Tag Archives: tuscan wine

Top 2007 Brunello Blowout Sale

Brunello As It Was Meant To Be

If you love Brunello di Montalcino as much as I do, but are gun-shy of spending outrageous sums on wines that fail to live up to expectation – lean in, and listen closely: Today’s offer is a trifecta of old school Brunello perfection at unbelievable prices, all from the exceptional 2007 vintage. The three Brunello producers listed below are quality-focused traditionalists that remain true to the vision Clemente Santi, the founder of Brunello, set forth back in the 1860s. Namely, that Brunello should be a wine with an unmistakable sense of place and terroir that tastes nothing like other wines. Its character comes from the earth, not the person who made it. You will want a mixed case of 4 bottles each.

Costanti – Renowned for elegance, drinkability, and floral, spicy bouquets, Costanti keeps yields very low and ages in large botti. Demand always outstrips supply.

Fuligni – Their vineyards are in the “heart of the zone” where Brunello was born. Produced only in the best vintages (none in 2002 for example) and made using traditional methods: steel vat fermentation followed by aging in Slavonian casks. Fuligni Brunello is known for their vibrant aromas, supple tannins, succulent cherry flavors and minerality.

Lisini – Lisini makes quintessential Brunello that has attained cult status with extraordinary demand here in the U.S. Some of the vines hail from the mid-nineteenth century! Fermentation is done in glass-lined cement tanks with aging in large Slavonian botti. Extraordinary Brunello.

 

 
2007 Lisini
Brunello di Montalcino

..very beautiful… Sweet dark cherries, flowers, mint and licorice take shape as the wine opens up… finessed, seamless finish laced with sweet hints of tobacco and wild flowers rounds things out in style….

 
2007 Fuligni
Brunello di Montalcino

…Sweet red berries, flowers, mint, spices and anise are woven together beautifully in this large-scaled, generous wine. The wine gains volume and depth in the glass as the flavors built to a huge crescendo….

 

 
2007 Conti Costanti
Brunello di Montalcino

…Sweet floral notes lead to hints of tobacco, wild herbs and spices on the refined finish. Layers of fruit flesh out beautifully in a radiant, expressive wine that captures the essence of the vintage….

 

Stunning 92-Point Vino Nobile Under $20

The name Vino Nobile di Montepulciano may not roll out of the mouth easily, but the wines coming from that area of Tuscany are certainly mouth-watering. Fattoria del Cerro’s 2009 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is easy to fall in love with. By the way, Vino Nobile and Brunello and Montepulciano (the grape, not the town) are all synonyms for the Sangiovese grape. Lying southeast of Siena, the vineyards of Montepulciano produce wines on the style spectrum somewhere between the accessible, lighter-bodied Chiantis and the more full-bodied Brunello di Montalcino. Cerro has long been my go-to Vino Nobile, and the 2009 vintage is one of the best in the last decade. It is an absolute pleasure to drink now, and will pair perfectly with tomato-based pasta sauces, pizza, chicken and delicately braised beef or pork dishes. I guarantee you’ll love this wine.

 

2009 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile

…succulent dark cherries, mint, tobacco, licorice and new leather. The 2009 boasts gorgeous inner perfume and luscious fruit, all supported by firm yet beautifully integrated tannins…..

Wine for Brunello Lovers: di Neri Scores 100 Points

This is wine for Brunello lovers, made by one himself, Giacomo di Neri. The estate was founded 40 years ago and everything they make is beautiful… all the way to his top cuvee, Cerretalto, which Suckling rates 97 points and the Wine Enthusiast a perfect 100. The Tenuta Nuova cuvee is darn close too. I’m in awe of the dedication of Signor di Neri, and overwhelmed by his Brunellos, all of them. We tasted these new releases with him in Verona a few weeks back at the enorme wine fair VinItaly. The 2008 Tenuta Nuova is among the best of the vintage, which I say even after being chided for not dropping by the estate the last few years. The Cerretalto is stunning and released a year later than the Tenuta Nuova as a reserve. You’re gonna want that.

 

2008 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova

The sawdust and graphite aromas turn to cherry and raspberry flavors in this vibrant, complex red. A beam of sweet fruit imparts energy and resonance, carrying this to a long, expansive aftertaste….

 

2007 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto

…perfection. Dark and fleshy, the wine delivers ever-evolving aromas of dark fruit, chocolate, spice and tobacco. The acidity is carefully balanced against the wine’s thickness and rich texture….

 

Serious Chianti Riserva: My Top 100 Viticcio

I think of the folks at Viticcio as true amici: I can count on them to deliver bright rich wines that are top values year after year. They haven’t disappointed me… nor the critics, in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Their real triumph was in the middle, that riserva so good it made Wine Spectator’s Top 100 twice. I can sell you the ’07, just as classico and earthy at $22.99! You’ll be quite happy with this Chianti Classico riserva. Help me make some room for more! Stock up at this great price and get out your best recipes.

 

2007 Viticcio
Chianti Classico Riserva

Subtle currant, cedar and floral aromas follow through to a dense, full-bodied palate of ripe fruits and silky tannins, with a long finish. A little age will soften this just slightly. Really serious….

98 Point Paleo: Bolgheri Beams

Bolgheri is home to some of Italy’s most revered wines: Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tua Rita and Guado al Tasso to name just a few, but none more highly praised than Le Macchiole’s Paleo. Le Macchiole produces only 100% varietal wines, Paleo being made entirely of Cabernet Franc. The story of Le Macchiole winery is incredible. Cinzia Merli and her talented husband, Eugenio, transformed a small family vineyard into one of the most coveted and collected group of wines in the world. Then without warning, tragically, Eugenio died. Everyone expected Cinzia either to sell or to fail. But, to everyone’s surprise, she not only survived and succeeded, she became a superstar, her wines are now better than ever. They are distinctive and beautiful with the essence of pure, ripe fruit, balance and elegance, and definitely belong in any discussion of Bolgheri’s best.

 

2007 Le Macchiole Paleo

…drop dead gorgeous wine with amazing intensity and purity of aromas…. Bright berry notes, drying mineral, exotic spice, cooling acidity and firm, satisfying structure. It’s a rich, velvety and beautiful wine…

Frescobaldi: Making Wine for 700 Years!

What’s your family been up to for the last 700 years? A hundred years before the Europeans arrived on the American continents, Berto de’ Frescobaldi planted vines on his family estate. Fast forward to the 1960s: Vittorio Frecobaldi’s vineyard specialization and expansion, including a modern winery, gave the family’s wine biz a leap into the future. In the ’90s, 1990s, that is, the Frescobaldi and Mondavi families joined together on collaborative super-Tuscan wine, Luce. Just a few weeks ago while in Miami I had the opportunity to taste their 2009 Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina at the grand opening of the Frescobaldi restaurant in South Beach, and WOW! Concentration, ripeness, sophistication, and the all important balance. A super rendition of deep and delicious Chianti from the excellent ’09 vintage. Rich and full. You’re gonna want that. 92/100 RAS.
2009 Frescobaldi Castello di
Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva

…WOW! Concentration, ripeness, sophistication, and the all important balance. A super rendition of deep and delicious Chianti from the excellent ’09 vintage. Rich and full. You’re gonna want that.

Tuscan Thriller You Have To Meet: ’08 Barco Reale, 92 WS.

2008 Capezzana Barco Reale di CarmignanoThis would be super Tuscan except for the bargain price, Barco Reale is a beautiful sangiovese/cab from one of the oldest estates in Carmignano. Capezzana has been making wine and olive oil since at least 800 A.D. You could say the Medici’s slept here but actually it was their relatives who owned it. And not so long ago Sara de Rothschild owned it. Fascinating? Maybe, but taste what the Contini Bonacossi make today, elegant and earthy, and just gorgeous. Cherries, anise and spice wrapped together in a plush purple robe. Not heavy but soft and voluptuous. This will make you want to fix your finest pasta. Night after night and at this price. Capezzana’s Barco Reale is going to be on your house wine list. Run-n-tell that.

2008 Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano

“A wine of finesse and elegance. Cherry, licorice and spice flavors, with a saline element, combine seamlessly with the medium-bodied frame and firm structure. The savory note continues on the lingering finish….”  92 Points, Wine Spectator

Magnificent ’07s: Tignanello, Mondavi Reserve, Zapata, 95 points and up

The 2007 vintage was one of the those rare years that produced great wines around the world. Couldn’t have been the same weather in Napa, Tuscany and Mendoza yet somehow in each region their legendary reds reached extraordinary heights. The wine gods were in three places at once and you should be too. In Argentina, Nicolas Catena’s Zapata, the top Cab cuvee masterminded by Laura Catena, is so sumptuous, full and elegant, Parker scored it 98 points. The Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napawas outstanding, the best since 2002, and one of the great vintages for the wine; Parker says it’s 95+ and when we poured it at our
tastings, you agreed. Of course Antinori’s Tignanello is always lush, but the 2007 is especially luxurious, rich and silky and truly super. Every one of these is a great wine at the top of its form. At these prices, one of each should be in your cellar. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

“…revealing notes of spring flowers, toasty oak, creme de cassis, licorice, and graphite.”  95 Points, Robert Parker, WA

2007 Nicolas Catena Zapata2007 Nicolas Catena Zapata, Mendoza

“It delivers an enthralling aromatic array of pain grille, pencil lead, mineral, espresso, mocha, incense, lavender, black currant, black cherry, and blackberry.”  98 Points, Robert Parker, WA

2007 Antinori Tignanello, Tuscany2007 Antinori Tignanello, Tuscany

“Displays sweet plum and berry aromas and flavors, with hints of toasty oak and cappuccino. Full-bodied, yet reserved and fine.”  95 Points, Robert Parker, WA

Everyone Loves Viticcio: Top 100 Chianti (93WS)

2007 Viticcio Chianti RiservaAmong our Italian wines, Viticcio is a house favorite all down the line, from the easy going Bere to the super Tuscan Cab. The Landini family’s best efforts are in the more traditional Chianti Classico Riserva, still the heart of the region’s heritage. Theirs is very smooth classico, bright red fruits with those signature earthy hints of licorice, tobacco, and coffee. There’s also an innovative touch of Merlot you taste only in the texture. Lovely stuff. Wine Spectator has put it in the Top100 two years in a row! Number 40 this year. Parker’s Wine Advocate called it “joyous.” You’re gonna want that.

2007 Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva

“Subtle currant, cedar and floral aromas follow through to a dense, full-bodied palate of ripe fruits and silky tannins, with a long finish. A little age will soften this just slightly. Really serious. Best after 2010.”  93 Points, Wine Spectator

Cepparello is the Haut-Brion of Tuscany. “07 is the best yet” (96WA)

Paolo de Marchi of Isole & OlenaPaulo d’Marchi wows me every year with what he brings out of Cepparello, the best vineyard at Isole e Olena. The Sangiovese from there is always silky and elegant, with the distinctive rose and licorice nose, sweet fruit balanced by bright acidity. Who needs Brunello? These three vintages have been strong and luscious, with the wonderfully ripe 2007 “utterly thrilling” to quote the Wine Advocate. Agreed, I think it’s the best yet. To share my Cepparello bounty, I’ve cut prices deeply in this exclusive for Italian collectors. Get all three and you can measure vintage against vintage from the same great vineyard, always 92 points or more. Educational… and spectacularly delicious too. You’re gonna want that.

2005 Isole e Olena Cepparello (Tuscany)

“The estate’s top bottling, the 2005 Cepparello, is another strong effort. Classy and elegant, it possesses well-delineated vibrant dark red fruit intermingled with toasted oak and minerals. It remains quite fresh and will require a few years of bottle age to develop its full range of aromas and flavors…”  92 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Isole e Olena Cepparello2006 Isole e Olena Cepparello (Tuscany)

“Light, deep red. Knockout nose of floral red berries, red cherry syrup, coffee and minerals. Then suave, silky and plump, with harmonious acidity giving life and definition to the raspberry, plum and delicate licorice flavors. Features wonderful sweetness and pliancy, and finishes subtle and sophisticated, with a light coffee note…”  95 Points, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellars

2007 Isole e Olena Cepparello (Tuscany)

“…The ripe red fruit floats on a core of refined, silky tannins that caress the palate with exceptional elegance and finesse… The ripeness of the vintage is beautifully balanced by the acidity that is the trademark of Sangiovese grown in these hillside plots. Simply put, this is an utterly thrilling wine that will be a joy to follow over the coming years…”  96 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

Bargain Semi-Blu Brancaia: Save Big on ’08 Tre (90WA)

brancaia-tre-lEvery time we have an Italian tasting there’s a crowd around the Brancaias, for the blockbuster Blu and its little brother Tre. Very smart. Brancaia is one of the smartest contemporary outfits in Tuscany, old vineyards and clever new owners from Switzerland. Tre is their entry level, usually $20, (but not for you, not now) and it’s a delicious entry. I’m tempted to call it super Chianti because Brancaia makes a fine Classico and in Tre, the accent remains on Sangiovese with the interloping Merlot and Cabernet only one fifth of the blend. Adds up to a lovely middleweight taste of Tuscany, plummy with an Italian edge of dried fruit and herbs. A summer red for grownups. And you couldn’t ask for a better price. You’re gonna want that.

Reporting From: VinItaly in Verona, Italy

Paolo de MarchiSo here we are, two gentlemen in Verona, surrounded by 150,000 other tasters (too many for Juliet’s balcony) and thousands of wines. Yet we already know one stand-out quite well. We’ve been fans of Cepparello, the flagship of Isole e Olena, for years and currently have compiled a vertical of three of their best, ’05, ’06 and ’07, each one better than the last. How good? The sublime 2007 rates a 96 from the big guys and Steve Rayman and I agree it’s well deserved. It’s good to see Paolo de Marchi again, his passion radiates far from his booth. He has truly put Sangiovese back in a starring role over Chianti and the Cab-crazy super Tuscans. You really should plan your own vertical tasting with a bottle from each vintage. You’re gonna want that.

Fall Uncontrollably in Love with Italy: Antinori’s 2007 Guado al Tasso

2007 Antinori Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri

2007 Antinori Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri

The old village of Bolgheri is on the wild side of Tuscany beyond Florence, beyond Chianti. Many tourists miss it; true wine lovers don’t. If you can’t go, you can taste it in a glass of Guado al Tasso. Here in a big natural amphitheatre between the hills and the sea, the Antinoris found an El Dorado, a special home for the creation of grand super-Tuscans (and exceptional whites of Vermentino as well). I am drawn to Guado al Tasso Bolgheri, which has posted remarkable scores in recent years. Great stuff in 2006 of course, and even better in 2007, a 94 from the Wine Advocate. This is a lush blend of Cabernet Sauvgnon, Merlot and Cab Franc, ripe blackberries with a breezy hint of mint. You can drink now, but a few years patience will be pay off in spades. Guado al Tasso is an exciting and affordabre alternative to nearby Sassicaia or Antinori’s own Solaia and Tignanello at normal B-21 prices. You’re gonna want that.

2006 Chianti at its Best: Antinori’s Finest 92 Points

Chianti

Chianti

The 2006 vintage in Tuscany was one of the best ever especially in the heart of Chianti, “extraordinary” in Parker’s tasting. A vintage so good it shows off in every price point, especially in the hands of the wineries we like. The hits just keep coming (Antinori’s Marchese is finally out). The first ’06 Chiantis we got were such a hit we’re almost out but some jewels are left like Monastero, 91 points and should have made someone’s Top 100. I’ve also marked down the Fonterutoli (90 WS) and the Selvapiano (93 ST) substantially to get them in your cellar and out of ours, arrivederci. And hello to the Marchese, just released by Antinori and a real beauty. If you care about Chianti, you’re gonna want that. Your cellar will want all of them.