Feb 14, 2012

2000 & 2001 Solaia, 1978 Barbeto Madeira, 1999 Vin de Constance, Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie (NV)

Another Mange Sud Wine Monday. Another great start to the week. Two vintages of Solaia, a 1978 Madeira, 1999 Vin de Constantia (the surprise of the tasting) and Taittinger champagne. How could this go wrong? It couldn't.

Mange Sud (Tehtaankatu 34, Helsinki) offers fine and mature wines by glass since opening for mondays a month ago. Anyone living in, or visiting, Helsinki should consider going to this restaurant if they love wines.

The main reason for this trip was to taste two vintages of Solaia side-by-side. Solaia is what some call the uncrowned king of the supertuscan wines, with 75% cabernet sauvignon, 5% cabernet franc and 20% sangiovese in both wines. They had opened the bottles 4,5 hours before, optimising the taste of wine for customers (they really know their stuff in this restaurant).

Ah, the wines:

2000 Solaia, IGT Toscana (by Antinori)
Surprising purple colour, however this is slightly more mature looking than the 2001, 2000 having a slight orange hue while 2001 is more purple and slightly darker.  A beautiful nose of mature sweet black cherries and cherry liqueur with blackcurrant juice, dark berries, tobacco, musk, aristocratic oak. Also some greenish spices/paprika.

Remarkably well balanced. Beautiful, really well approachable at this age (11.5 years). The soft and sweet tannin structure of Solaia really sets it ahead of most wines claiming to be "super" coming from Tuscany, tannins being beautifully integrated, not drying the mouthfeel. Full bodied, love sangiovese's cherry notes mixed with cabernet's blackcurrant on the palate. Blackcurrant jam, mocha, with medium alcohol (13.5% abv). Pleasant, slightly toasted aftertaste is is long, however longer in 2001 than in 2000. The story of the wine is how everything is there, all the components, in nice balance. It is ready to drink, however can be kept - however should be drank earlier than 2001.

2001 Solaia, IGT Toscana (by Antinori)
Wow. Purple colour, much younger and slightly deeper than in 2000. Sign for being younger, however how about the characteristics? Intensive nose of ink, trademark sweet and ripe black cherries,  blackcurrant jam and mocha, in a bigger, darker package than the 2000. Definately a bigger wine than vintage 2000 - the difference in vintages really shows. And it shows really well on the palate.

Dark berries, sweet dark cherry, some leather, tannins really well integrated. Again really well balanced, and although already really well approachable, the 2001 is still developing and could be drank much later than the previous vintage. Both 2001 and 2000 were matured in new French oak (Alliers, Troncais). The long aftertaste is also a little toasted like in 2000.

How did they manage to produce such a wine - beautifully balanced and approachable at this stage, yet having massive potential for cellaring and improving (really good fruit and tannin structure, medium+ acidity, alcohol 13.5% abv)? This is serious winemaking. Either with nice a steak or for meditation only. With my grilled steak, the wine was almost overpowering, such a full-bodied taste.

1999 Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia Estate (South Africa)
The surprise of the tasting. Originally a wine of kings, consumed by Napoleon, the French court, the English court, Bismarck, and written about by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen in their novels, the Vin de Constance all but dissapeared between 19th and 20th century due to phylloxera, the dreaded disease which also wiped almost all of Europe's vineyards. I am glad they continued to produce this great dessert wine in the early 1980s.

This one is like a really good sauternes however with a darker feeling to it. Acidity is excellent here, like trademark from top sauternes, however this one was made of Muscat de Frontignan in South Africa. Like sauternes, the Vin de Constance should be kept 20-30+ years before opening.

A brownish red colour, almost resin red with orange, watery hue. Thick in the glass, slow legs.
Plenty of pineapple, resin, strawberry juice, mandarin notes with dark christmas spices and thick honey, almost reminiscent of a d'Yquem nose with a darker feeling to it.

Luscious sweet, great acidity which really makes this one stand out and be comparable to great dessert wines, taste follows the nose with the pineapple, strawberry, however has also a really nice dried&sugared citrus fruit taste, and slightly nutty and really long aftertaste. This 1999 will develop beautifully, however can be consumed right now.

Producer indicates 160g/l sugar content. Only some 12-13% alcohol. Maturation of 18 months in french oak. They tell this is the only wine from outside of France accepted to museum of wine in France.

Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie (Non-Vintage) - coming soon

1978 Barbeto Madeira  - coming soon

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