Italian Reds

Castello di Farnetella Chianti 2004 - Another wine from the Pine Orchard affordable series, this gem lists for $12.99 per bottle.  Itís a Colli Senesi from Nelle Cantine Di Castelnuovo Berardenga in Italy. Its importer is Bacchus Importers 1817 Portal Street Baltimore, MD 21224.  Itís another ready to drink now, red wine.  I found this to be less fruity than many Chiantiís and more complex with earthy tones.  Iíll give it two and a half stars out of four.  WinoWally  April 5, 2007

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano díAbbruzzo $ (16.99)     Nice balance with jammy raspberry flavors and a structured acidity, but somewhat one-dimensional.  

1999 Castello Banfi Summus $$$ (65.00)    This one starts out hot and needs time to unveil the culture and charms of its fruits.  A black fruit, cassis serving with a touch of caramel on the finish.  

1997 Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC $$$ (59.99) Not for the shy red wine drinker as the raisining process of this Italian intensifies the flavors, alcohol and power.  Recommended with big, bold gravies and plum tomato sauces as the plum, and dark fruits provide a mouthful of chewy wine.  

2002 TREBBIANO di ROMAGNA La Terra Fina Chianti $ (gift)   Comprised of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo Nero and 10% mix of Trebbiano and Malvasia brings with it all process and very little fruit.  An acidic, abrupt example of Chianti, they may want to sell this one with a straw basket around it.  

2000 Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino Do Ut Des $$ (33.95 or 95.00 at Bacchus)   This is one wine that should sleep with the fishes.  Disappointing to the palate after such a promise on the pour.  Little fruit, and less anything else.  Save your money even at retail.  

2000 Castillo de Varranzzano Chianti Classico $ (14.99)      The finding of the strait was more exciting then the fruit and finish of this wine.  Again I was tricked my some writer publishing a tag that called this a great find and the best value wine of the month.  Itís OK, but not one I would buy again.

2000 Villa Puccini Chianti Superiore $ (8.99)   This wine carries little excitement, minimal fruit and a sharp finish.  

2000 Monte Antico $ (8.99)       This 2000 is light on the fruit and big on the acidity.  I enjoyed this one the first time I had the 99, but this one doesnít deliver .

1999 Castello Banfi's Cum Laude $$$ (57.00 restaurant)  - Latin for "with honorsĒ, this wine is a blend of 25% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 15% Syrah.   A delicious combination of juicy berries and spicy cherries, with clove, anise and black pepper.  This one would taste great with a nice chicken parm with sharp Romano cheese.  

2001 Farnese Montepulciano DíAbruzzo DOGC $ (5.99)   Yes, winos and winettes, at under six dollars, buy this and drink it any night, with pizza or spaghetti and meatballs.  It does start out hot and needs time to settle down, but the wine that evolves is a fun, easy drinker.  

1998 Travaglini Gattinara $$ (25.50)     This wine comes out hot and needs a great deal of coaxing and coddling to have its personality step out from behind the curtain.

1995 Barbaresco Rabaja Giusseppe Cortese $$$ (65.00 rest)    From the first sip, this Nebbiolo from Piedmonte greets you with a mouthful of ripe bing cherries and doesnít give up much.  Nice acidic snap that stands up to a flavorful red sauce.  

2000 Monte Antico Toscano $ (9.99)     For Sangiovese lovers, this wine is a must for those who like an everyday drinking wine.  Danny DeVito, as appeared in the WS article, could dunk all the Italian bread he wants in this wine without offending the host.  A good compliment to your basic spaghetti and meatballs or chicken parm.

1999 Il Poggione San Leopoldo $$$ (34.00)   I did this wine a disservice by consuming it too young.  Like a mother croc eating her offspring, this wine is brash and acidic right now, but wait another 2 years and this will be a wine to remember.

1997 Frescobaldi Pomino Rosso $$ (28.00)    When you want a wine that will handle the acidity of your auntís homemade Red Pasta Sauce, this wine family has been making them since 1300AD. A Sangiovese-dominant mix having a medium body, light ruby color with raspberry, cherry and vanilla flavors, brash tannins and acidity to drown your back teeth.

1997 Castello Banfi Excelsus $$$ (74.99)    Let sleeping dogs lay, this one needs time to develop and blossom into the richness of the blending between the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  As the tannins soften, they release a flavorful plum and black currant with a hint of pepper and spice.

1996 Villa Il Poggiolo Carmignane Reserva ? (gift)   This bottle of wine from the small DOC 10 miles west of Florence is a Sangiovese, muted superbly with a small per cent of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The fruit was roaring and the tannins have mellowed making this a splendid accompaniment to my Rigatoni Rosario.

1997 Modus Toscana Tenimenti Ruffino $ (12.99)   A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  The fruit on this wine took an early backseat to the wood.  Over several glasses it softened and brought out a pleasant dark cherry, red fruit and blueberry hint.  

2000 Feudo Monaci Salice Salentino Rosso $ (&.99)    This blend of 80% Neroamana and 20% Malvasia Nera brings a nice balance of red fruit, tobacco, leather and soft tannins.  Pleasant, with Ronzoni boxed pasta and Aunt Millieís Organic Sauce from a jar.  This could be an everyday table wine as a warm up for a meal.  

1999 Petrolo Terre di Galatrona $ (9.99)   This 70% Sangiovese and 30% Merlot is the perfect pizza wine.  A fruit forward beverage packed with dark cherry, raspberry, chocolate and a soft smooth finish.  A friend to red sauces for pasta to parmigiana.  

1999 Struzziero Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio $ (7.99)    Blame it on tears, blame it on the ashes from the last eruption of Vesuvio, but this wine had little to offer regarding fruit, flavor or body.  They should look into fermenting Gatorade.  

1999 Gaja Promis $$$ (54.00 rest.)  This Tuscan, comprised of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, did little to excite the senses.  A nose of wood, cassis, smoke and berries filled the glass but the weight was thin and the finish was missing.  I just cannot see this standing up to a nice red sauce.  I was left feeling like I got sucked in by the name of the producer and it hurt twice as much at the restaurant mark up.  

1999 Pratesti Locorosso $ (13.99)   This 100% Sangiovese (which means Blood of Jove) is an intense ruby red with black cherry, tobacco and a lot more leather then I care.  At times, the wine simply smells like a wet saddle (you do the math).  This wine also carries a quick finish and a bit more tannin then desirable.  
1999 Monte Antico Toscano
$ (8.99)    This Piedmont is fresh with red rasberry and light cherry flavors and has a sexiness to it that makes it drinkable by itself or with a nice dish.

2000 Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto DíAlba $ (9.99)   Light, and fruity, this wine goes well with red sauce pasta dishes, but would not stand up to bolder Italian food.  You may want to give this a go with pizza, but hold the pepperoni.  

1998 Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romagna Reserva $ (11.99)   This 85% sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon has a bright, ruby red color with rich raspberry and cherry fruit and slight tannins.  A good, easy-drinking wine for snacks of Italian cheeses and salamis.

1995 Castello Banfi Summus $$$ (58.00)   One of my favorites, that awoke from a three year sleep in my cellar.  This blend of Brunello di Montalcino/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah delivers character from start to finish.  A classy representation of why blended wines need to be at the top of your list.  The interaction of the cepages brings fruits ranging from lighter raspberries to black cherry and the texture and finish of a quality wine.  Length, softness and mature fruit impress the palette.

1995 Luce $$$ (55.00)   A blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Sangiovese, this Super Tuscan is brimming with blueberry and blackberry flavors, smooth and elegant on the palette and bolstered with vanilla and clover undertones.  A wine that delivers.

1993 Castelli del Grevepesa Gualdo al Luco $$ (28.00)   A pleasant find amongst the Super Tuscans at a great price.  Aging has served this wine well with the tannins dulled, the color bricked and the fruit having the authority to develop.  Mature black fruit and a spice flavor makes this quite enjoyable, though the finish does not hold up to other Super Tuscans.  

1997  Tignanello - The '97 is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  This baby was a full-bodied, tannin-laden mensch.  If Wino Bob doesn't seek a bottle of this berry fruit, toasty oak, chewy, luscious wine for his BIG RED collection, he's missing one.  WinoWally

1998 Morellino Di Scansano Barbi $ (19.99)   This Tuscan Sangiovese lacks the finish and fruitiness to grab your attention.  The sweet sauce on my fried calamari stepped on this wine so it will not hold up well with pasta sauces high in acidity.  

1998 Castello Banfi Centine $ (11.00)    From the winery that brings us the big, bold red wine, Summus, this is a lighter, fruitier wine that is well balanced and refreshing.  Comprised of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, this wine is a good companion to pastas and grilled meats.  

1998 Terrale Sangiovese $ (5.99)    A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20%Primitivo, this wine starts out harsh and acidic.  As the wine opens, there is a good fruit balance of black cherry and plum that plays in your mouth.  The disappointment in this wine is the shortness and thinness you experience after swallowing this berry drink.  The Primitivo adds a dimension to the lighter Sangiovese, but all is lost in the lack of length to this wine.  But for fewer than six dollars, not a bad buy.  

1981 Adesso Tenuta Zerbina Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore ? (Gift)    The color on this wine was a fine brown from the years it rested, the nose gave a faint red fruit aroma, mild, with not much of a bouquet.  The fruit was fading and the weight was thin and watery.  This wine had passed its peak and is resting on the shade slope.  

1997 Luce $$$(95.00 rest.)  Robert Mondavi forms great business partnerships and Luce is a result of one.  A Super Tuscan comprised of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot, this wine delivered an impressive long berry and currant flavored wine.  Soft and velvety, this wine drank well from start to finish.  A treat for any fine Italian food experience.  

1997Castello Banfi SummuS $$$ (96.00 rest)    WOW- This purplish, inky wine is a powerhouse, the blending of 45% Brunello di Montalcino, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah.  This is an experience every Big Red Wine Lover needs to have once in your life. Luscious, dark fruit flavors, full-bodied and balanced tannins, make this wine invade your palate and keep you asking for more.  The cepages of this blend bring structure, elegance, and complexity that will make you take a loan out to buy a case.  A truly enjoyable sensory experience.  

1996 Travaglini Gattinara $$ (30.00)   Tannins so present, your tongue dries before you swallow.  This wine needs a lot of time to oxidize.  The zesty acids and high tannins make the fruit hard to find.  Dark ruby, spicy and a minimum amount of dark cherry and plum come around finally. 

1997 Caíntele Salice Salentino Riserva $ (12.00 restaurant price) Owner/Chef Nino at Ninoís in Paterson found a great inexpensive wine to compliment his beautifully prepared Italian fare.  The acid-fruit balance supported the Capellini seafood in Pink Sauce.  This is a wine for the table, to drink with friends, enjoy mozzarella and roasted peppers, and play a game of cards on checked tablecloths.  Smooth, fruity, and a bargain at retail pricing fewer than ten dollars.  

1996 Vigna Majang Barbara DíAlba $$ (28.00 Restaurant)   I try to think of the aroma wheel when I try new wines, but the only thing that came to mind when I smelled this wine was the odor of a muddy field as the sun begins to heat the standing water.  That and blue cheese.  Neither appear as descriptive terms.  As the wine opened, a berry fruit flavor came through, but it was a short finish and drying tannins.   

1997 Coppo Barbera DíAsti Camp du Rouss $ 14.99    This wine gives a lot of alcohol and little fruit in the nose.  High acid and a harsh after taste greet you with the first taste.  The acid mellows to reveal a mild fruit flavor.  Not very much to describe.  Buy this one for pizza with people with whom you are only casually acquainted.  

1997 Tommasi Rafael Valpolicella Classico Superiore $ (11.00) This Veneto wine is made up of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara and has a mineral nose and a mildly fruity flavor.  This is an easy drinking wine with no distinguishing characteristics.  As a middle child to the light fruity Valpolicella Classico and the powerful, captivating Reicioto Della Valpolicella, this wine suffers from middle child syndrome.


1993 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Toscana $$$ (58.00)  As age in a bottle mellows a wine, this one poured a brownstone red, thin in appearance with a berry nose and brown spice.  This wine is made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.  The taste here was a full-bodied fruit-packed wine with cherries galore.  Mild tannins left me thinking this one could have slept in the cellar for 5 more years.  A hint of cassis on the lengthy finish gave this structure.  

1997 Antinori Tignenello $$$ (65.00) This full-bodied wine is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc with intense fruit and solid structure.  This blending gives great depth to this wine.  The fruit here is still cloaked in the tannins so if you buy this, rest it for several years.  To drink today, decant and let breathe so the fruit will move forward.  

1996 Villa Artimino Barco Reale Di Carmignano  $?   Composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, this wine starts out wrapped in tannins.  It takes a while for this to settle down in the glass to let the fruit come out.  Artimino has been making wine since 1594 on this estate located just outside Florence, Italy.  In 1718, Artimino was awarded the first designation of appellation-controlled wine.  In 1975 it became recognized with the classification DOC and in 1988 it received the highest rating, DOCG.  

1998 Giovanni Viberti Barolo ?$  (It was served at a friendís house)    Barolo wines are the big, bold Nebbiolos that fetch top dollars next to the Super Tuscans; yet this wine took a long time to develop.  Faint at heart with not much of an exciting finish left this wine disappointing to me.

1993 Tenuta dell Ornellaia Bolgheri Ornellaia $$ (50.00)   This region of Tuscany (Bolgheri) produces the super Tuscan wines that provide Italy with world-class recognition.  These are the Bordeaux style wines of Italy.  I must confess that the rich color of this wine left me disappointed when I swirled and sniffed.  There was not much of a heady fruit smell from the decanter or the glass.  The taste was a delicious plum-fruit and mild tannins gave this a solid structure.  

Tommasi Amorone 1975
This bottle had been stored for a while in my "cellar".   I believe I purchased it from Phillips Fine Wines about 7-8 years ago with a price of $42.00. If only you could touch this price now. In any case, the cork was still in perfect condition (wet only about 1/3 of the way).  The wine was allowed to breathe decanted for about one hour prior to consumption. Initial nose was a little musty but this quickly blew off. Although some of the fruit was gone from this bottle, it certainly retained fantastic character with a smooth mouth feel and "syrupy texture". As usual with a big red, as time went by, the flavor continued to develop and, sorry to say,  this bottle went all too quickly. Fortunately, I still have two or three more of these beauties to consume. This wine was paired with a pasta dish that had plenty of cheese and gravy for the start of a fantastic meal. WinoHondo

Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale (Tan Label) 1995 - Ya gotta have Chianti with pasta.  This one's spicy and slightly acidic with cedar and mineral character.  Holds up to a zesty tomato sauce.  Let it breathe for 15-30 minutes.  Buy it by the case at $14.99.  88 points.



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