Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Aurelio Settimo: Verticale e Vini

Last year I paid a visit to Tiziana Settimo on the day after Alba Wines, and had a great time, though we wandered the vineyards in the pouring rain and I came home with quite a bit of her topsoil stuck to my shoes.

This year she organized a vertical after one of the day's tastings at Nebbiolo Prima, and I eagerly accepted her invitation. We began with something new, and worked back:

Aurelio Settimo Riserva Rocche Barolo 2004
This is a prerelease sample of the final blend, taken from the tank. In other words, a work in progress that has yet to have bottle age. The wine is pleasing almandine with black reflections and almandine with almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with some balsamic accents and spice supported by berry fruit and savory notes. It's a work in progress and still developing. On the palate it's quite elegant, with rich berry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and smooth sweet tannins that have slightly sweet balsamic accents and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish. Beautiful wine, and will be very very fine when it has some bottle age under its belt. Expect it to age well for a decade or more and to simply continue to improve.

Aurelio Settimo Riserva Rocche Barolo 1999
This was made by Aurelio -- Tiziana's first vintage was 2000 -- and was refused by the tasting commission the first time around, because -- they said -- it was at risk of aging too quickly and needed to be "protected." How, one wonders, and indeed the second time Tiziana presented it it passed easily. It's a rich deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange; it's darker than the 2004 Riserva despite being 5 years older. The bouquet is quite nice, with rich berry fruit supported by lively acidity and by some chestnut skins, also slight underbrush and the beginnings of tertiary aromas such as saddle leather and leaf tobacco. Very fresh and a great deal going on, a pleasure to sniff, and one of those wines one could get used to, and demand daily. On the palate it's beautiful, with rich berry fruit supported by deft savory acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright cherry finish with some underlying bitterness and very slight sweet accents that add depth and complexity. Beautiful wine, one to write home about. Most impressive.

Aurelio Settimo Rocche Barolo 1989
First, a little history: 1989 was the first really dry vintage they had, and also the first hot vintage. In 1990 they harvested early for the first time. 2004 was a more traditional vintage, harvesting in October, but many of the more recent vintages have been early.

And now the wine:
Not a Riserva this time; Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to yellow onionskin on the nail. One wouldn't necessarily guess it is older than the 99 from the color. The bouquet is rich, with bright balsamic acidity and savory accents mingled with green leather, dusky leaf tobacco, and some spice. Quick to write, but very pleasant to sniff and it displays great depth. On the palate it's full and rich and very smooth, with powerful red berry fruit supported by smooth sweet velvety tannins that have beautiful savory depth, and flow into a clean bright savory finish. Very nice, a wine of tremendous finesse and elegance whose age one would never, ever guess. Tremendously impressive, and a wine that will be eternal.

Aurelio Settimo Rocche Barolo 1979
This is with a specialty label showing Elena of Toledo, from a company Tiziana and her cousins set up to market all of their wines (the idea didn't work out, and they went back to their labels a year later). Pretty almandine with brownish reflections and almandine rim with onionskin nail. The bouquet is fairly intense, with elegant leaf tobacco and spice supported by pleasant savory notes and deft balsamic acidity. On the palate it's rich, but beginning to show its age, with savory leathery leafy fruit supported by savory tannins that are distinctly dry and flow into a clean bright balsamic finish with some minerality and a degree of wet earth. Quite pleasant, though it is beginning to show its age and has clearly peaked. Tiziana opened another bottle yesterday, and it is quite interesting; the greater aeration has resulted in much more pronounced tertiary aromas - it's like sniffing a palate of leaf tobacco. The palate is richer and more elegant, with smoother sweeter tannins and much less earthiness than the bottle opened today. One often hears that with older wines each bottle is a story unto itself, and here we see it. Yesterday's bottle was distinctly superior. A score would be pointless, because it's simply good, one of those rare treasures one stumbles across in a cellar or a wine shop or restaurant with a good collection of wines.

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