Saturday, July 5, 2014

1997 I Balzini White Label Super Tuscan Blend

All right!  It's the first Saturday of the month, and you know what that means, Cellar Saturday!  That day of the month where I raid the cellar for something a little more mature or out of the ordinary to taste and share with all of you.  Tonight it's a relatively recent acquisition, as I just bought a 4-year vertical of this wine from Wines Till Sold Out, and tonight I've opened the oldest, the 1997 I Balzini White Label Super Tuscan, a blend of Sangiovese (50%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), two varietals that I know age quite well.  Given its age, I opened this wine and decanted it about an hour before tasting, so here goes nothing!

The wine is an inky, deep purple color in the glass with some ruby around the edges.  The nose is very earthy, with quite a bit of smoke, oak and cedar over a layer of leather and black pepper.  The taste is surprisingly fruit forward with rich flavors of blackberry and plum at the outset that quickly transitions to some stark mineral notes of limestone and iron midpalate.  The tannins are quite mellow after nearly two decades but they still give nice structure to the smooth and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's drinking quite nicely, but I believe it's somewhat on the downhill side of its life.  As for pairings, it would be very nice with a wide variety of steaks or spicy Italian dishes, but tonight I've gone the other direction and am enjoying it with a grilled wild Alaskan salmon steak served over a bed of baby greens with all sorts of picnic sides, including corn on the cob, cole slaw and potato salad with a bit of fresh dill.  The fruit of the wine and mild acidity offer a great complement to the rich fattiness of the salmon, the perfect summer fare!  Salut!

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