Extraordinary Flaccianello

At its peak, my wine collection exceeded 4,000 bottles. For a decade, I’d been reading and researching, hunting down and buying wines from all over the world. These bottles all got sent to Portland Wine Storage, where they sat…and sat…and sat. It wasn’t affordable (import duties) or logistically feasible (dodgy transport/storage) to get these wines out to where we were living in Asia, so I just kept making ‘deposits’ without any ‘withdrawals.’

Now that we’re back in the USA, I’ve been a lot more active: selling cases of wine via Hart Davis Hart and drinking a fair amount too. I always make sure that I take a couple of bottles of the best stuff for me to try. That’s why most the ‘cases’ I sell through HDH are 9 or 10-bottle lots!

My Reward After a Hard Day’s Work

Having finished two days of moving boxes around at Portland Wine Storage, I thought it would be nice to share a famous bottle with Joe and the guys. I chose the Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pieve 2010. This wine regularly features in Wine Spectator’s Top 100, and one of the years was #1. The 2010 bottling earned 97 WE / 97 WA / 94 WS.

Here’s what WE had to say: “The 2010 Flaccianello della Pieve will take your breath away. This is a seriously beautiful Sangiovese-based wine with the kind of intensity and aromatic purity you only experience every 1,000 wines or so…The temptation to drink it now is huge, but those still young tannins definitely need a few more years to unwind. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.”

I poured it through an aerator into a decanter and did my best to accelerate what shouldn’t be accelerated. As I taste more and more of my 8 to 10-year old wines, I’m learning that 1-2 hours decanting is often the difference between disappointment and elation.

The wine tasted extraordinary: great dribbling handfuls of fruit that ranged from red to black, lush tannins, lively acidity and a long finish that tasted of licorice and tobacco. 100% Sangiovese. I don’t typically think of myself as a Sangiovese super-fan. Maybe I was just drinking the wrong stuff! Joe told me that he would only have one glass (still on the clock) but it took little coercion for him to have a second.

I’ve got two bottles left (selling the other nine.) One is going to be enjoyed this week with my wife. I love sharing the most extraordinary bottles with her. The next will disappear during my writing retreat next month (I’m 90% done with my first book!)

Hacienda Monasterio 2010 Riserva

To celebrate the resurrection of my wine fridge, I pulled a chair into the garage, set a wine glass atop a saw horse and opened this lovely bottle from the Ribera del Duero.

Enjoyed in my “man cave” while reading Real Simple.

I should have decanted it. Just look at the residue atop the label! But I couldn’t wait. I’m a big believed in “matching wine with mood” and my mood was exultant and thirsty.

The wine was a deep, deep purple. Almost black. With just a slight halo of red at the edge of the glass. The opacity surprised me for a Tempranillo.

For a wine that had slumbered for nearly a decade, the molecules escaping out of the glass smelled emphatically like blackberry pie and jasmine.

Acidity was also still lively. My only complaint – and a small grouse it is – is that my tongue and nose would have liked a bit more fruit to balance the tannins, acidity and oak.

WineKnow Facts:

  • The Ribera del Duero region is in northern Spain, a few hours’ drive due north from Madrid. Valladolid is the biggest city in the area.
  • Red wines from the RdD are made with “Tinto Fino” (the local name for Tempranillo).
  • Tempranillo wines are usually dark red, or garnet. Its usual aroma & flavor profile includes cherry, plum, tobacco, leather and cedar – rather like a Chianti.
  • I learned online that this particular wine was 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon – so that explains the color and the darker-tasting fruits.
  • This wine was also aged for 20 months in French oak – which explains the oakiness that gave me a bit of “pie crust” and cedar action.
  • Peter Sisseck was the consultant winemaker for this wine – and he has a reputation for producing big wines that critics like Robert Parker love. He’s also directly involved in Dominio de Pingus, one of the top winemakers in Spain.