Back in 2004 I had to organize one of the more terrifying events of my wine career: a professional tasting at the Four Season George V hotel in Paris? I had to organize the suppliers, organize the transport but above all, and most petrifyingly, make sure that the trade turned up. They did, mostly, and so they should have as the list was long:
Castello di Ama, Castello dei Rampolla, Lamborghini, La Fiorita, Bruno Giacosa, Tenuta San Leonardo; Poggio Scalette et al.
The winning wine, if one had to name one was 2000 Il Carbonaione from Poggio Scalette. No one could believe that this single grape Sangiovese IGT from the hill above Ruffoli could be just that, just Sangiovese. Jurij Fiore’s version of Sangiovese, from the original 1911 clone of Sangiovese is a wine of lush texture and richness that belays the acidity so often linked to this Tuscan indogène.
Surely there was Merlot in there, surely it had been juiced up? But no, the hill of Ruffoli, which is also shared with bio-conscious dmaine Querciabella, has very definitely a micro-climate of its ows. The vines grow high, Scalette’s at about 485 metres, with some of Querciabella’s higher still. It benefits from strong drying winds (there is nothing between it and San Giminiano forty kilometers away. Above all they have a rare Tuscan privilege of picking late, even into the long cool nights of October, à la Bordelaise one might say.
But I digress. In a flurry of flushness I hoovered up the remaining magnums of 2000 in our warehouse and in April took one to London to drink with my family. We had previously drunk one together at Christmas in 2004, and my only other experience of Il Carbonaione in magnum was a robust and pugnacious 2005 drunk in December 2012.
So how does the wine look today? Well, it has the same dense, dark color; there is no hint of bricking or fading grace at the rim. Its texture and structure remain firm and guiding, lending the whole a sense of solidity and richness. The nose remains one of dark rather than Sangiovese’s more usual red fruits In the mouth the wine remained fresh, full and copious. Maybe it lacks a little acidity, but I am writing this from memory…
I was thinking this is quite remarkably young and voracious in its yearning for cellaring; but then, a strange thing happened, like Goya’s curious (sic) Dog,there was suddenly apparent a very noted purple nose of secondary fruit sticking out of the glass looking at me. Obviously not figuratively, but it instantly made me change my judgement on the wine…it is now at its peak, and although it apparently has a lot of life left, I am not much of a gambler, and I think I need some dinner guests…
It does make me wonder slightly, you can read worry, about Célestine’s double magnum of 1997. I had been hoping to hold out until she was 21, but I may have to give in to the more continental 18.
A voir. Lovely wine though.