Two Great Super Tuscans

Last September, on a fantastic press trip to Italy, I tasted more great Italian wine in a week than I ever had before. I’m still working my way through all the notes I took; look for extended articles and columns in the coming weeks on the overall experience, as well as specific standout producers like Brancaia, Da Vinci, La Marca, and more.

Today, however, I want to focus on two fully evolved Super Tuscans that I’ve tasted recently, both of which are stunning reminders of the importance of opening even the most special bottles in your cellar, regardless of what the occasion is. After all, the tendency is for most collectors is to hold onto their best wines, waiting for the perfect moment to pop the cork...until they’ve inevitably passed their peak and crossed the line from mature to dried out and devoid of personality.

The old line applies, as it always has: Any time you open a great bottle is itself a special enough occasion.

My notes are below. The Tignanello 1995 was enjoyed this past Saturday night as part of a celebratory dinner with my parents. My wife, who teaches Pilates and sells real estate, had finalized the sale of my grandfather’s condominium after months of work. After a phenomenal bottle of Champagne Leclerc-Briant “Les Chevres Pierreuses” 1er Cru Brut NV, we tucked into the Antinori Tignanello that my father had generously pulled from his cellar. After half an hour of air, it sang as clearly and as elegantly as expected--a stunning reminder of what has always made Tignanello so special. The Luce della Vite was opened on the evening when Hurricane Sandy was blowing at its peak. We had rain coming through the bricks in our bedroom and plastic wrap lining the living room. The Luce proved to be a prefect salve just when we needed it most.

Antinori Tignanello 1995
Distinct leafy aromas hinting at mint or sage, and joined by increasingly prominent  cherry and raspberry, as well as leather and oregano. Flavors of espresso grinds, dusty cherries, belt leather, dried oregano, and hints of sage evolve, unexpectedly, to a finish kissed with semi-dried blueberries. Drink this detailed, supremely elegant wine right now; it’s a Toscana at an almost claret-like peak.

Luce della Vite 2000 (375 ml)
This shows a beautiful, fully evolved nose, with an aromatic profile heading in the direction of dried violets, leather, cherries, and espresso grounds. The florality, however, is what really stands out, and it’s just beguiling. On the palate, these translate to bright flavors of sweet cherry and mountain berry fruit, cherry tea and pipe tobacco, and a bit of sandalwood, with a finish flashing with an almost slate-like minerality. Perfect right now.