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Two world famous vintners

World famous wine producers are in a class by themselves. Two such producers from Italy were in town recently and if you know wine, you’ll know the names and their reputations. They are Angelo Gaja from Piedmont and Lamberto Frescobaldi from Tuscany. I met with both of them to taste their amazing wines.

Angelo Gaja almost single-handedly made Barbaresco what it is today and turned Nebbiolo into a popular grape. In 1996, he acquired an estate in Barolo and invested in Tuscany creating a Brunello. His wines are exceptional statements of art.

His 2008 Brabaresco ($159.00, Vintages) has lots of energy and focus. Full of sweet red cherries, flowers, spices, licorice and dried herbs, it has excellent depth and a firm, tannic backbone. The 2007 ‘Dagromis’ Barolo ($79.95, Consignment Warehouse) is beautifully balanced with lots of rich cherry, ripe plum, sweet tobacco, tar and pepper. Some spice, leather and cinnamon notes add to its complexity. Sour cherry, tar, truffles and licorice embrace the 2005 ‘Spress’, Langhe Nebbiolo ($250-$350). Full, rich and complex, it has great aging potential. The 2010 Sito Moresco, Langhe ($54.95, Vintages) is wonderfully juicy with dark plum, cloves and spice. Cabernet and Merlot dance with Nebbiolo here and some fleshy tannin add grip.

From Tuscany, the 2007 Pieve S. Restituta Brunello di Montalcino ($54.95, Vintages) sports red cherry, marzipan, gingerbread and Asian spice. Dense and silky with lush tannins, it should age gracefully. The final wine, the 2009 Ca’ Marcanda Magari ($65.95, Vintages On-Line, Nov. 19), also from Tuscany, possesses lush, Merlot fruit and spicy, Cabernet black currant with a touch of mint and coffee. Agent in Ontario is Stem Wine Group (www.stemwinegroup.com).

Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi’s history in Montalcino, Tuscany, dates back hundreds of years. In a region known for its famous wine, Brunello, made exclusively from the Sangiovese grape, he was the first to create a wine in the region, in 1993, blending Merlot with Sangiovese in roughly equal amounts. The wine is Luce. Originally, it was collaboration between himself and Mondavi of California, but as of the 2004, it became his sole creation.

On this trip, he presented a rare, 11-year vertical of Luce from 2009 back to 1999. It was a real treat.The 2009, which already seemed approachable, showed blueberry, cherry, plum, flowers, licorice and spice with polished tannins. 2008 was loaded with cherries, sweet plum, tobacco leaf, anise, mineral and a touch of cocoa and flowers. Very refined with a rich mouth feel! Muscle and finesse describe the 2007, with wild blackberry, black cherry, leather, spice, wild herbs, supple tannins and vibrant acidity. The 2006 sported cherry pie, blackberry and spices with full body and velvety tannins. Lots of power here! Chocolate, tobacco, earth, coffee and leather abound in the austere 2005. With somewhat less alcohol than the other vintages, the 2004 was lush with earthy blackberry, plum and herbs. Good acidity with medium to full-body! The 2003, from a hot vintage, displayed cherry, cola, leather, vanilla and blackberry. Firm, leathery and austere, it showed more evolution. The atypical 2002 showed vanilla, chocolate, tar, forest berries and cherries. Overall, softer and austere! Almost Bordeaux-like, the 2001 offered up cassis, plums, cherries, leather and earth. Lush, somewhat gamey and firm, it still maintained a certain elegance. Should continue to evolve! From another warm vintage, the 2000 carried currants and wild strawberries that morphed into spicier aromas of licorice and cloves with notes of tobacco. Soft, round and enticing! Finally, the 1999, with subtle aromas of chocolate, berries, tobacco and a floral hint, was full, wonderfully silky, long, and succulent. A class act! The 2009 is currently available in Vintages for $99.95. You can imagine what older vintages might cost, if they were available. Agent in Ontario is Authentic Wine and Spirits (www.awsm.ca).Needless to say, both of these producers define what great wine should be and their products age decades. Although pricey, sipping their creations is truly an enlightening experience.

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