Luca Restaurant had been on my radar for a bit. So, when an email came around saying “do you fancy a Monfortino BYO at Luca?” I was not slow to reply. I am in the privileged position of having done quite a few of these over the years and most are covered here in the Monfortino Blogs. This one majored on some older vintages and these are always going to vary as they will have had different lives. We worked through a whole series of dishes with these the wines. I was very impressed with the food and will be back.
One note – apologies to those who know this – but when it comes to Monfortino there are two essentially two phases to this wine. It has also always been called a Riserva. For some great in-depth intel on this and other Giacomo Conterno wines then the place to go is Ken Vastola’s site Fine Wine Geek. The two phases: These are “pre” and “post” 1978. The Cascina Francia vineyard was bought in 1974 and then from 1978 all the Monfortino Riservas have come from the fruit of this site. Differing proportions of that Nebbiolo fruit have made the cut but it has always been from this site. There may, in the 2015 Monfortino (if released), be a little bit of Arione fruit (Arione is the site that continues on from the southern border of Cascina Francia and which Roberto bought in 2015) but we will see.
So following a bottle of Salon 1997 which was fine and focused and strutting its stuff rather well we got going.
Monfortino 1967 – A lovely pungent nose and some sweet herbs, nicely done, in fine condition too with a delicious and persistent finish. Everything the 1967 should be. On the young side even.
Monfortino 1964 – Not in the best of “nick” and hence Eric very kindly opened his “spare”, the Amici bottling of which more later (the last wine).
Monfortino 1961 – Rich and open on the nose. Hazelnuts and earthy, leathery sweetness, quite savoury but also tender and evolving nicely. Good body, lovely. Resolved.
Monfortino 1958 – Herbal spice and a tiny bit of a “swimming pool” (not a bad thing). Cracking palate, quite bold, manages to be mellow and full at the same time. Nice.
Monfortino 1949 – Sadly not in one piece. Maderised – lactic and acidic, whiffs of nuts but not correct.
Monfortino 1947 – Quite volatile, an almost spritzy note here, caramel and tea and an Islay whisky note. Not what it should be but…
Monfortino 2008 – Super, I love this (it was my bottle so I am biased) and of the younger vintages I think it shows the most now, 2010/06/05/04 all being far tighter now. In 2008 Roberto always comments that the cool temperatures (almost zero) for a few days in mid-September in some way focused the wine. It has a little sweetness and a tender focus.
Monfortino 2002 – The 2002 was a first at the time in being a vintage when only Monfortino was produced from the Nebbiolo of the Cascina Francia vineyard. This will be the case again in 2013 and 2014. The 2002 has always fascinated me. I find it a different style to the other Monfortinos. There is a more stalky character, almost a nod to the Northern Rhone about it. It had an intensity of fruit without a weight of alcohol. I like it a great deal and will follow it’s ageing with considerable fascination. (That’s a hint people!)
Barolo 1964 “Amici” – As mentioned this was a special wine and Ken Vastola says a bit HERE. I had only seen the bottling at the winery before. Eric had it opened early and it needed it. A big bold and masculine wine with a great richness and no lack of poise. This was a real treat to have tried. You sense a lot of matter here and a rugged richness. It would have loved more and more air. A treat.
What these dinners always make me think of is the people and the place behind them. Yes, all wine is about a place and a time and often a person. Why this is different is that when these wine were made the idea of the wines being drunk in London by 7 wine lovers who had gathered 50 years later to enjoy and speak about them would have been unthinkable. The wines then never really made it out of the region and they aged because they “needed” too. Times change…
Thank you everyone for their bottles, enthusiasm and time and to Cemil for organising and adding the Salon! Until next time.
Some food pics: