Posted by: Bill Spohn

- 05-28-2022 12:48:11

I have been a proponent of the wines of this co-op for decades – perhaps the most effective wine co-op anywhere, producing top notch wines by virtue of stringent selection of grapes from their members. The reserve single vineyard wines are long lived and very age-worthy.
We started with a palate cleanser – a 2020 De Forville Chardonnay from Piemonte, modestly priced and refreshing.

1989 Asili – my last bottle of this vintage, the wine had a Burgundian lightened colour and a very good nose of cherry and green pepper, was elegant and long on palate and developed with time after decanting. A very good wine showing tertiary development, it has held up overnight in the unsealed carafe and I am enjoying the last of the bottle as I type this, noting the persistent bright flavours that have lasted so long as well as the tarry nose with balsamic hints. If you have this, drink now, and be prepared for a treat. What Nebbiolo is all about.

1990 Asili – much darker in colour, brighter and riper with lavish fruit – dark cherry and spice (nutmeg?) and very good ruit and length. Excellent now and no rush.

1997 Montestefano – dark, with a nice ripe nose of balsamic and dark cherry with some mushroom and orange rind. Good body and acidity, and still carrying a fair bit of softening tannin. Good length.

2007 Montestefano – dark wine with a nose that included fresh red fruit and roses as well as a lingering anise hint. Godo fruit, softer than the 97 and sweeter, with good length.

2009 Montestefano – dark wine with initial anise hints and a clean red fruit underlay – a very approachable wine

2011 Montestefano – good colour, a balsamic and earth nose with added black olive as it opened, sweet fruit, firm tannin, smooth long finish. Picked up some leather hints and a bit of floral content in the nose with time. I will go out on a limb and say that this age is probably the earliest one should approach these wines for fear of missing out on the joys that further ageing will bring. But then I like old wine!

2011 Asili – quite intense fruit in this nose, with (predictably) balsamic and floral elements, and with time some raspberry. On palate, well balanced and rather intense fruit and very long finish. Developed some orange rind and rose elements as it opened.

These are ravishing wines that take a lot of thought to decide when the best time would be to open and enjoy them. I went to a fair bit of trouble to get what I have as our market only got a small allocation and what we did get was highly sought after by local Italian restaurants, to be served far too young at elevated price levels. One year a friend and I (who also attended this tasting) had to go to several government liquor stores to try and round up a 6 pack of each vineyard for future tasting pleasure.
My favourite? The 1989 followed closely by the 1990, which indicates my taste for well aged wines.

For a surpise finishing wine we had a pair, first:

1964 Fratelli Dellavalle Spanna – this nose was decidedly brown with a faint nose of some (decayed?) flowers and leather, and in the mouth it showed low fruit, high acidity and a bitterness I rather liked. That description makes it sound like a defunct wine but it wasn’t, it was an interesting one!

For a cheese wine, I took a large step across the top of Italy:

1997 Zenato Ripassa – made from Corvina, this wine from Veneto was ins decent shape with no significant tannin, but decent fruit and aromatics. Worked well with the Italian cheeses.

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