It’s been a while since I bitched and moaned about tasting (okay, and drinking) wines long before “their time.” So I think we can both agree that I am due for a repeat.
The trouble is, in the words of Loki, “I am burdened with glorious purpose!” when it comes to wine criticism. Generally, I’m supposed to taste vino, ascertain where it sits on the quality spectrum from worst to best in the world, taking into account where it’s from, what it’s made of, and when it was crafted, and guessing at the intentions of those who made it, then make a determination of a recommendation (or not), including guessing when it will likely be drinking at its best, even though that last part is almost entirely subjective.
It also makes the “job” bittersweet, in that occasionally I run into a bottle from the sample pool that is excellent and downright stunning, enjoyable now but teasing at how, given X amount years of further bottle repose, the constituent elements might come together to offer something even more compelling.
It’s the “f*ck!-this-tastes-great-now-dammit-why-couldn’t-I–have-waited?!??” syndrome. First World problem, yes. But doesn’t make the tinge of regret any easier to bear, probably because I am a weakling.
Anyway, before I flagellate myself over this and you start playing sad songs on the world’s smallest violin, let’s talk about the stunner…
2011 Livio Felluga Terre Alte (Colli Orientali del Friuli, $75)
I’ve no previous knowledge of this wine or producer, apart from knowing it’s a bit of a Friuli-Venezia Giulia icon (which I’ll admit is a fine start as far as I’m concerned). A mix of Friulano, Pinot Bianco, and Sauvignon, it’s named after Livio Felluga’s estate-grown vineyards (on Eocene-era marl and sandstone soils). What I find most interesting about this wine is that it’s harmony betrays absolutely none of its somewhat patchwork construction. The Sauvignon and Pinot Bianco were fermented in stainless steel, the Friulano in small oak casks, and the whole shebang is blended together after about ten months of aging, then cellar aged in bottles for another nine months.
But there really aren’t too many seams visible in this straw-colored beauty. Flowers and fresh herbs are upfront, ushering in tropical and citrus fruit notes, lemon zest, and then dried herbs. There’s a touch of almond going on that is so compelling, it’s like having the bowl of fresh nuts on the table next to you, with your hand continually reaching in, you cannot stop because they’re so f*cking good. It’s heady, pungent, and complex, and I am, of course, kicking myself that this bottle couldn’t be preserved to see how all of this stuff matures in a good five years or so. Hey, Coravin, where the hell is my sample?!????