Friday, April 25, 2014

Cellar Note: 1999 Summus


~ The venerable Poggio Alle Mura Castle, home to Castello Banfi ~
 
Ah, the Cellar Note.... 
 
Every time someone asks the question:  "Why do you like wine so much, why do you save wines for so long?"  the answer almost always is very simple - Wine is special.  Nowhere in the world does a simple beverage transcend it's purpose as a libation more than wine.  None other can evoke images of past years, weather conditions or the political winds of the day.  It can't cause a fleeting, wistful recollection of a since deceased winemaker. It can't commemorate the year a child was born or the year you were married.  It can't remind of a special trip.  No one buys beer or water or soda and buries it in their basement behind hundreds of bottles of the same and hopes that one day, 10 years from now, the Coke will somehow taste different, taste better, then a bottle they can get off the shelf at the grocery store 15 minutes earlier.  Wine is special indeed.  
 
The 1999 Castello Banfi Summus  is the subject of our latest CellarNote.  Opened on Easter Sunday this is a wine from a wonderful, if underappreciated, Tuscan vintage.  At the time, the wine was a blend of 60% Brunello, 35% Cabernet, and 5% Syrah. In it's youth, Summus is often dominated by the Cabernet in the blend, but as it ages, the Cabernet mellows and the Sangiovese characteristics become more prominent. All the while, the Syrah lurks. 

The 1999 is still very dark purple.  It's appearance has changed very little but it's starting to undergo that magical metamorphosis that only living wine can achieve.  The wine was decanted from a monstrous coffee grind like sediment that left a substantial crust on the bottle.  Displaying aromas of crushed black cherry with flowers, mint, tobacco and smoked meat, this wine is clearly approaching it's apex aromatically.  On the palate, the wine is full bodied and long with intense flavors of crushed black fruit, vanilla, fresh herbs, mint, tobacco and smoke. All blend seamlessly.  A stunning effort, this has years of life ahead of it and even on it's 15th birthday, will easily last and continue to evolve for another 5-10 years.  95 points, abot $45 upon release.  It's delicious and was absolutely the perfect pairing for the star of Easter dinner.
 

~ The still youthful 199 Summus ~

For Easter I needed a fairly large piece of meat.  I almost overstepped my ambition as this thing - all 9 pounds of it - barely fit in the oven.  I didn't want to cut it into two roasts so thankfully, it just fit. 

~ I had the butcher butterfly it for me ~

~ I seasoned the inside with garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and then I stuffed it with prosciutto, baby spinach and fontina cheese.  I ended up adding even more spinach than pictured above and it still managed to disintegrate as the meat cooked - so use more ~

~ I first tied it cross wise and then one long strand down the middle.  It was easy to do, but it will be easier if you have an extra finger to help you. You want to tie it fairly tight to avoid leakage - especially of the melted cheese ~

~ After it was tied, I slid pancetta slices under the string all along the top of the roast.  If you can find a red wine that won't pair well with this dish, I'd love to hear it.  The meat, cheese and smokey notes from the pancetta & prosciutto were heaven with the complexity of the 1999 Summus ~

Buon Fine Settimana! 





 
 


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