Thursday, September 06, 2007

Vertical Tasting Montevetrano 2003-2004-2005 – A Tris for the Cellar

Montevetrano by Silvia Imparato and Riccardo Cotarella is a highly acclaimed wine. Every year for the past 5 years Montevetrano has taken the honors of 3 Glasses from Gambero Rosso, 5 Glasses from Duemilevini (my favorite research source for Italian Wines), and points for 92-98 out of 100 from just about every magazine or agency which rates wines. Their enthusiasm for this wine may be more political than qualitative. I will not be so presumptuous to go against the “experts”.

Silvia Imparato planted their first vines in the 80s on land that had been fruit trees. Later she brought in Riccardo Cotarella who had made his name with some really great Bordeaux wines. This may be why Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate this wine. Perhaps Campania is the only place where he could get away with a left-bank and right-bank combination.

Our friends over at Winebow presented a new product offering that will shortly be available in the US. Montevetrano has bundled the 3 bottles from the vintages of 2003, 2004 and 2005 into a single product. It is still too early to taste this wine. The experts say that Montevetrano will age well through 15-20 years. Generally wines of this nature will start to express their complexity and balance between 10-15 years.

The bottles had been opened earlier in the morning and even though they had several hours to breath they were definitely too young. This does not mean that the tasting was not worth the time. The woody tannins dominated the 2003. It was an explosion that immediately encompassed the palate. Once the initial impact subsided the wine showed some signs of complexity. The youth of this wine was expressed in the fruity flavors that were too present. The 2003 continued relatively smooth, finishing with a hint of spices.

As we passed to the 2004 I expected more fruit, more tannins, and stronger flavors. Interestingly, the 2004 was earthy without the tannin hit. The fruity base was there but not as bad as I expected. The texture truly surprised. It was grainy and sandy accompanied by a chocolate flavors. My tasting companion, a true Maestro in the world of wine, expressed it perfectly, “it is as though the wine was passed through a ground chocolate filter, much like a chocolate Moka.”

We did not venture to the 2005. The wine police would have arrested us for infanticide. No matter what your feelings about the Montevetrano wines of Campania this is an excellent experiment in how the same wine over different years can express variations.

Montevetrano is expensive and it should be held in the cellar for at least 10 years but could be a great investment both in your wine expertise and on the rare wines aftermarket.


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