Selections for December 2016

You’re not seeing double . . .

2012 il FAUNO di ARCANUM – Tuscany, Italy

We shoot forward seven vintages to bring you yet another ‘Arcanum’ but one month later.  While we’ve adequately advocated for this wine which seems to satisfy perennially, why provide the newest bottling so soon?  Why subject you to another non-Sangiovese blend of 48% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot right after its delicious, mellowed-out library experience?

Here’s why:

Wine Spectator just placed this new release on its Top 100 list at the 19th position.  Sensation ensued, a buying frenzy commenced, and our savvy rep told us to speak asap for our two-case allocation or miss out. 

We replied, “Il Fauno has seen support from TWS and its customers long enough to deserve more.  Can you please grant us enough for our World Class Club?”

(Pause)  “Yes, barely, if you take it NOW!”

. . . And so you have the youthful flip-side of last month’s older il Fauno Arcanum before you.  Delicious now, it will gain complexity over the next year or so.  We all now know how it ages; I’d advise some patience. 

Wine Spectator’s review:

“93 points:   A polished, flavorful red, boasting floral, black currant, raspberry and spice flavors. Firm yet harmonious, with the fine aftertaste lingering with fruit, iron, tobacco and tea elements. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2024.”     

An relenting curmudgeon                              

2009 VIGNETI del VULTURE ‘Piano del Cerro’ – Aglianico del Vulture

Some years ago those in the know began declaring Aglianico to be Southern Italy’s up-and-coming equal to Piemonte’s Nebbiolo and Tuscany’s Sangiovese.  At its best, it was implied, this grape could answer the intrigue and complexity and cellarworthiness of great Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino.  That said, its message of rustic, gnarly fruit and formidable tannins is completely different; you cannot entirely compare apples to pears to oranges!    

Your two most famous and durable and complex examples of Aglianico?  Campagnia’s Taurasi and Basilicata’s Aglianico del Vulture.  This is the latter, from 70-80 year-old vines grown on the ancient volcano of Mount Vulture.  While some say you can’t perceive the soil from which a wine is derived, I insist that you can when you’re talking about older vines working in granite, limestone, slate, flint or volcanic product such as the dirt of Vulture.  Come on, just smell this and tell me a cinder cone isn’t in the neighborhood!

Dramatic – nearly frightening - with its grumpy tirade of scowling cherries and almost Carmenere-like hedge-trimming-ness, this wine surprises you with a generous syrup once it lands on your palate.  That is wonderfully developed Aglianico happening, tamed by time (and two long years in new French oak).  The tarry tannins persist, but now they’re comfortably wrapped in warm blankets of saucy black fruit. 

If ever there was a wine for winter fare – be it a big chunk of meat, rich mushrooms, or ripe cheeses – this is it!