Dario Princic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia 2006 (in magnum)
Due to a very long maceration on the skins, the colour is blush - almost rosé, as you can see from the picture. A closer look reveals transluscent tawny and amber nuances - certainly a "complex" colour and beautiful to look at! A quick swirl shows some impressive tears and suggests a sweet wine, as does the nose, which offers a heady mix of peach, apricot, mandarin, ginger nuts and rose water - like a supercharged Alsace Pinot Gris with bells on. The palate comes as a bit of a shock. What you get is a very rich, yet bone dry wine, with lots of extraction, lots of complexity, some warming but not hot alcohol and a dry, almost dusty - even tannic - finish. I brought a little home with me and, drinking it tonight, a not unattractive cheesy quality has appeared, but the fruit is still evident. The others loved it, though I have to say I'm really not sure I like it that much myself. But it is certainly interesting, bordering on weird. Vive la difference!
Querciabella Batar 1996 Bianco di Toscana IGT
Deep yellow/gold colour. What a nose! Gunpowder, struck match, flint, garlic mushrooms and a hint of lime oil and mandarin. This is like a really (really) good 1er or Grand Cru Burgundy, with a warm climate slant. Rich, glycerous and gorgeous - no discernable "fruit", just full-on, rich, minerally Meursault/Montrachet flavours. Into its stride at 13 years old, but possibly with even more development left in it. Wonderful, complex and very long.
Frescobaldi Castelgiacondo Lamaione Merlot 1995 Toscana IGT
Showing some sign of age, but still quite a deep ruby/blood colour. Volatile acidity and Kiwi boot polish dominate the nose, with just a hint of cherry fruit, cigar ash and green pepper in the background. And it is pretty much bereft of fruit on the palate, too. Dry, austere and past it.
Inama Bradisismo Cabernet del Veneto 1999
Deep, bloody, slightly bricking at the edge. Meaty, savoury, warm, almost alcoholic nose and crying out "like me!" And indeed we did like it. To say this is almost 10 years old, it is super fresh and seemingly young, though not overly tannic. Very fruity, very complex and very alluring, with sweet fruits, a touch of red pepper and spice, slightly warming alcohol and lovely acidity. Long, too. A real cracker of a sexy wine, with easily 10 years left in the tank.
Barone Ricasoli Casalferro 1997 IGT Toscana
I brought this one and was most pleased with how it showed. Black cherry, tobacco, green pepper, herbs, talc and some nice Northern Rhone-like lily aromas. This was really elegant and complex. Full of fruit, but with some lovely spice, herb and tobacco flavours. Lovely, elegant, balanced and very Italian. Following the Inama 1999, this was like a nice big cigar after a jam roly poly - both lovely wines, but very different.
Fontalloro 1993 Vino di Tavola di Toscana
Another of my wines, though for some reason, I didn't manage to write a note on it. I just remember that it was good, but not great, and probably needs drinking soon.
Castellare di Castellina I Sodi di S Niccolo 1986 Toscana IGT
The first in a flight of 3 vintages of this wine, which is (I believe) predominantly Sangiovese, so the quintessential "SuperTuscan". Heady aromas and flavours of red cherry, herbs, spices and redcurrants, along with all sorts of secondary notes, including tobacco and undergrowth - a complete wine, and very "winey". Not big, not brash, but light, elegant and perfectly mature. Lovely wine.
Castellare di Castellina I Sodi di S Niccolo 1990 Toscana IGT
Much headier than the 1986, with more in the way of balsamic and VA aromas, but also some leafy undergrowth and floral and mushroomy notes. Fantabulous acidity, full of cherry and rich, curranty flavours and a touch of old oak. Another lovely wine, though markedly different to the 1986 - or perhaps with more time left to develop(?)
Castellare di Castellina I Sodi di S Niccolo 1998 Toscana IGT
Seems a touch volatile and hot and unbalanced at the moment - almost a touch clumsy, in comaparison to the 1986 and 1990. Or perhaps it just needs much more time. It does open out a little with some air, though, showing hints of elegance perhaps to come. I'm not sure it will ever hit the heights of the other two wines, but you never know. One to keep for 5-10 years, I think.
Castellare di Castellina S Niccolo 1998 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico
I'm not sure how this is made (perhaps somebody will come along and fill-in the gaps for me) but it is a rather lovely dessert wine. Sort of "Rivesaltes meets Tokaji", so right up my street. Rich and glycerous, laden with caramel, toffee, eau de vie and orangey marmalade aromas and flavours. More than ample acidity makes for a rich, yet refreshing dessert wine, and a lovely way to finish the night.
Andy looks on admiringly at David's tasting technique, whilst Diane contemplates the weird and whacky Dario Princic Pinot Grigio
Incidentally, the food was really good - a nice assortment of fresh breads, olives and an olive oil and balsamic dip as an appetiser, followed by various starters and mains, all with really fresh, flavoursome ingredients - buffalo mozzarella, juicy, herby tomatoes and salads, and some fabulous pizza. And I have to say the service was brilliant, with friendly (and very pretty!) waitresses offering just the right mix of attentiveness and space for a bunch of winos like us. I would recommend it to anyone in the Nottingham area wanting to try something a little different and off the beaten track.
Thanks also to Andy Leslie for organising - and for bringing all those fabulous Castellare di Castellina wines!