by Andrew Chalk
The Tuscan region of Bolgheri is famous as the birthplace of some of the most famous wines of Italy. Surprisingly, in a country steeped in official classifications and regulations, these world-class wines are all Super Tuscans. That is a term invented not by regulators, but by wine critics seeking to distinguish these rule-breaking wines that officials originally only allowed to be classified as Vino da tavola (table wine) from the more usual, pedestrian table wine. More recently, the super Tuscan category has been integrated into the mainstream Italian quality system and the wines became designated Bolgheri DOC.
The names of the world famous wines are: Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Ca’ Marcanda and Guado al Tasso. The last of these is owned by the Antinori family which is now in its 26th generation of wine making. Dallas was the fortunate recipient of a recent visit by Allegra Antinori, one of the three daughters of patriarch Marquis Piero Antinori, all of whom who now play an instrumental role in the running of the property. She guided members of the media and trade through a tasting of Guado al Tasso at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and gave us some insight into what makes a world-class wine.
The first Guado al Tasso wine we tasted was the 2012 Vermentino from Bolgheri DOC (approx. $30). It is fresh, crisp, with a high acid level that makes it pair well with food. This wine received 92/100 points from Wine and Spirits and was declared a ‘best buy”.
Next was another light wine, the 2012 Guado al Tasso Scalabrone Rosato (approx. $23) from Bolgheri, DOC. This is an unusual blend, for a rosé, in that it is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 30% Syrah. It makes for a core of bold flavors under a perfumed nose of rose petals and herbs. This is a very versatile wine that would be as at home as a summer poolside quaffing wine as it was with The Mansion’s Ricotta Agnolotti.
Next it was on to the red wines that form the backbone for the estate’s reputation. First we tasted 2012 Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato (approx. $30) from Bolgheri DOC. This blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Syrah is obviously exceptionally young. In this youthful state it is primary fruit that leaps out of the glass and an intense inscrutable fruit ball that comes through in the mouth. Best to cellar, then start pulling out one bottle a year after five years and witness its glorious maturation.
The final two wines were vintages of the flagship Guado al Tasso. The 2010, and then the 2009. The 2010 (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) was rated 97/100 by the Wine Spectator. The 2009 (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc) was rated 98/100 by The Wine Enthusiast. These ratings makes their approx. $130 retail price a relative bargain versus the class (other super Tuscans and Bordeaux). The 2010 tastes like a young wine. It is a complex blend of herbs, raspberries, liquorice and some French oak. The 2009, although only one year older, tastes like a maturing wine. If I were compelled to drink one of them now the 2009 is the one i would choose.
Overall, a very impressive lineup. For a budget priced red wine go for the Bruciato. For world-class go for the Guado al Tasso.
A shout out as well to the person responsible for the food-wine pairings. Not just on the Mansion side, but also the side of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (who represent Antinori in the U.S and organised this event). This was one of best matched setups I have come across for some time.
These wines are in wide distribution in quality wine stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.