My colleagues from the magazine’s New York office – Gloria Maroti Frazee and Kate Elia -- were looking a bit tired this morning in Tuscany. I noticed Kate was carrying a large plastic bottle of Panna water. It was like a new appendage for her. They were loading up their Ford Focus station wagon with all their video gear for a drive to Florence airport to catch a plane for New York City via Paris. I think you are all going to see some fun and informative videos in the future from Tuscany after they spent close to 10 days here.
But it reminded me of what I call “the last bottle of the night.” It can be a killer. It can be the head banger, the one that finishes you off for the next day. Luckily, I have learned to pace myself after years of experience. But it can sneak up on you. Do you know what I mean? Particularly sneaky can be those late night bottles of vintage Port that seem to miraculously surface on the table from my cellar. Those can be like hollow bullets to the head, if you are not careful.
Anyway, we drank a couple of 1997 Barolos at dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants in Tuscany – Canto di Maggiore. They went down perfectly with the roasted rabbit. All the wines were fresh and rich with lots of ripe fruit and soft yet silky tannins. They were certainly open now but they had plenty of structure for long term aging. They included a 1997 Pio Cesare Barolo and 1997 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Enrico VI. They were both excellent. The group preferred the latter, but the former was drinking wonderfully as well. It was in the magazine’s Top 10 in 2001.
When we got back to my house after dinner, we all – there was also tasting coordinator Jo Cooke and editorial assistant Rosanne Quagliata -- decided to have a nightcap that included a bottle of 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive and a 1995 Leoville-Las Cases. I barely remember tasting the 2000 Giacosa Barbaresco. They drank it like explorers lost in the desert and finding an oasis after a few days full of clean, fresh water. The bottle was empty in minutes. I never knew our video experts were such lovers of Nebbiolo. 94 point, non-blind. I would leave it for another four years.
The Las Cases went pretty quickly too. And it was just starting to open up. It showed dense and rich cassis, berry and mineral character and very silky tannins. I thought it needed another three or four years of bottle age to be ready. 95 points, non-blind.
Someone wanted a different “last bottle of the night” after the Las Cases. Luckily, I convinced them to all go to bed. Otherwise, we would have all been carrying Panna water bottles this morning ...