Well, it’s only the second weekend of our special new Monte Bello Library Tasting, so we’re still in the early pleasurable throes of learning, re-learning, discovering and re-discovering these vintages (1994, 1992, 1992, in 375ml), but I thought I’d give a little run-down on our collective internal consensus (meaning; the generalized, centralized, and codified co-consensae of the MBTR staff) to date:
The astonishing thing about the 1994 is that, despite the age of the wine (14 years in the bottle!) and the bottle format (faster maturation in the smaller format), it’s actually still showing quite young; almost adolescent even. It’s very structure forward, with firm tannins and bright acidity front and center. The nose is youthfully funky, compressed, and dense, while the mouthfeel is comparatively lean and spicy; all aspects of the profile are showing quite deliciously, but the overall melodocism is still en route from discordance to harmony–this is a fascinating and tasty peek at a slow-moving, tremendously complex vintage, that is undeniably going to keep offering rewards for years to come.
Of the trio, the 1992 is currently showing as the most elegant of the three; the mouthfeel is utterly silken, the acidity is brightly interwoven, the tannins are refined and subtle, and the fruit is seamlessly integrated with the structural components. By comparison, the ’92 is showing as a quieter wine, cool jazz rather than hot, zen brush & ink as opposed to abstract expressionism; the movement across the palate is gentle, graceful, gracious, and delicate. Still showing slightly to the young side, but very much beginning to approach a finessed resolution.
Well, to date the 1991 is still holding fast to its top-of-the-pops reputation; there is just no getting around the fact that this is an extraordinary vintage, and to taste it at this point — 17 years in a 375ml!– is an extraordinary palate experience, a real proof-of-concept moment as regards ageability and the Monte Bello. In addition to its notable longevity, the vintage exhibits an astonishing and singular flavor profile: so dense, so compressed, so concentrated; the purity and decadence of the fruit is almost too much for the palate to bear. One can only withstand the sensually oenophilic equivalent of goosebumps for so long … A fittingly stunning coda to a gleefully stunning tasting.