Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva 1985
This week's wine comes slightly delayed (although by hours rather than the days I initially thought it might be) as a consequence of some technical problems that were the result of upgrading my firewall and anti-virus software. Lesson learned: drop Norton, a once reputable name that now seems universally derided by the techies from whom I sought advice when I found myself faced with a massive, almost unrecoverable system failure, having moved to their new Norton 360 package. It is thanks only to persistence (and perhaps luck) on my part that I still have a functioning computer on which to continue writing my regular updates.
And so, frustrated by an endless series of reboots I selected the 1985 Chianti Classico Riserva bottled by Badia a Coltibuono from the cellar, a wine that I could perhaps contemplate, a distraction in the face of a very trying day. Is this not one of wine's greatest functions? I think so. As it happens, my hand landed on the neck of this bottle very soon after stepping into my cellar, almost by chance. Some good luck amongst the bad? Indeed, it was chance alone that led to me acquiring this bottle in the first place. It arrived as part of a mixed lot which I had purchased by remote bid in an auction, the bottles in the lot on which I was concentrating being several from Mas de Daumas Gassac, of the 1992 vintage if I am not mistaken. The solitary bottle of Chianti that accompanied them went unnoticed when I viewed the catalogue, as did the lone bottle of Madeira, and I placed a bid based on my perceived value of the bottles from the Languedoc. And so this was a true bonus, a surprise when I opened the carton after taking delivery in order to inspect the bottles. I must confess, however, having experienced few really old bottles of Chianti, and several that seemed tired at just ten years of age, I was not overly optimistic about the wine's likely performance.
At first glance the colour was not too promising, the first few drops showing a very mature brown hue as they enter the glass. But when a decent portion has been poured, and the wine held up to the light, there is in fact still a good number of red tones here. The core has a deep, red, oxblood, mahogany hue, fading out to an orange-tawny-pink rim. And the nose is just fine. There is a lot of old undergrowth and earthy aromas, over a meaty-sweet roasted persona, secondary characteristics that might come with any old wine, but there are little notes which suggest Chianti more than these, nuances of oranges, faint dried-out coffee grounds and most of all a vein of custard powder, which sounds peculiar but it is something I have encountered before in the few elderly bottles of Sangiovese that have passed my lips. Still appealingly fresh on the palate, cool and well-defined, round, still quite grippy which is impressive, and thus nicely although perhaps rather robustly structured. It has a good texture though, although it perhaps dries out on the finish where the tannin shows in a somewhat more obvious fashion. Good meaty flavour, although it too dies away more quickly than you might otherwise expect. Nevertheless, overall very pleasant indeed, and more than sufficient as a distraction from the vagaries of firewalls and anti-virus software. 17/20 (17/9/07)