Sunday, March 20, 2011

Washington Super Tuscan v. Italy

This match pits a Washington state Super Tuscan from Walla Walla against an Italian Super Tuscan.

The matchup was inspired by the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race which rode through the region of Tuscany last week.  I have been holding on to a bottle of Five Star Cellars Quinque Astrum waiting for the right moment to open it.  This seemed like a great reason to pop its top!

2008 Five Star Cellars Quinque Astrum v. 2008 Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso

Tale of the tape

5 Star Cellars Quinque Astrum
58% Sangiovese, 33% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 2nd use American and European Oak
Purchased for 27.99 at Corky Cellars

Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso
50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 5% Sangiovese aged for 10 months in first and second use Italian oak barrels.
Purchased for 16.99 from Garagiste (compare at up to $30 on wine searcher)

Round 1.  First Opening:
5 Star on first opening the nose is mostly sour pie cherry, currant, mineral and a bit of toasty oak.  The palate is sweet clean red berries with a finish that is full of cherries with some notes of tart cedar at the end.

Le Macchiole on first opening the nose is pie cherry and currants with a hint of mineral and leather.  The palate is quite tart with pie cherries and the finish is also showing quite a bit of tannin with character of cherry pit.

The first round was very close.  Both contestants are showing very similar characteristics and there is not much to differentiate one from the other.

Round 1 goes to 5 Star for having a slightly more refined finish.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening:
5 Star is developing some black cherry, currant and toasted smoke on the nose with the palate showing toast, currant, toffee and some slight cedar tartness on the finish.

Le Macchiole develops a much richer nose of sour cherry, currant, leather peat bog and cedar spice box.  The palate has plenty of rich dark fruit and currant that trails off slowly with a bit of cedar tartness that is much mellower after an hour of air.

Round 2 goes to Le Macchiole

Round 3. One day later
5 Star is building a nose of dark fruit and plum.  The palate has black cherry fruit and leather with some cedar spice box and a bit of semi sweet chocolate.

Le Macchiole has a very similar deep dark fruit nose with hints of spice.  The palate is rich with dark currant, black cherry and a long finish that shows some slight tartness at the end.

Another really close round.  Both wines have really continued to build into large, full bodied heavy weight contenders. 

Round 3 goes to Le Macchiloe by a very slim margin.

Wrap up and over all observations

This was a very close match and it could have easily gone to either one of our luchadors.  In the end the Italian contestant edged the Washington Super Tuscan, but just barely.  Both showed very similar character during each round of the competition and this contest was very difficult to judge.

Really interesting comparison considering the difference in the blends of these two wines.  There are common elements of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but the percentages are quite different.  I was really surprised when I went back to look at the blends after completing my tasting notes.

Final tally: Le Macchiloe 2, Five Star Cellars 1. 

Le Macchiloe may have one this bout, but the margin of victory was very slim.  I give both contestants a score of 87 - excellent.


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