The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2016 SAN FRAN INSIDER G eneralizing about any subject immediately invites exceptions, but one thing that can be said in general about wine is that it binds people across time, cultures and demographics in a way that few products can. When those bonds are passed down from generation to generation, their history is found embodied in the people and very often in the bottles that come to market. The ever-engaging Rupert Symington, whose son Oscar represents the fifth generation of the family, led a tasting at Perbacco of his portfolio's dry wines and Ports. He began with a discussion of the market dynamics that ensued when the company first collaborated with Bruno Prats in 1999 to produce Chryseia, a sig- nature red wine predominately sourced from Quinta [de] Roriz. "Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are the Douro's Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot," he said. "And these wines are similar to the Northern Rhône in their ability to age." Symington stressed the quality for value that is readily apparent in wines like the Prazo de Roriz 2012 ($16), which focuses on secondary varieties such as Tinta Barroca and second-use oak. Post Scriptum 2013 ($26), a vintage more Left Bank in style, and Chryseia 2013 ($75), with meaty, spicy blue fruit, are credited with recovering the extreme costs associated with the production of Port. A rare tasting of the mono-varietal vintage ports of Quinta do Bonfim and Senhora da Ribeira that comprise the Dow 2011 Late Bottled Vintage ($25) was an eye opener. Bomfim's Nacional was Ricola-like and chocolaty, while Ribeira was loaded with blue fruit. The respective Francas were plummy chocolate and floral with violets and inky blue fruit that finished quite dry. The tasting concluded with the 2011 LBV, a unified blend of ten base wines. "LBV is a small category that is often overlooked in the U.S.," said Symington. "But it's a flagship representative of the Port style." Francesco Mazzei, the 24th generation of vintners to farm the 650-hectare Castello di Fonterutoli estate in Chianti Classico was at Sociale restaurant to mark the 20th anniversary of his Siepi label. The Mazzei family inherited the estate, which is divided in to five sites—Siepi, Belvedere, Fonterutoli, Badiola and Caggio—in 1435 and, according to Mazzei, at that time Siepi was already a noted site used for massal selection. The Mazzei family is credited with introducing Merlot to Chianti, where it is blended equally with Sangiovese for the Siepi label, thereby "pushing the IGT category in the region." Bordeaux researcher Takis Stamatopoulos references Siepi, a forest clos with a marked diurnal shift, as a benchmark for its marl schist, clayey soils and powerful, structured wines. Of the six vintages Mazzei presented, only the 2005 had developed to a garnet rim with brooding dark fruit and tertiary flavors of umami, exotic spice and cigar box. Consecutive vintages through 2008 were quite youthful with muscular tannins, deep black or red cherry fruit as dictated by the vintage and iodine minerality. Mazzei attributed this subtle shift to the new winery completed in 2006. Both 2011 and 2012 were challenging vintages marked by heat and severe frost respectively. The wines showed less extraction overall and more purity of fruit. story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong Living History Mazzei's Siepi 2007 was voted "best of the tasting" by a show of hands. Francesco Mazzei, Vice President and CEO Marchesi Mazzei, owns estates in Chianti Classico, Maremma and Noto, Sicily. Rupert Symington led an inspired tasting of dry wines and component Ports that furthered our appreciation of the LBV style.

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