It's been a while since my last “Happening Now Tasting”. Soave and assorted World Cup Pinots enjoyed priority in the past weeks. Reason enough to celebrate my live tasting comeback with a risky, due to its age, vintage and provenance, and hopefully in the best case extraordinary Pinot Noir from Italy. Ca' del Bosco from Lombardia region is a melodiously name in the world of sparkling wine. No doubt about that! Their still wines however do not have the widespread reputation and more importantly the distribution as their sparklers from Franciacorta region have. Especially Ca' del Bosco' s Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, named Pinéro, belong to the best of their kind in Italy. Today's Pinot Nero is a rather special one with the name Sebino 1996. What is so special? Sebino is the name of the IGT in which the grapes for Ca' del Bosco's Pinéro are cultivated. So, Sebino 1996 is actually the Pinéro 1996. Again ... so – why then the change of names? For a better and more precise explanation I'd like to quote from the technical sheet on Ca' del Bosco's website:
“The 1996 vintage for Pinot Nero will be remembered for its abundant production of grapes. We practiced a drastic thinning out of the bunches, but remaining grapes when harvested showed a dishomogeneous phenolic maturation. The result of vinification and aging created an interesting wine with a peculiar aromatic profile. The structure still holds up in its depth for the best vintages. As in the past, for "Maurizio Zanella", Ca' del Bosco has decided to not use the name "Pinero", but solely identifying it by the denomination that in Franciacorta emulates it: Sebino".
Well then, let's see how this “ dishomogeneous phenolic maturation” might have affected the actual quality and longevity of good old Sebino ...
6:13 pm (popped and poured)
Colour: obvious broad coronal discolouration, core still rather dark and vital in colour, plenty of transparency – unimportant additional information: viciously solid and sharp cap (watch your fingertips) and impressive long cork
Nose: barn-life, baking spice, pretty herbaceous, some mild smoke, evident aromas of rose-hips and traces of lime zest; so far not a lot of expression – errrrr, so far … dunno what to think about the nose
Taste: in a reserved mood, mute and cool as well as very ripe strawberry and red currant flavours as well as minor impressions of dark cherries, gentle and nicely evolved touch of smokiness, very slightly herbaceous (by far not as herbaceous as the nose), well integrated sediments of oak flavours (just minor sediments) and some indications of Danish biscuits plus accompanying spices (like in not so few Franciacorta sparklers); relatively lean and vivid (!) structure with a subtle appearing touch of acid; already absolutely decent “echo”; I am pretty sure there is more to come! So far taste far better and more gently evolved than the stinky and herbaceous nose!
Nose: still not so much of expression and definitely not really all too appealing; now at least substantially less herbaceous, I got scents of smoked ham, still some baking spice, less barn-life, surprisingly more and more of diffuse dark fruits and (imagined – or not?) calcareous characteristics
Taste: now the fruit flavours are really awaking, they are getting more obscurely dark, more serious and (astoundingly) more vivid, there is far more substance, more inter-tongue'al communication, far more saltiness to this Pinot Nero at the moment and not to forget a distinct calcareous mineral imprint (here, I am sure it is not just imagined); anyway, still a stern and tart – or better put: serious – Pinot Noir! I really don't like to write such nonsense: very much burg-style Pinot Noir; really impressive right now!
Nose: it might sound strange - now the nose is rising as well, it is getting fresher and more communicative, however the actual aroma precision of the palate is missing – whatever, the nose is really getting better and more balanced
Taste: no substantial change so far, not indications for a downfall either; at the moment it is standing like a solid, subtle and serious calcareous rock!
Just a short conjoined update. Maybe this mentioned rock is melting a bit. Right now I am under the impression that Il Sebino is getting a bit more brown in every sense. The nose is showing more pulpy fruit and diffuse earthy fragrances. The herbaceous aromas are having a come back as well. I think there is a similar taste-evo in a more moderated way. I think from now on it is degrading …, naa, this is no time for thinking – more for drinking, I am absolutely certain it is degrading rapidly! Gotta finish it off!
I am not totally certain about my “verdict”. Perhaps the surprising factor is a bit too enthusiastically decisive tonight - what the hell: eventually it was some fantastic ****** Pinot-stuff for me … by a close margin. I am not sure though how to handle the possible influence of the mentioned “dishomogeneous phenolic maturation”. Surely it was somehow more herbaceous and a bit lighter than the other two vintages of Pinéro I had so far. To be quite honest. I like Pinéro Sebino this way a bit more ...