Late last week I picked up the wines I’d recently won at auction and I just had to open one up on Friday night. I don’t always drink old wines, I love young vibrant wine too, but I’m going through a phase and, for me, that’s what my wine drinking is all about. Each phase I go through opens my mind to a deeper experience with wine, so for now my posts will be weighted towards an aged wine experience.
The wine I really wanted to pop open was the 1996 Carpineto Farnito, a Toscana IGT wine made wholly from Cabernet Sauvignon and known as a Super Tuscan! I scored a few bottles of this wine for $30 each and Wine-searcher shows them selling for over $100 so the bargain edge was also attracting me (recent vintages are more around the $40 mark).
The IGT part stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica and unlike the restrictive DOC and DOCG Italian wine classifications, an IGT classification, although still region specific, allows for much more freedom in grape and blending choices. And this is where the free use of the single varietal Cabernet comes into it, usually more known for being a primary grape variety of French Bordeaux than of an Italian wine from Tuscany. Cabernet is only used in about 4% of Toscana IGT wines.
Both my wife and I had just suffered long days, and our 2 boys were not joys getting to bed, so being a Friday we decided to order in take away. Considering we were having an Italian wine we had to get Pizza but the choice of pizza joints in our area is limited so we ordered Domino’s. See, we’re a classy couple with an image to protect so we had to go with a “chef’s best” BBQ pork and hollandaise pizza (a tough choice after considering the BBQ duck and blue cheese). We made the right choice.
There’s always a risk with these aged wines that they just haven’t done too well. They do always end up being very different from when they were first released, but the question is, is that difference something memorable or forgettable (or just plain sink-worthy). In this case, we were rewarded. Yes, a lot, but not all, of the fruit had dropped away. There was still a noticeable and enjoyable hint of cherries in there, but what had replaced the fruit was an interesting array of flavours from capsicum to a hint of licorice with a backdrop of vanilla leading into a medium length slightly chocolaty finish. None of this was intense, all rather subtle, and the tannins had clearly dropped away leaving a smooth and somewhat savoury wine that went rather well with our poshed-up pizza!
Update September 2013
I’ve been informed that you can pick up the 2007 vintage from Dan Murphys for 30 bucks and it’s meant to be a cracker!
Update November 2013
I just cracked open another one of these with pizza just to verify that it was as good a pizza wine as it was the first time, and to see if another one of these bottles had passed the test of time. As soon as the cork left the bottle I got a beautiful whiff of fruit… a great sign. On sipping though this one had dropped a bit more fruit than the first bottle, the cherry aspects were still strong,and t it had picked up more complex savoury flavours with a decent vanilla backdrop. Sipping this with the duck and camembert pizza was a delight… it still worked!
Update February 2014
Had another pizza night recently and just had to open the last one of these to pair with it. Considering the previous bottle had dropped more fruit than the first I thought I had better finish these bottles off. On popping the cork there wasn’t an overly strong presence of fruit, not the best sign, but as soon as I poured it there it was and it sat nice and purple in the glass. I took a sip and wow! This was the best one yet. Loads of fruit flavours from cherry to raspberry and a bit of blackberry too. It had also developed the complex savoury flavours that sat in the background and that carried the beautiful taste of the wine for quite some time between sips. This was a great way to finish of what were a few good bottles of wine that really were a match for pizza!