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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Il Pareto Offline...

Thousands of thanks to Leo Frokic and his well connected wife for financing a wonderful evening of debauchery in the cozy midtown establishment, Luna Piena. Congrats to Guy Des Rosiers on his Italian ringer of the night, Lamborghini's Umbrian blend of 50 Merlot/50 Sangiovese, which was an outstanding foil to the Il Pareto vertical!

Last night was an exception to the rule as I shirked my normally studious, wine-geek detail of taking meticulous notes, spitting and being as comprehensively dorky as was just too fun to not go w/ the flow. So I'll simply put together a Hedonist Gazette format synopsis of the wines using my general recollection. First off, this event was inspired by a bottle of Tenuta di Nozzole's 1999 Il Pareto that I received as a Christmas gift this past year:

Secondly- quick background on the property. A Chianti Classico region based producer, their Il Pareto vineyard was planted exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon in 1981. The vintages that put this estate's Super Tuscan cab on the map were the '88 and '90. The vineyard is roughly 10 acres, planted amidst a pine forest at roughly 900 feet of altitude on galestro rock soils. Hopefully my research on the property will compensate for my lack of substantive tasting notes!

We began w/ the 1990, which unfortunately was corked. The mustiness smothered whatever aromatics the wine had, although the palate still hinted at rich black fruits that struggled to overcome the TCA. After we moved onto the 1995, the wines exponentially improved. The aromatics were remarkably Chateauneuf-like initially, w/ garrigue, earth and exotic spice. Excellent palate presence of red currant, blackberry, rustic tannin and a high altitude acidity that carried the flavors along. The 1996 was more explosive and more polished. Drinking extremely well, the nose was loaded w/ new leather, game, graphite and epitomized a hypothetical blend of Cote Rotie and Bordeaux. Creamy in the palate, w/ roasted coffee, black currant, melted licorice and no rough edges whatsoever. The tannins melted more effortlessly than the more rustic '95 and this certainly got the table up and out of their seats. The 2001 shows the most promise in my opinion. Explosive grilled herb, dark fruit and sweet toast laden nose followed through to a jammy, fat and sweet tannin filled palate that has all the hallmarks of an outstanding ager. I personally enjoyed drinking it as is, but those that enjoy some more maturity shall hold off on imbibing for another 2-3 years. The 2003 showed the lowest acidity of the group, more primal cabernet characteristics that are more evolved than the 2001 one and will probably offer the best drinking in it's youth.

Guy's ringer (an Italian blend that was fashioned in the 21st century) had lovely aromatics of cherry pie filling, blackberry and anise. Finely grained tannins, rich plumb and sweet spice lingered nicely on the palate. I mistook it for a Nero d'Avola from Sicily. If this example is typical of Umbrian sangiovese, I'd classify it is much less acidic and more forward w/ fruit...leaning towards sweeter spice instead of rustic spice. Great selection Guy- the whole table enjoyed it.

The consensus WOTN for drinking now had to be the '96, while I believe the '01 will ultimately be a better wine. My fiance had a soft spot for the '95, and knowing her palate's craving for the southern rhone- it makes total sense. While these wines all exhibited distinctive aromatic profiles, the telltale altitude Cabernet acidity, midpalate tannin structure and finishes all had similar hallmarks of the vineyard.

Wonderful learning experience as well as a hedonistic evening. Leo will certainly get his ass kicked in the future for paying...


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