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Great Old Italians

February 6, 2015

Glorious steak!Bacchus convened again on 13 Jan 2015 at Buona Terra, now the preferred venue for a number of people but, like all things good, I’m beginning to find its cuisine predictable and perhaps it is best to stay away for a while. The manager Gabrielle proferred the same 2011 Miani  Fruliano from the restaurant list to start us off. Admittedly though, this is an excellent choice, fresh and zesty and unexpectedly rich and complex with a hint of tropical fruit and notes of white flowers and bitter citrus, slightly steely, that added immeasurably to its sophistication.

Well, of course, the wine theme for the evening would be Italian and when David was first to offer a 1964 Gaja Barbaresco, there was no turning back. In spite of its 50 years, the 1964, well-evolved in color, proffered sweet medicinal aromas with notes of red fruits and cooked meat amidst earthy smoky overtones, utterly seamless, even gaining in some intensity over time, staying the course throughout dinner without fading off. Superb. Drunk alongside, the 1971 Gaja Barbaresco (courtesy of LF), although younger, was alarmingly lighter in color, almost to the point of murkiness, but it redeemed itself beautifully with very lovely notes of rose petals and tangerine trailed by a hint of mint, still carrying good intensity and acidity, wonderfully balanced. Superb as well, but I felt that the 1964 came across as fresher and livelier. Still on the theme of great old Italians, we popped a 1964 Conterno Barolo from the restaurant list. 1964 Conterno being pouredThis was also alarmingly light in color but it stayed true to its Barolo roots with heavier port-like sweet medicinal aromas and pure tangerine on the palate, still decent in body and showing off great acidity, though the short finish could not be disguised, becoming better over time but the pair of Gaja still held sway.

The wine list of Buona Terra contained a relatively affordable 2011 Leterno Feudi del Piciotto Pinot Nero that has become a favourite with some regular diners. Primarily fruit forward with dominant notes of red apples and citrus, I felt this wine to be too heavy in body, typical of young Italian reds. We concluded the evening with a 1997 Sassicaia (courtesy of Kieron), normally a wine that would have blown the socks off any line-up. Finale to the white truffle seasonOn this occasion, it contained a significant touch of earthiness and vegetal characters initially that, thankfully, blew off quickly enough to reveal dark fruits and blackcurrants with a dash of ferrous minerality, medium-bodied, supple and well-balanced, though stern in demeanour and certainly not the last word in complexity. Just as in typical Italian dramas, you can’t bump off the oldies and the Sassicaia certainly could not move out of the shadows of the great pair of Gaja Barbaresco.

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