Monday, October 7, 2013

Vino di Medatazione

~ The Road & Sloping Vineyards leading to Castello Banfi ~

Poggio All'Oro, the Golden Slope, is a single vineyard with optimal exposure, sun and soil on the Castello Banfi estate.  It's sole purpose is to generate the fruit for Castello's Banfi's ultimate expression, their Brunello Riserva. A steep hillside vineyard that sits at 250 meters above sea level, Poggio All'Oro is meticulously cared for.  Brunello from this vineyard is made in only the most exceptional years and selection is severe.  Quantities are limited and any grapes not fit for Poggio All'Oro are declassified into the estate Brunello.  Indeed, since 1995, only six vintages have been released as of this writing.
The wine is the best at every stage and it's what I think all true Riserva's should be:  Selected from only the best fruit, aged longer before release, and sourced from a single vineyard. 
The 1995 Castello Banfi Poggio All'Oro is indeed a wine of contemplative mediation.  In the decanter, even at this age, the wine is a deep blackish red with violet and slight bricking tones at the rim. The extra long cork was difficult to extract but in perfect condition.  The wine was decanted for 60 minutes to aerate the aromas and remove the substantial sediment that had formed over the years.
The wine was taken to a restaurant and paired with a variety of dishes throughout an extended tasting menu.  The aromas from the glass are complex and explosive.  There's a deep core of crushed berry fruit, but the bottle sweet bouquet is redolent with exotic porcini mushroom aromas in massive proportion.  Layers of broken in leather, cigar box, flowers and savory balsamic notes filter through a veil of dried tobacco and earth aromas. It is heaven to smell. 
On the palate, the wine is silky smooth and elegant.  The tannins are fully resolved and the lasers of acidity make the full bodied ripe fruit fresh and vibrant.  Crushed wild berries, tobacco, mushroom, anise, and dried herbs assault the palate in waves. And on the finish, the wine coats your palate.  It sits there endlessly.  Absolutely wonderful with homemade pasta with shrimp in a light cream sauce, with roasted rack of lamb chops, and braised short ribs over garlic, horseradish mashed potatoes.  
Poggio All'Oro is aged for 24-30 months in French barrique and then an additional 3 years in a combination of oak vessels and bottle. Total aging is 5 years minimum prior to release.    97 points, about $90 upon release.  Current vintages are $120-$150 depending upon how hard you look.  It's worth it.

~ 1995 Castello Banfi Poggio All'Oro Brunello Riserva ~



  1. Hey John,
    Even though I feel a little jealous every time I read one of your review on a wine that old ;) , I find it's super nice to have those reviews, and it motivates for holding bottles that are just tempting to open right now. But still I'm wondering, how technically do you know when to open such a wine (I'm talking about that castello banfi poggio all'oro) for it to be at his best, or at least mature enough? Have you opened some along the way? Is it empirical to your previous tastings? Do you rely on the wine's technical specs?

  2. Hi Raphael,

    I have long experience with Banfi and this wine. I've had the 1995 once before and also the 1990, 1993, and 1997. If the wine is made, the stuffing is there, so I never really worry about it being too old. 15 years of age seems right.

    If I'm not familiar with a wine, I'll review other notes, or just open it younger. I'd rather do that then let it get too old. The bottom line - there's not a Brunello made that shouldn't be alive at 10 years of age in this day and age. The winemaking is so improved from what it was even 10 years ago - let alone 20.

    So it's a bit of experience and a bit of trial and error.