I've written often about the glories of mature wines. I've said before that to comprehend the complex nature of a vintage wine is the highest reward for a committed wine drinker. But what does this mean? To really grasp a wine with twenty, thirty, or forty years of maturity, you have to have already drunk that wine at less mature points in its development. You have to have built a relationship with that wine over time, come to know it in conversation, and, in an ideal world, drunk wines from neighboring producers so that you have a holistic idea of the region, of producer styles, of multiple vintages, and of how these wines grow and change over time.
But don't get me wrong. Your goal might be to get a handle on all the myriad changes, the kaleidoscopic notes, and the symphony of flavors and aromas that a mature wine has; however, you have to drink vintage wines to get that comprehension. It's a catch-22 of a sort, yet it's an extraordinary road on the way to knowledge. There are many reasons to drink vintage wines: to add to your knowledge, sure, but also to celebrate a milestone, to mark an anniversary, to honor a person. Or just because you want to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience, jolt your senses, and try something new that's also rather old.
Today, I'm proud to present two glorious vintage wines, starting with the 1982 Sassicaia, one of the last vintages to come from the hands of Sassicaia's creator, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. It'd be a historic wine for that point, but it's a beautiful vintage wine on its own terms, and I'm thrilled to put it in your hands. I had to find a fitting partner for this Sassicaia bottle, and I found one in Aldo Conterno 1974 Barolo Granbussia Riserva Colonnello, a rare cru version of this extraordinary Barolo. Finally, I'm very pleased to present a trio of wines that aren’t yet old but will give decades of pleasure, the three 2011 cru Barbarescos from Angelo Gaja.
Something old, something new-ish, and a lot to celebrate. Enjoy!