Classification: IGT Umbria
While the world’s wine bloggers enjoy a jolly good knees up in Perugia at the #iwinetc, I thought I would pay homage to the event with a quick note on one of the very best wines of the region, Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala 2009. One of Umbrias most iconic wines, along with with the Sagrantinos of Bea & Caprai and Lungarotti’s Torgiano Rubesco Vigna Monticchio Riserva, Castello della Sala’s Cervaro della Sala takes its rightful place in the line up of Umbrian wine superstars. The Cervaro della Sala is a constant feature in the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchiere awards and has won the top award almost every year up to and including 2018.
However, it’s not often you get the chance to taste the Cervaro della Sala with almost 10 years age. As the 2009 veered away from such acute prior oakiness I was interested to see if the wines after ’09 have aged any better or worse than those vintages prior to 2009.
Benefiting from the huge experience of the Antinori family (who took over the estate in 1940), the Castello della Sala Chardonnay is certainly the most famous, and by some the most highly regarded, Chardonnay of Italy. Decorated by Gambero Rosso, seemingly year on year, the 2009 scooped another Tre Bicchieri award, one of only nine awards to be bestowed upon Umbria this year.
So how is the 2009 Antinori Cervaro della Sala any different from the similarly excellent Gambero Rosso award scooping 2008? Simply a matter of vintage? Well, not quite.
Although vintage did play an important role in the difference between the 2008 and the 2009, the most obvious difference is the reduction of oak on the nose and palate. 2009 is the first year since I’ve been tasting this Chardonnay that the wood, especially in the early phase of the wines life, has not made itself immediately known upon opening the bottle.
2009 is the first year that “new oak” has not been specified by Antinori and here we have a slightly different, possibly more interesting, Castello della Sala. We already know the critics are just as impressed, but what will your everyday Antinori fans make of the changes and will the 2010 follow suit? Time will tell.
Apart from the use of new oak (or not) – there were significant differences in the growing season. 2008 was a classic vintage in Umbria with ideal conditions, a good amount of water in spring and a long, steady beautiful summer with the harvest coming in late August.This balanced, systematic weather allowed for perfectly ripe bunches, making great wine in such a vintage, is child’s play for the winemakers at Antinori. In comparison, 2009 was a little more challenging with earlier budding, a blisteringly hot August and an even earlier harvest in mid August left tight skinned berries though with zippy acidity.
Cervaro della Sala 2009
Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2009 – BUY – £37.99
An pale golden colour with satisfying aromas of butter, hazelnut and caramel, although the oak profile strikes a better balance in 2009 than 2008 with tropical fruits, banana and flowers on the nose. The palates hazelnut & pear twang and coating, full bodied mouthfeel give way to a long pleasant finish where the acidity comes through very strongly. A slightly too acidic but weighty wine that can’t have much more to give – drink now. 90 Points
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