Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Ten (10) Year Marker

Most people that know me know that I talk about a ten year marker for wines. If you would like to try a wine with some bottle age to see what all of the fuss is about, a 10 year old bottle is a nice place to start.

I usually tell a story about a Barbaresco experience I had many years ago that opened my eyes to this idea of 10 years of bottle age. In my early wine-buying days I was not able to spend much, so when I came across a slightly aged Barbaresco for under $25 I jumped at the chance to buy a couple. It was a big deal for me to buy multiples without tasting them first but it was a reputable producer in a good vintage so I went for it.

A few months went by and I got an itchy trigger finger so I opened one of the bottles, at about 7-8 years of age. Well, it was good. But I felt a little let down. Yes, it had all of the characteristic qualities of Barbaresco but it just didn't hit the mark for me. So I decided to be patient. Back then I didn't have too much experience with older wines so I was still suspect of this concept of aged wine.

Fast forward to two years after that first bottle Barbaresco experience and I got to the 10 year mark of said wine so I decided it was time to re-visit with the second bottle. And the result... same wine, same producer, same vintage, but now over the 10 year mark, and this was a fantastic wine. It was starting to sing. Aromatic. Impeccable texture. Great fruit but in a different and less vigorous way.

It really was a new experience for me and one that proved pivotal. I just couldn't fathom a 10 year period would make that much of a difference. Of course every wine is different but this moment cemented the 10 year marker for me.

Nowadays it is hard to find a worthy 10 year old wine for a reasonable price but we have one.

Enter the 2002 Calabretta Etna Rosso from Sicily. Priced at $27.99, it is fantastic wine. Try one.

Don't believe us?

***3 Stars: Eric Asimov, NY Times
"Lively, energetic and pure, with deep, rich fruit and mineral flavors, mellowed by age and underscored by a touch of funk."

93 Points: John Gilman's View from the Cellar
"Calabretta is clearly one of the superstars on the island of Sicily and this superb Etna Rosso is comprised of a blend of sixty to eighty year-old vines of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, all planted on ungrafted rootstocks. The 2002 is a stunning wine, offering up a deep, complex and still fairly youthful nose of cherries, orange peel, roasted game, coffee, fresh herb tones, a stony base of soil nuances and a nice topnote of exotic spices. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very well-balanced, with a rock solid core of fruit, modest tannins, superb focus and grip and a very long, complex and classy finish. This is a broad-shouldered and truly superb bottle of Etna Rosso. An excellent wine. 2012-2030."

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