Ten years is a long time. It’s almost as long as my second marriage! So I had to throw a going-away dinner for my colleague Jo Cooke, who is leaving the magazine to open his own English school in Grosseto, a coastal town in Tuscany.
Jo traveled with me to just about every wine-producing region in Italy as well as France over the last decade organizing my tastings, so he is going to be missed. He is a great organizer and a loyal friend and co-worker. He’s a damned good taster too!
So I pulled out a number of bottles last night for a family barbecue including two 100-pointers under his reign: 2001 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva and 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva. Both were still perfect wines, although we all agreed that the Giacosa had the edge last night. It was so balanced and complex while the Valdicava needed another five or six years of bottle age.
I also pulled out my last bottle of 1985 Vieux-Château-Certan Pomerol. That wine had gone around Europe with me, beginning when I lived in Paris then to London (three houses) and finally Italy. It was sad to see it go last night, but it seemed to be the best bottle ever from that long-lasting wooden case. It showed aromas of hot sand with black olives and green olives and blackberries with blueberry jam. Jo’s wife, Di, described the nose as seaside clay, salty clay. It was full to medium body, with soft and velvety tannins and a long rich finish. Tar, blackberry and dried dark fruits as well. 94 points, non-blind.
As we drank the VCC, I asked Jo for his top 10 wines he tasted over 10 years working for the Wine Spectator. Here are his choices:
1998 Château Le Pin Pomerol
1997 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli
1998 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra
2000 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc
1999 Eredi Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
1997 Fattoria Le Pupille Maremma Toscana Saffredi
2000 Château Latour Pauillac
2005 Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien
2001 Château Hosanna Pomerol
1985 Vieux-Château-Certan Pomerol
I am always going to remember that bottle of 1985 VCC for as long as I live. It was my last one, but sharing it with a great friend and colleague made it even more memorable, and that’s what great bottles of wine are all about.