June 3, 2013

The Italian tale of two 97s

I’m talking about 1997 that is.  Ooh yeah! It has some great memories for me and I got to relive them recently in the guise of these old timers. So 16 years is not so old really, but to a grape it certainly is, even though 1997 was a great vintage for both of these regions. And while the fruit is long gone, what is left is the essence of that great vintage and the echoes of vintages past.

Both of these wines have rather uncommon qualities when compared to the easier to understand Aussie Shiraz.  The Amarone is made from grapes that are dried for three months throughout the winter before the usual wine process even starts. Incidentally, the same blend of grape varieties, corvina, rondinella and molinara, are used in the early drinking style from the region, the fruity Valpolicellas.

The Gattinara is a fine wine made from the Nebbiolo grape, sometimes recalcitrant when away from home, coming from a region whose limelight is often overshadowed by the more popular regions – Barolo and Barbaresco.  Nebbiolo is a grape that produces greatness in its Piedmonte home territory, but is more often lacklustre and awkward when grown elsewhere. This particular Gattinara also sports a very unique bottle so it is certainly memorable.

I am pleased to report that both of these wines were drinking well but I would be hesitant to keep either of them for much longer than a few more years unless you have optimal cellaring conditions – something that I do not.


And while the fruit is long gone, what is left is the essence of that great vintage and the echoes of vintages past.

Travaglini Gattinara DOCG Tre Vigne 1997

Although the colour is solid, it is showing its age. Still fragrant with warm spices and earth and nuances of dried roses – more tertiary with little of the fruit spectrum in evidence.  The silkily fine tannins are powdery and mouthcoating and the flavours are lengthy and moreish.

I was a little sad that I do not have another bottle to look forward to as it could have had just a little longer in the horizontal position.  I gave the decanter a work out for this one to remove the sediment of its long cellaring.

Tinazzi CA’ de’ Rochhi La Bastia Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 1997

The aromas are lush of raisins, earthy chocolate and dried herbs – a just reward for all that patient waiting.  Smooth warm tannins are soft and fine filling the mouth with a wash of flavours of lavender and dark chocolate opening up to smoke on the finish. Long, generous and gorgeous.


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