Thursday, July 05, 2007

Luce della Vite 1999 – Frescobaldi-Mondavi

Luce della Vite is a relatively young blend. The first Luce della Vite Frescobaldi vintage was 1993. It was the first Merlot and Sangiovese mix produced in Montalcino. Interestingly Dallas was the place where I was introduced to Luce della Vite in 1998. One of my Roman partners was visiting. We had just moved to Dallas and our selection of wines was, let’s say, very limited. He wanted to prepare a Matriciana while Raffaella was seriously concentrated on Stracotto al Chianti. Both dishes have important personalities. None of the wines in house would have been appropriate. A quick trip to the local wine shop with our Roman guest and the problem could be solved.

Choosing a wine at a wine store may seem like a simple task however Texas favored French wines over Italian and the California wines would have been an unknown. We carefully inspected the Italian wines, and were leaning toward an Amarone when Fausto moved toward the end of the isle and pulled two bottles of wine from the rack. He movement was so decisive it caught my attention. At a distance I could see a golden sun on the label but did not know the wine.

“This is an excellent wine, you most likely have not had this but it is one of my favorites and we are selling out in the restaurant every time we get a shipment,” he explained.

Fausto chose a perfect wine for the dinner. Luce della Vite became one of our favorite wines both here in Dallas and while in Italy. Each year is a little different however it is always a marvelous choice to accompany red meats, wild game, stews and sauces with important flavors.

Last week Luce della Vite 1999 was the protagonist in a local wine tasting. Without a doubt the 1999 vintage is another winner, worthy of its predecessors. Unfortunately the bottle we tasted seemed a bit closed. I think it did not have sufficient time to breath before the tasting but the underlying complexity was all there. It is important to allow this wine to decant for at least one hour and two would be much better.

Luce della Vite is a blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot. The 1999 harvest was favorable for all Tuscany wines. Luce della Vite benefits from the exceptional growing climate. Decanting the wine evidences an intense color of red rubies and the blackberries permeate the air. On the palate nuances of tobacco, leather, cinnamon and cloves transition smoothly from one taste to the other. The wine feels silky in the mouth with just enough acidity and tannins to cut the flavors of savory foods.

This is a great wine to have for special occasions. Among the high-end wines its price is very reasonable. It will age very well. I would think this is one of the wines that can grace your cellar for 15+ years before peaking. Do not open this wine if you are in a hurry. It needs to breath to balance the flavors and textures. Give yourself a couple of hours to truly appreciate this wine. If you intend to order Luce della Vite at your favorite restaurant, call ahead and ask them to decant it for you.

Grape: Sangiovese 50% - Merlot 50%.

Color: Intense Ruby Red.

Bouquet: Intense perfume of Mature Dark Fruits.

Flavor: Full flavored of Plums and Blackberries, transitioning to hints of Tobacco, Leather, Cinnamon, and Cloves.

Alcohol: 14.5%.

Serving Temperature: 16-18 c.

Glass: Balloon or wide rimmed red wine glass.

Aging: 15+ years.


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