Sunday, March 4, 2018

Guidalberto Super Tuscan

Guidalberto Super Tuscan for Italian Village Chicago Team Wine Dinner

For our Sales Kick Off meeting we brought in the global sales team and held a team dinner at legendary Italian Village in Chicago. Working with the IV team we arranged for a private dining room and worked with Wine Director Jared Gelband  to stage the wine course so we could do pre-dinner tasting upon arrival, two reds and a white.

Knowing several of us would likely choose the beef tenderloin special we arranged for some Bordeaux varietal wines that ideally complement the hearty beef with mushroom and marsala wine reduction sauce.

The wine flight:

Parry Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana IGT 2006
2003 Sottimano Barbaresco Currá Nebbiolo
2015 Monchiero Carbone Roero Arneis Cecu Arneis

I wrote about the Parry Cellars Napa Cabernet in a separate blogpost feature.

Following the Parry we tasted this Super Tuscan from the legendary Sassicaia line which is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.

Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana IGT 2006

Guidalberto is a second wine from the producers of the legendary Sassicaia. The grapes are harvested and processed in a separate independent cellar facility. The wine is aged in French and American oak barrels and refined in bottle before release.

This was a full-bodied wine with intense red fruit flavor and and elegantly supple texture supported by ripe, silky tannins. The Merlot in the blend is expressed in sweet black fruit with overall aromas of ripe, concentrated berries offset by restrained spicy oak notes. 

The wine is named for Guidalberto della Gherardesca, the great great great grandfather of Nicolò Incisa (pictured below), director of Tenuta San Guido for forty years, son of Mario Incisa, creator of Sassicaia.

Guidalberto lived in the early nineteenth century in Bolgheri. He was a pioneer of modern agriculture, and was famous for having planted the cypress alley that inspired the poet Giosuè Carducci.

The wine was created in 2000 in an experimental use of the Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon and a large percentage of Merlot, that had not previously been used much in the area. The objective was also to make a wine that would provide early gratification from being approachable not long after release, at a younger age compared to the flagship Sassicaia.

The fruit for Guidalberto is grown on the Tenuta San Guido estate which consists of 4,500 acres, on 80 acres of vines spread across 8 separate parcels. The two main vineyards are Castiglioncello and Sassicaia, planted between 1965 and 1985, and a 20-acre parcel Aia Nuova. A more recent vineyard, Quercione, was planted from cuttings from the Sassicaia parcel in 1989 and 1990. It is sited on a stony ridge high above the winery.

The blend is reported to be 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese.
This was dark garnet colored with medium full body and ripe black berry and black cherry fruits accented by smoke, tar and anise with smooth soft tannins on the finish.

RM 90 points.

This was awarded 92 Points by Wine Spectator James Suckling and 94 Points by Wine Advocate Antonio Galloni.

Marston Petit Sirah 1984

Pour Boy Reunion and a classic 1984 Marston Petit Sirah

Bill & Beth C returned from their transplant home down on Seabrook Island SC to attend our annual OTBN Pour Boys wine group wine tasting and dinner. They came by for a pre-dinner tasting the next day before heading to their son Drew's to see the new grand-baby. To commemorate the events, I pulled from the cellar this vintage bottle from Drew's birth year.

Marston Vineyard Spring Mountain District Petit Syrah 1984

My notes from an earlier review of this wine back in 2004 on this label's vintage twentieth anniversary.  

"Dec 31 - Marston (Family) Vineyard Napa Valley Petit Syrah 1984 (Bottle 790 of 812) - RM 90 - Today, 'Family' is part of the name and the winery provides cabernet fruit for Beringer Private Reserve. Not many 20 year olds down in the cellar (since the 84 Bordeaux's are long gone being a short lived vintage) but pulled this one out on the last day of 04... Surprising body, structure and backbone with inky purple colour. Intense currant, black cherry, cedar anise and plum with a firm tight long full finish. Amazing staying power and life left - thankfully I have at least one more ... 2014?

From the Marston (Family) Vineyard website - Over the last 25 years, the Marston Vineyard has produced numerous award winning wines.Andre Tchelistcheff helped craft small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel in the early 1980’s. Sean Thackery produced legindary Petite Sirahs from the Marston Vineyard in the early 1990’s winning Best Red Wine in the world. For the last decade Beringer has been responsible for the vineyard. Cabernet Sauvignon from Marston Vineyard is in the Beringer Private reserve Cabernet. Marston Vineyard designated Cabernet is also made by Beringer. The year 1998 marked the beginning of a new era for Marston Family Vineyard. The first Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was made by noted winemaker Philippe Melka."

Well, we missed pulling this wine in its thirtieth anniversary year, 2014, but here we are four years later. At thirty-four this is still holding its own showing surprising vibrancy and resilience and no signs of diminution from age. And my earlier notes indicating we still held a bottle missed the fact we were holding two. Hence, after drinking this one, we still hold one more. As shown on the rear label of this wine, released from library in 1998, it was built for long term cellaring. It is standing up to that objective indeed!

According to the Marston Family website today regarding their wines, each vintage will remain “forever limited” to 600 cases and is produced from selected blocks on the property. According to the handwritten serial numbers on these bottles, exactly 812 bottles were produced of this wine.

Marston Family Vineyards dates back to Michael and Alexandra Marston purchasing the property back in 1969 as part of a consortium. then acquiring the remaining ownership in 1976. Back in 1969, many of the original vineyards dating back to the turn of the century were still in production.

Our last remaining bottle
Over the next four decades, Marston Family Vineyard had a line of legendary winemakers who produced numerous award winning wines. In the early 1980’s, Philip Togni and the late Andre Tchelistcheff crafted small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Rhone (this Petite Sirah) and Zinfandel.

This vintage was among the vintages from 1982 – 1986 that were overseen by legendary André Tchelistcheff, who was considered America’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker, and was notable for his contributions toward defining the style of California’s best wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. Called the “Dean of American winemakers”, industry giants such as Robert Mondavi and Louis Martini considered him their mentor.

Noted winemaker Sean Thackery produced legendary Petite Sirahs from the Marston Vineyard under his Sirius label through the early 1990’s including winning “Best Red Wine in the World” with the 1992 (some records say 93) vintage.

Noted winemaker Philippe Melka and his team managed the property and winemaking for a dozen vintages up until 2010. During this time they began replanting certain blocks of the vineyard, and in 1998 released the first vintage under the current label.

The release of the 2010 vintage marked the first release of current winemaker, Marbue Marke who continues to this day.

Marston Family Vineyards sit on the most southern slopes of Spring Mountain on the western slopes of Napa Valley above the town of St Helena. The original vineyards date back to the late 1800s and over the years were planted with as many as eleven different varietals, including Johannesburg Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This 1984 vintage of the Marston Petite Sirah was sourced from a small 3-acre plot on the property where some of those first plantings were done back as early as 1890.

The bottle from our
2004 tasting
Previous owner Al Menasco became a pioneer in developing new vineyard practices. He experimented with different types of vineyard spacing and planted a dozen varieties of grapes in different soil types and micro climates on the property. He kept meticulous records to discover the optimum growing conditions for these varietals.

Over the years, the family whittled the vineyard’s focus from eleven varietals to one, and the Pettit Sirah vines, like the others were replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon which is the sole focus of property today.

Today the vineyards comprise about 10 percent of the 500 acres of heavily forested land on terraced hillsides that range in elevation from 700 to 1,100 feet just above the fogline resulting in extended hours of sunlight. The additional sunshine coupled with the lower temperatures allow the fruit to ripen more slowly and uniformly, which ultimately enhances the wine’s concentration, complexity and texture. Furthermore, the rocky, mountain soils limit the vigor of the vines contributing to their fruit's richness and concentration.

We have one remaining bottle of this 1984 vintage release. Based on its storied history and amazing stamina and longevity, we'll look forward to a suitable and appropriate occasion to open it - clearly an OTBN candidate in the next few years!