It has been called Vino di Medatazione, or Wine of Meditation, for good reason. It’s borne of a single vineyard, a “golden knoll” that yields fruit so wonderful and precise, that it’s transformed only into Riserva and only in the most pristine of vintages. That transformation has been made only 10 times since 1985. Today, we chronicle one of them.
Sitting in southwest Montalcino, the Poggio All’Oro vineyard benefits from the confluence of the perfect microclimate: Sun, soil and exposure. A sloping hillside vineyard, 250-300 meters above sea level, Poggio All’Oro is planted entirely to Sangiovese Grosso for Castello Banfi’s Brunello Riserva.
1997 was an excellent vintage in Tuscany with a long, warm ideal growing season and near perfect conditions at harvest. With a recent quiet meal, we opened the 1997 Poggio All’Oro. I decanted the wine for a full two hours prior to dinner. My past experience with this wine, and Castello Banfi’s 1997s in general tells me that they need some time to open up. I wasn’t wrong. Upon pouring an initial taste, the wine seemed angular and thin. I set down the decanter and went about cooking dinner.
|~ Pork Roast Milanese topped with mushrooms, arugula and yellow tomatoes ~
In the decanter, the wine is deep, blackish red. In the glass, the wine fades to deep ruby at the rim. This bottle has been impeccably stored since release and the deep color is still youthful looking at 17 years of age.
By dinner, the wine had blossomed wonderfully. Aromas lift lively from the bowl and are dominated by crushed wild berry, sweet pipe tobacco, porcini, fennel and cured meats. The orchestra plays harmonically.
On the palate, the wine is elegant and long. This is not a tannic bruiser. Flavors of ripe berries, spices, tobacco and cured meats are notable and concentrated. The silky texture of the tannins – seemingly coated in bright fruit – provides added complexity from fore to aft as the feminine finish trails away. Balanced acidity keeps the flavors fresh and brightens the wine against the meatiness of the pork and mushrooms. It nears perfection.
There was a rue smile from my wife across the table. Without my saying a word, she knew there was greatness in the glass. 97 points, about $90 upon release. Current vintages sell for $100-$125.
Poggio All’Oro is aged 5 years according to DOCG law. It is fermented in hybrid oak and stainless steel fermentors and then aged 24-30 months in barrique, 12 months in cask, and 12-18 months in bottle prior to release.
|~ The exceptional Brunello Riserva from Castello Banfi: The single vineyard Poggio All’Oro ~