Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tuscan Dinner Duo

~ A Little Testamatta Anyone? ~

Throughout the Brunello zone, there are tiny vineyards with unique exposure, but few are smaller than Vigna Schiena d'Asino on the Mastrojanni Estate.  At only 1 hectare, a paltry 2 1/2 acres, this vineyard is tucked away neatly amid sloping ridges and produces one of the finest Brunello I've tasted. 
With Bistecca alla Fiorentina, we put the 2006 Mastrojanni Brunello Vigna Schiena d'Asino to the test.  It took names and prisoners.  A deep garnet red in color, we decanted it for almost an hour.  The wine is already throwing a chunky coffee grind like sediment,  so I'd definitely recommend decanting.  The aromas are full and expansive with flowers, mushrooms, sweet pipe tobacco and crushed berries.  It's gorgeous to smell.  On the palate the wine is still very youthful and presents full bodied, ripe, juicy flavors of red fruits, anise, tobacco and dusty earth.  It's powerful and elegant and retains freshness with wonderful acid and tannic structure. It's hard to imagine a better pairing with Fiorentina.  A "wow" wine for sure.  Drink now, or cellar for up to 10 years.  96 points, SRP ~ $100.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.

~ The Vigna Schiena d'Asino bears the Black Wax Seal ~

Next up was a bottle of rosso from crazed artist turned winemaker, Bibi Graetz.  Testamatta, literally "Hot Head", is a wine that is anything but wild and crazy.  In fact, it's elegant, refined and racy.  Made from 100% Sangiovese from old vines near Fiesole, the 2005 Testamatta is a dark blackish red.  The wine is perfumed with berries, anise and flowers. Fresh herbs of sage, and forest notes accent the palate where a solid core of cherry fruit is center stage. The key characteristic here is the racy, sleekness of the fruit.  It's very elegant, and refined on the palate.  While delicious, this bottle doesn't have the exuberance or the power of a previous bottle tasted in April.  Paired wonderfully with Fava Bean Risotto topped with Prosciutto and shaved Parmigiano cheese.   92 points, about $75. 

~ Old Vine Sangiovese from Fiesole ~

~ Fava, Prosciutto & Reggiano Risotto ~



  1. Hi John,
    Cool wines here today (like everyday by the way) but first I have to say thanks for the nice feature on Pio Cesare the other day, always so informative, great work! I was wondering if by any chance you've tasted Pio Cesare Fides (Barbera) and Oltre (blend), which were not included in your report, and what you think about those wines?
    Also have to thank you and Elisa for the amazing Scavino interview!!
    I'm wondering.. Sometimes I buy, for example, 4 bottles of the same wine .. Put them in the cellar and drink them during the same year .. Even though I have them with different food pairing (I always have a glass or two while relaxing or cooking), to my taste, it seems that 2 of them were identical, one of them was a little less exuberant and the other showed oddly more acidity .. I happened a few times with different wines I bought, while other were more consistent.. Is it what you meant by the last Testamatta bottle being not as exuberant as a previous one? If so, I'm wondering if you have any clue about the reasons behind this??
    Thanks again for your great work and oh, your sicilian lamb recipe, we liked a lot ( I've added a little of rosemary to the meat while cooking it, it was nice), great pairing with Crognolo, thanks!!

  2. Raphael...

    I'll type more in a bit to answer your questions....but I have not had Fides recently. However, I did have Oltre and reviewed on this site. Just search "Oltre" in the Search box on the Home page and it should come up. Thanks again for all the comments. I appreciate it.


  3. Raphael,

    Yes, your situation is exactly what I meant in referring to Testamatta. I think the first thing I would say is that our own expectations can play a role in how we perceive a wine. The first time I had Testamatta 2005, it was better than imagined given the vintage. I then expected the second bottle to meet that expectation and it fell a little short.

    Storage and bottle variation can always be a culprit, but assuming you bought the wine at the same place and to a lesser degree, they're from the same case of wine, these two factors are mitigated slightly.

    And don't discount the impact food can have on wine's flavor - or, that one of your bottles simply could have been flawed. It happens. Volatile acidity, residual sugar, secondary fermentation that leads to a "spritz" - these can all happen accidentally in addition to wine being "corked".

    These reasons are why I like to buy several bottles of something I find very enjoyable. Thanks again for all the encouraging comments.