I was forging my way north for a week of fishing in Morayshire on that princess of rivers, the Findhorn. It's a long drive and as often before I managed to break it with an overnight stay and catch-up with friends in the Borders who had very kindly offered me a bed for the night.
Luke had recently celebrated (insomuch as one can celebrate anything in these socially deprived times) a significant birthday and I had had delivered an anniversary bottle to assist in the marking of the occasion. Luke generously pulled it out and decanted it for us to enjoy.
I know the producer of the bottle reasonably well and also know how long their wines can age. However, opening any bottle with half-a-century under its belt involves a degree of trepidation.
It's often when one is half-expecting disappointment that one finds the most pleasure from an on-form bottle. This was just such an occasion. What a thing!
Here's the note:
1971 Spanna Cantina del Camino, Antonio Vallana e Figlio
Colour is deep and healthy, showing a mahogany core and amber to its rim. Nose is extremely complex and changes frequently. It gives up dark cherry fruit that becomes sweeter with airing. And that fruit is punctuated by scents of turmeric, dried herbs and cold coffee. It comes over as piquant and high-toned and adds spice and smoke later. Aromas are dark. There are hints of ginger nut biscuits; blood and iron. Dry sand. In the mouth this is rich, dense and dark. Bovril leads the wave of umami. This is long and consistent with a very, very fine swathe of tannin. Really dense in texture, this, and with great length. And there’s that beef extract meatiness about it.
I wondered, perhaps unkindly, whether there might have been something other than Nebbiolo in this: wondered, whilst not caring a jot. It is completely delicious…