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Tricky Tuscany

Posted: Sep 18, 2007 10:25pm ET

The weather is really weird in Tuscany at the moment. This afternoon, my kitchen was flooded with water, after what looked like a monsoon blew through Il Borro. It must have rained about three or four inches in about half an hour!

I still have high hopes for the harvest. The summer was warm and sunny during the day, and cool and fresh at night. But this September has been strange. The last few days have been raining off and on, and it’s been very humid.

Many producers with Merlot have already harvested and that looks very good, even exceptional. A few in the south of Tuscany, such as Montalcino, have harvested some of their Sangiovese and that looks good as well. But they still have to wait for the majority of the crop to ripen properly and many won't be harvesting for another week or so.

I had a few producers over to my house for dinner last night: Bibi Graetz from Testamatta, Guiseppe Mazzocolin of Fattoria di Felsina, Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti of Badia a Coltibuono, and Elisabetta Geppetti of Fattoria Le Pupille. They brought some 2005s and 2004s to taste and the latter was obviously the superior vintage, as I have written in the past.

They also wanted to try some non-Tuscan wines. So I poured them a 1997 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto, 1990 Lynch-Bages and a 1970 Niepoort Vintage Port. All the wines were showing fabulously. The Giacosa was fresh and balanced with very fine tannins. It showed a wonderful intensity of ripe plum and dried fruitcake. It was just coming around. 97 points, non-blind.

The 1990 Lynch could use another year or two of bottle age. It showed aromas of tar, currant and berries with just a hint of fresh herbs that followed through to a full-bodied palate, with silky tannins and a long, long finish. 93 points, non-blind.

Meanwhile, the 1970 Niepoort was drinking beautifully. I hadn’t drunk that wine for years and it was one of the last in my cellar. But what a gorgeous Port. It showed violets and berries on the nose and palate. Balanced and round, it was fresh and fruity with a light sweetness and a long fruity finish. Just right now. 93 points, non-blind.

Of the three wines, the Niepoort was the favorite of the group. Mazzocolin took the empty bottle home for his collection. I think it was a nice break from the tricky harvest this year.

Scott Oneil
UT —  September 19, 2007 4:34pm ET
Thanks for the notes, particularly on the '97 Giacosa. These updates on how wines are drinking currently are invaluable. I've heard that '04 will be another great vintage, but I haven't heard as much about the particular character. Can you say how it seems to be shaping up?
Fred Pitts
New Jersey —  September 19, 2007 7:18pm ET
James: I guess I'm a lucky guy. My wife and I just got back last Saturday from a two week trip to Italy, including Montalcino from Tuesday to Friday of last week. The weather was fantastic, except for 5 minutes of very light showers early in the week. I was hoping that it would continue through Brunello harvest. Hope the rain this week doesn't change the prospects for the BdM vintage. Fred

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