of Bordeaux prefers one to the other. But that’s the fun about wine. I recently had lunch with fellow wine critic Oz Clarke in London and he said so rightly that “wine is all about disagreeing.” And comparing back-to-back vintages is one of the best examples of this.
The worst part of last night’s dinner, however, was waking up this morning and finding a bottle of Fleury Père & Fils Rosé de Saignée Brut frozen solid in the freezer! I forgot it was there!! I was happy it didn't explode and make a mess. I carefully thawed the bottle out this morning and pulled the cork to see if anything happened to the fizz. It tasted fine to me. May be I will drink it tonight and celebrate the 2006 and 2007 vintage in Tuscany?
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — July 7, 2008 6:09pm ET
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