On February 6th I was honored to attend a 10-vintage vertical tasting of the singular Il Caberlot wines of Podere Il Carnasciale. As you may know, Il Carnasciale is a Tuscan producer of wines made from a variety unique to them — what is believed to be a hybrid of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Proprietor Bettina Rogosky was in San Francisco for the Slow Wine and Tre Biccheri tastings, and was kind enough to secure me a seat at this dinner generously hosted by their national importer Rare Wine Co. The event was held in a private room at the Murray Circle restaurant in the lovely Cavallo Point Hotel, just across the Golden Gate Bridge in the Presidio at Fort Baker.
The wines were opened 4 hours in advance and served directly from magnums, as that is the only way they have been bottled since the first vintage in 1988. Given the tiny quantities produced, it’s not surprising that this was the largest vertical tasting in the estate’s history; it will be surpassed in three years’ time, however, when on the 25th anniversary Bettina hopes to taste every single vintage ever produced. The night’s ten wines were served in four flights for comparative purposes: 09-08; 05-04; 02-01-00; and 99-98-96.
As you will see from my detailed notes below, there were several common themes — transparency of vintage; rich nose; dark color; silky mouthfeel; a consistently high level of quality; and great drinkability. Much to my surprise, my favorites were the vintages where the minerality was more apparent — 2004, 2001, 1996. That said, they were all fantastic and almost every one would’ve scored in the mid-90s for me. In addition, the food from Executive Chef Justin Everett was fantastic, and the pairings inspired. All in all it was a wonderful evening…
- 2009 – Nose of green pepper (showing the Cab Franc influence), brambles and blackberry. Dark/opaque color. Sweet, ripe, dark, black cherry fruit. Finishes with black pepper and iron/minerals. 3300 magnums produced.
- 2008 – Ripe black fruit nose with black pepper. Very soft, silky mouthfeel (showing Merlot, in contrast to the 2009). Dark fruit, but silky and lithe on the palate. Good acidity and great focus.
- 2005 – Dark, brooding nose of dark chocolate and black fruit. Sweet dark fruit on the palate, with a silky soft and beautiful mouth. Finishes a little more red, sour-ish cherry. Round and ripe. 2000 magnums produced.
- 2004 – Leaner, dark nose — less expressive. Dark fruit, cocoa powder, black cherry palate. More acidity, great focus and complexity, sour cherry finish. 1800 magnums produced.
- 2002 – Red fruit nose, with a touch of orange peel. Red fruit (sour cherry, cranberry) and high toned floral notes on the palate. Beautiful cherry and cranberry fruit with gorgeous balance. Very long finish, with good acidity still…
- 2001 – Huge, brooding, Bordeaux-like nose — wow! Dark fruit with iron notes and stunning minerality. Long, complex and deep. Yowza!
- 2000 – Darker, black cherry nose. Very classic. Round, ripe, full and rich on the palate. Finishes with a little earthy funk, coming across as very classic Bordeaux.
- 1999 – Dark, brooding, rich, black cherry chocolate nose. Palate tastes like molten dark chocolate cake. Glorious in a rich, sexy way. 1600 magnums produced.
- 1998 – Slightly lighter color. Leaner nose, a little more sour fruit with some funk and earth. Slightly lighter in weight, but lovely and nuanced. Someone mentioned beeswax on the palate — good call! 870 magnums produced.
- 1996 – Mineral nose with dark fruit. Vibrant minerality on the palate with black and red fruit. Big, silky, lovely and warm. This has the best of the fruit-driven vintages, with the added depth, complexity and nuance of age. Wow. My Wine Of The Night. 1000 magnums produced.