Stars fell on Toscana…

Above: The 1990 Tignanello was youthful and powerful and had a woody note on the nose that some folks like but a turn-off for me. The 1979 Sassicaia was unbelievably good and had that goudron, tarry note that you find in left-bank Bordeaux yet still tasted uniquely Tuscan — at least to me. Photos by Tracie B.

In what seems to me such an uncanny confluence of events, Tracie B and I had the wonderful opportunity to taste two truly iconic wines of Tuscany, from two (arguably) outstanding vintages, on Saturday night — 1990 Tignanello and 1979 Sassicaia. I say “uncanny” partly because there was a white elephant in the room: despite the festive nature of our get-together a casa di Alfonso, no one could ignore the news that broke in Chianti last week. Alfonso had graciously offered to open not just a few gems from his cellar, inspired in part by BrooklynGuy’s recent post on one of the wines he happened to have in his collection. But when he “stood the bottles upright” last week in anticipation, none of us imagined that Tuscan wine would once again find itself in crisis.

Above: Ace made one of his signature dishes, grilled eggplant layered with hard-boiled eggs and tomato sauce, topped with grated pecorino romano and the fired au gratin.

Eric’s exquisite post from last week added another layer of uncanniness to our fête. Tempus vincit omnia: the owner and curator of the Tignanello estate, the Antinori family and enologist Renzo Cotarella, recently told Eric that they plan to replant the legendary Fiorano estate near Rome, where its now defunct master, Prince Buoncompagni Ludovisi, purportedly once swore (as legend has it) that he had ripped out his vines so that his son-in-law, Piero Antinori, would never have the chance to bring modernity to the farm. Tempus vincit omnia.

Above: The 1994 Primitivo di Manduria by Savese was still a baby! It was such a wonderful treat to get to taste this wine with some age on it — a fantastic example of how traditionally made wine, even when made from a grape lacking tannic structure like Primitivo, can achieve ineffable nuance with age.

But like the grated pecorino romano that Ace used to finish his eggplant pie, a final layer of uncanniness was provided by the superb 1994 Primitivo di Manduria from Savese, which we paired with dried figs from Calabria. He stood the Primitivo upright after reading Franco’s wonderful post on his visit with Vittorio Pichierri at the Savese winery. Our “blend” of wines from Tuscany and Apulia seemed to unwittingly match the rumors that arrive these days via the internet from Etruria (I hope they’re untrue but I fear they are not).

Thanks again, Ace, for a truly unforgettable serata da leoni. It felt like stars fell on Toscana that night…

Sing these lyrics, substituting “Toscana” for “Alabama”…

We lived our little drama,
We kissed in a field of white,
And stars fell on Alabama,
Last night.

I can’t forget the glamour,
Your eyes held a tender light,
And stars fell on Alabama,
Last night

I never planned in my imagination,
A situation — so heavenly,
A fairy land where no one else could enter,
And in the center — just you and me.

My heart beat like a hammer,
My arms wound around you tight,
And stars fell on Alabama,
Last night.

One Response to Stars fell on Toscana…

  1. [...] 85 Tignanello was in 2005 in New York. I was blown away by how different this wine was from the 1990 we tasted in 2009 at Alfonso’s. I might be wrong about this but I ascribe the difference in style to the change in winemaker that [...]

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