Piu ‘Pupa Pepu’ Please!
I’d like to take a moment to talk about a very special wine. This was one I discovered at a tasting fair a few months ago. I try so many wines at these fairs (life is hard I know) and most blur together by the end of the day. Very rarely does one stand out so much I’m ready to pack up my things and go home satisfied. Pupa Pepu was one of those rarities. Not only was it impossible to spit out, it was impossible to refuse a top up! So when the lovely Vaughan Thomas of Buongusto Wines offered to send me two vintages of the Pupa Pepu to compare the differences in age, it was like Christmas all over again!
Pupa Pepu is made by Roberto Bellini (no not the filmmaker, that’s Benigni!), one of the owners of Podere Brizio in Montalcino. The famous Tuscan town of Montalcino is known for its Brunello, made from Sangiovese Grosso, a clone of the famous Chianti varietal. But Pupa is a ‘Super Tuscan’, meaning that it doesn’t stick to traditional blending laws of the region, but can use foreign grape varieties. In this case, Pupa is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. The name Pupa Pepu (try saying it 10 times fast!) apparently comes from Bellini’s grandfather, so nicknamed because of his large, handlebar moustache.
So one dreary day in January, in need of a cure for the post-Christmas blues, I invited some friends with good palates over for a tasting of the two Pupas, and some homemade beef stew to match. We tried a 2006 vintage against a 2000 (I’d tried the latter at the fair). The differences between the two were astonishing!
The 2006 took ages to open up, but when it did it, revealed its sour cherry notes followed by sweet spices and vanilla. The tannins and acidity were there in full force, and we all agreed it was typically Italian. Had I just drunk the 2006 with the stew I would’ve been satisfied we’d had a very decent quality Italian red. However, one sip of the 2000 and we saw the incredible potential of the 2006. Far more complex and aromatic, cherry in colour, with notes of a much-less-sour-cherry and a pine-scented furniture polish (much nicer than it sounds trust me!), the bottle was finished off at an alarming rate. We all agreed that the 2000 could’ve been aged for another 5-8 years and would’ve been even better…but who could wait that long! It was testament to the virtue of waiting though. So if you find yourself in possession of a 2006 Pepu, have patience dear one! It’ll be soooo much better in six (or 12) years! For help on when to drink those fine wines lying around in your cellar, check out what Decanter has to say.
So Mr. Bellini, I salute you…and your grandfather with the handlebar moustache!