This is an archive of tasting notes from participants in the UK wine forum, with notes from before 2005

UK Wine Forum - Italy part I

This is an archive of older notes. Click here for most recent Italian notes.

11/01 Colonnara Marche Tornamagno IGT 1997
Dark purple colour. Nice Sangiovese nose of cherry, fresh meat and paint, with some minerals on the medium long finish. Also ash and fresh cork rind. Juicy, not tremendously complex, but very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Vallerosa-Bonci Rosso Piceno Viatorre 1999
Medium ruby colour which is not too luminous. Strange nose of tar, strawberries, cloves, with barnyardy notes coming up; a profile of a semi-sweet Hungarian red. The palate is simple and juicy, with no tannins, clearly made for early consumption. Perhaps too soft to be really exciting. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Vallerosa-Bonci Rosso Piceno Casa Nostra 1999
Slightly darker ruby / purple. Nose of fresh almonds, dried roses and some slate. Consistent on the palate, not too powerful, in the typical soft style of Rosso Piceno; notes of kirsch and cherry juice, some bitterness as well. High acidity. Very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Brunori Lacrima di Morro d'Alba 2000
Beautiful violet colour. Nose of lilies, sweet black fruit, some tar and violets; moderately pungent, with a liquorice note coming up. Very fresh in mouth, mostly due to lively, strawberry-like acids, and with the black fruit covered by an amount of dustiness. Thick matter, but slightly hollow or one-dimensional perhaps. Masculine style of Lacrima, with a good structure and plenty of jammy fruit. Mind the high acids here, but overall a very pleasant wine in a positively Piedmontese register. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Brunori Rosso Piceno 2000
Medium blackberry colour. Fruity and stemmy on the nose, with some bacon and smoke, not too open or assertive. Palate has blackberry jam and cherry spirit; the wine is soft, but eminently fruity and pure. Very good. A bargain at 6,500 lire / $3. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Brunori Rosso Conero 1999
Not too dark purple colour which seems a bit tired. Nose of fruit marmalade and a minor touch of oak fat, with fresh almonds as well. Good structure, acid and depth, lots of amarena cherry flavours. Quite refined, with excellent definition. It is quite amazing that people would sell wine like this in bulk, as it is amazing that Brunori managed to find raw material of such class. Excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Umani-Ronchi Rosso Conero Serrano 2000
Medium purple. Tar, paint, old wood on the airy nose. Light-bodied and not too opulent, with mineral notes and strong acids. Good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Umani-Ronchi Rosso Conero San Lorenzo 1998
Medium to light ruby-purple. Dirty, but quite nice nose with strawberry and almond notes. Sweet red fruit in mouth, especially on finish, with some tannins and a mineral streak. Slightly lacking body IMO, but very good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Umani-Ronchi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Jorio 1999
Lighter, more luminescent purple. Deeper and more elegant nose than the previous wine, with paint, some raw meat, blackberry, while on the palate it is deeper, softer and slightly fattier at the same time. Some paint from the oak here, quite long. Has personality. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Umani-Ronchi Rosso Conero Cúmaro 1998
The top cuvée of Rosso Conero, made from 100% Montepulciano from the San Lorenzo vineyard. 12 months in new, second- and third-passage barrique, bottled May 2000. 35,000 bottles made. Medium dark purple. Nose is thick and inky with some oak apparent, plus pungent fruit jam and some lighter strawberry fruit, followed by minor marzipan with time in the glass. Rather closed on the nose, I thought. The red fruit on the palate is juicy and light-bodied, with watery, lean character and decent acidity; slightly disjointed oaky finish. Lots of dirt appear with time, together with juicy cherry fruit, rose hips, some strawberry and vegetable broth; seems to lose some body while gaining perhaps a bit of definition. Patently too young to please a sophisticated palate today; overall a wine which impresses, but does not convinces. Well-made and desperately lacking the focus, freshness and personality of the cheaper wines. But I would need to revisit this to be really sure. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Umani-Ronchi Lacrima di Morro d'Alba Fonte del Re 2000
Violet-garnet colour. Very intense nose of flowers, cow shit, lots of woman's perfume, Indian spices, cinnamon, orange peel, incense, intoxicating and almost overwhelming. No body to speak of on the palate, no tannins either, good acidity but a bit neutral here. But excellent for the nose alone; the most exuberant Lacrima from the few I've tasted. Another purchased wine which impresses me. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Marina Cvetiè 1999
Very closed on the nose, with some notes of kirsch, dust and cow milk. Quite long and structured on palate. Needs time. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma 1998
Nose starts rather lactic, but is evidently deeper and more elegant than the Marina Cvetiè Montepulciano. Mixed spices and lavender notes, plus a strong vegetal side. Very perfumed sample. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Masciarelli Montepulciano 2000
Very young and closed but already a bit Pinot-like in its perfume, with strawberry juice and red fruit ice-cream on the palate. Good acids and soft tannins. Nice. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Masciarelli Montepulciano 2000
Much thicker and jammier in its profile, with a powerful note of almonds and some strawberry. More masculine on the palate, with huge structure and quite imposing tannins. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Masciarelli Montepulciano 2000
Very typical nose here, stinky and animal, with a juicy and structured palate; some bell pepper flavours, slightly rough finish. Very traditional in style, and excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 di Forano Rosso Piceno 2000
Medium cherry-purple, with a very dark core. Lots of oak on the nose, together with grilled beef, cherry milkshake, some butter-fried mushrooms and dust, and finally some cherry liqueur. Juicy, quite compact in mouth, although it thins out on the finish. Some acidity and low to medium tannins; quite dense and enjoyable, if too milky at this stage. 8,000 lire / $4. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 di Forano Rosso Piceno Bulciano 1998
Very dark core. Much more inky and soupy than the above, with dried currant, raw and grilled game, macerated cherries on a very dense, but closed nose. Palate is very round, sweet, compact and thick with cherry flavours mainly. Very pleasant, not imposing in structure, really very well-tailored, although perhaps a tad overdone. 15,000 lire / $7. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 di Forano Rosso Piceno Bulciano 1999
Same colour with perhaps a fresher hue. Very different nose, spicy, quite balsamic and marked by the wood yet, including a sandalwood and paint note, all this on a relatively fresh cherry coulis background. Palate has excellent juiciness and consistency, with red fruit and round, soft tannins on the finish. Very pure, excellent wine. Will be stunning. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Azienda Agricola Malacari Rosso Conero 1999
Dark purple colour with a violet rim. Beautiful nose with hints of griotte, balsamic wood, musk and lots of wild, animal aromas, but with a sense of ripe fruitiness that's difficult to beat. If left in the glass, this develops quite an impressive complexity with notes of violets, cow shit, freshly baked bread, marble ash and lots of brett, overall in a rather traditional Montepulciano register. On the palate it is quite chewy, with lots of mineral notes and seemingly a bit disjointed, or badly needing food for balance. But again airing time seems to smooth this out. revealing a wine of medium body, excellent acidity and low tannins, not too complex perhaps, but eminently drinkable; flavours are principally fresh paint, griotte and fresh black cherry. A masculine wine with lots of class. Great value. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Malacari Rosso Conero Grigiano 1998
Very dark purple, with an opaque core and insignificant rim. The first impression is of sweet cherry fruit covered by a slight glassiness. It develops into a wine much more elegant, fruit-focused, while also sweeter and slightly oakier than the completely oak-free normale. Despite some meatiness this Rosso Conero is extremely refined, deep and complex, with notes of wet marble, cloves, anise, red flowers, milky oak, so intense it almost seems artificial, or perhaps in need of aeration. The overall impression is of softness and accessibility despite the thick matter. Quite integrated and not too heavy on the palate, with a dusty, very long finish which seems just a bit heady at the moment. A safely outstanding wine that bears comparison with the region's very best. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Garbí IGT 2000
Very fresh and still quite yeasty, with crisp and hints of dirtiness. On the palate it is astonishingly mineral and stoney, with notes of lemon peel and parsley. A nice basic white. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Rosso Piceno 1998
Lots of sausage and macerated cherry notes on the nose, quite salty, though without the brothy notes I frequently dislike in sturdy reds. Some dust and dried cherries intervene with time. Strange type of texture on the palate, lacking a bit of focus but displaying reasonably juicy cherry fruit and a positively citric acidity. Opens up in the glass. Not bad. This comes from vineyards only 40 to 70 meters above sea level. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Villamagna Rosso Piceno 1998
The colour is again a luminous, not too dark ruby. Nose is very thick and meaty, with some tar again that salty impression of local sausage, almost fishy / calamary, but in a good sense. The palate marries freshness and bitterness and shows a minor note of radicchio and old wood. Very juicy and fruity, with excellent persistence and an almost petrolly texture. Quite good at 15,000 lire / $7, with 10,000 bottles made. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Il Girone IGT 1996
Medium ruby with strawberry hues, a natural Pinot colour, I thought. Intense nose of fruitcake and some minestrone, followed by old wood, but overall supremely perfumed and elegant indeed; grabs your attention instantly. The palate is just a tad hot from the 13.5% alcohol, with a minor touch of hollowness at mid-palate, but otherwise very nice and sweetly fruity, with good structure and depth. Good integration. Spotless winemaking here. Superb wine. Among the two or three best Italian Pinots I've tasted to date. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Saltapicchio IGT 1997
Transparent medium ruby. Nose starts very meaty and animal, later to develop into sweet cherry, orange flower, mixed spice, a touch of fried squid and espresso and a whiff of forno a legna-like bread crust. Quite strange, but inviting nose. On the palate it is similarly complex, evolving into a dried cherry profile. Juicy, slightly austere and lead-pencilly, but very good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Pix IGT 1998
Medium purple with a blood red rim. Very soupy nose with dense notes of fruit gelée, marble ash, blueberry ice-cream, some brett and rubber, lead pencil, but mainly highly ripe fruit. Excellent consistency on the palate; flavours of strawberry and cassis, thinning out a bit on the finish, which is hugely tannic. Coffee-like intensity here. Good acidity and impressive ripeness. Safely excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Boccadigabbia Akronte IGT 1997
The colour is very honest, not darker than a moderately dark ruby, with a light rim. Nose shows some stems and cow shit; extremely dense and meaty, with hints of lead pencil, liquorice, anise and a minor touch of bell pepper. In mouth it is simply superb, with sweet, concentrated fruit and a discreet oak support. Long, fruity-juicy, acidic finish. Still somehow rounded by the oak, but certainly great. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barbera d'Alba 2000
Beautiful medium ruby in the glass. Nose of fresh strawberry, tar, very mineral, in fact like licking siliceous rock. Very pure, juicy and focused fresh fruit on the palate, with a minor spiciness. A beauty. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Dolcetto d'Alba 2000
From Ravera. Bottled on the same day as the Barbera. Rinaldi calls this a 'Dolcetto di Barolo' since it is grown in a Nebbiolo vineyard and the very terroir-sensible Dolcetto picks up many characteristic of its elder brother. Medium purple colour with some violet. Wonderful nose of Havana cigar, strawberry, some game meat. On the palate the wine is light-bodied, with some candy and tar, so pure yet refined and so opaque to the analysing mind it almost seems to vanish. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Langhe Freisa 2000
This is a 'Freisa secca di Barolo', says Rinaldi, to differentiate it from the original Freisa from Chieri, which is more fragile and thus tends to be vinified with a bit of residual sugar and sometimes a bit of fizz. This one glows with luminous light ruby in the glass. Nose is pungent and vegetal, with strawberry and fresh almonds; the wine continues with almondy flavours on the palate, before ending with a bit of tannins on the very dry finish. Perhaps less focused, less immediate than Rinaldi's other wines, although a powerful personality compared to other Freisas. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Langhe Nebbiolo 1999
Light, uniform ruby. Very cool and fleshy nose dominated by strawberries, with some orange peel notes. Pure and uncomplicated on the palate, very drinkable, not an intellectual wine. The finish brings strong Nebbiolo character in a touch of bitterness. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate - Coste 1998
9,000 bottles made, bottled a week before. Medium ruby-violet. Nose is a défilé of strange scents: sardine, strawberry, cow shit, icing sugar, bread crust, gingerbread. On the palate there is an amazing purity of strawberry fruit, the wine seems initially quite accessible, but on the finish there are enormously powerful, mouth-puckering tannins. A wine impossible to analyse, completely opaque to the mind. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Cannubi San Lorenzo - Ravera 1998
As mentioned, a 60%-40% blend of these two plots. Colour is similar, but the wine is very different from the Brunate - Le Coste: much darker in its profile, with lots of balsamic wood, perfumed Chinese mushrooms, mixed spices and medicinal aromas. On the palate also much more intense and full-flavoured, with old wood and mushrooms and a very consistent evolution, but again with this feeling of evasion, disappearance, stealth. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate - Le Coste 1990
From magnum. Very youthful medium ruby colour with perhaps just a bit of a rim. Refined, featherlight nose of cool strawberry and some freshly picked blueberries, with a bit of rubber funk at first and some old wood as well. Very fresh, if blocky and thick on mouth, with a bit of damp-cellary opaque character, as if closed from bottle-sickness. Drying tannins on the finish. Again, the most ephimerous, shape-changing wine one can imagine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate 1978
Light ruby, very young colour, though the rim is perhaps larger than in the 1990. The wine smells of coffee and leather, with quite an animal profile, and seems slightly off. It refuses to charm also on the palate, with lots of minerality, dusty, metallic, cellary character over sour cherry fruit. Very long finish. A kind of gut wine which takes you by the throat. Is it off, or just eminently Rinaldi-like? He smiles and says: 'I've been said it is over the hill, what do you think?'. I did not know what to answer. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giuseppe Rinaldi Ruché 2000
'This wine I make for fun', he says, adding that it ages very well. From an almost extinct traditional Piedmontese variety, it has a dark ruby colour and a very tarry smell, like a Dolcetto taken two gears up. On the palate is rather thin, with some rose petal flavours and good intensity on finish. Another evasive wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Dolcetto d'Alba 2000
Typically tarry on the very pure nose, with great definition despite minor fishy funk, the wine is very juicy and light-bodied on the palate, perhaps a tad watery, but a very good basic Dolcetto nonetheless. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Dolcetto d'Alba Coste e Fossati 2000
This wine, of which 17,000 bottles were made, is a blend of the two eponymous vineyards and is aged only in steel. Aldo explains that Coste di Vergne gives wine high in alcohol and 'warm', while Fossati, with its south-eastern exposure and mixed sand and argillaceous soil, gives finer, fresher and more elegant results. He blends the two to achieve a more complete Dolcetto which according to him can age up to 10 years. Very dark core with a medium purple rim. Very intense nose with tar, strawberry, woman's perfume, some grilled bread and meat aromas; refined, sophisticated, captivating nose. Huge intensity in mouth, quite flowery, with hints of black truffle. Again superiorly juicy, though not your everyday easy Dolcetto. Long, whispering finish. Peculiar style, but one of the best Dolcettos around IMO. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Barbera d'Alba 1999
Transparent medium ruby. Excellent, very perfumed nose laden with sweet fruit, some almonds, raw beef meat, lead pencil and woman's perfume, with again a bit of sardine funk which seems to be due the fact that many of the wines we tasted were bottles two weeks prior (September's not a good time to visit wineries in Italy, but what can I do). On the palate the wine is very juicy and fruity, with minor tannins and a long, persistent dried fruit finish. Excellent simple Barbera. A serious wine with admirable focus. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Barbera d'Alba Superiore 1999
Medium ruby with a light rim. Finer, more intense and more deeply fruity than the normale, with strawberry and cherry notes, but also a slightly more mature profile, a hint of almonds and chalk dust. In mouth it is much more balsamic and showing a bit of oak fat, cow milk, red flowers and tar flavours; long, intense finish, although apparently not much longer than the normale. Brilliant stuff which might come around a bit in a year's time. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2000
Light ruby colour. Very typical, slightly herbal nose with a strong tar component, very subtle, almost ghostly also on the palate, where it lacks some body. Juicy enough, with some botte flavours and an orangey, slightly acidic finish. An OK wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 1997
Medium ruby with a minor rim, excellent Nebbiolo colour. Nose is very perfumed and very vegetal, with cinnamon, tree bark, sweet, ripe fruit of an almost Chinato-intensity of perfume, slightly animal-barnyardy as well, showing a touch of balsamic wood and, later, orange flowers. Very juicy and intense, with medium tannins and initially a considerably metallic and bitter finish. But opens up a lot in the glass with violets, orange peel and other subtle flavours. Very refined style of Barolo which nevertheless needs some time. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giovanni Domenico Vajra Langhe Freis Kyè 1999
We finished the tasting with this increasingly rare varietal wine, which to Aldo represents 'yet another facet of the diamond' of his zone's wines. Around 6,000 bottles made. Dark ruby colour. Lots of meaty steak-like aromas on the nose, plus some lead pencil. Simple, very strawberry-dominated in mouth (notably strawberry ice-cream), with some serious lead pencil flavours and a bitter finish. Good, enjoyable wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo 1999
Very intense and masculine nose of balsamic wood and dried cherry, with some raw meat. Hugely astringent in mouth, a real monster, with drying, papery tannins. Raw beef, sour and bitter cherry flavours, immense, very vegetal finish with hints of green pepper. Yet there's a mysterious, almost mystical aura of harmony to this wine, which makes the Spiegelau glass seem almost inappropriate to drink it. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo 1999
From botte n. 23 of 25 hl. Juice from Torriglione and Cannubi sotto Ciabot. Racked off lees Oct 18th 1999, put on ripasso on Cannubi lees Oct 19th-20th 1999, racked Nov 2nd 1999 and July 19th 2000, put on another ripasso on Cannubi lees on Oct 10th-12th 2000. Ruby violet colour which seems quite dark. Nose of Albese sausage, intense coffee and cocoa dust, with some macerated cherries and, quite surprisingly, bitter almonds, which I assume are the result of the ripasso. Drier and less full-blown than the previous sample on the palate, with better acids and some extremely juicy fresh cherry fruit. Finish has massive tannins but is slightly gentler than the above botte, with some cherry and roasted coffee notes, rounded off by walnut peel bitterness. These two 1999s seem quite similar in character to the 1996: very backward and massive, they will need an awful lot of time in the bottle. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto d'Alba 2000
Medium violet in colour. Very opaque nose, not giving much, apart from some tar and orange ice-cream and a bit of meatiness. Interesting profile, with a very bready, chewy palate, a bit of sweet cherry flavour, huge structure and imposing, dusty tannins. Very much like a young Barolo with extra Dolcetto flavour boost. An ager. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d'Alba 1999
This has seen some new oak as of the botti which were bought in 1999 (see above). Lighter colour than the Dolcetto, medium ruby and not too luminous. Very perfumed wine, with chalk dust, orange zest, lots of fresh fruits, as well as some milk and public toilet stink. Very acidic and dusty on the palate, especially on finish. No trace of wood here. This is as close to an oaked wine as Bartolo will ever get. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo 1997
Medium to light ruby, no rim. Very strange nose, quite stemmy, with fresh sour cherry and some strawberry jam. Very accessible and open on the palate, with flavours of chalk, lots of orange, some balsamic wood and surprisingly good acidity for a 1997. Medium tannins, very long and persistent, with a fresh and macerated cherry finish. Excellent wine, and drinking very well now. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo 1998
Maria-Teresa was reluctant to let me taste this, as it was bottled three weeks prior, but I insisted and she finally gave in. Medium ruby colour, with a large rim. Nose of Chinese spices and dust, more intense and profound than the 1997. Palate is very juicy, perhaps a bit cooked in its character, quite consistent and very long, but the tannins strike back on the extremely chewy, metallic finish. Needs a lot of time. It seems a good idea to start drinking the 1985 and 1986 now, as Gianni Masciarelli told me he does, or focus on the 1997 until this, the 1998, 1996 and 1999 mature - although it will take at least 15 years IMO. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Dolcetto d'Alba San Lorenzo 2000
Aged in steel, 7,000 bottles made. Medium to dark purple and violet. Nose of kirsch and lots of fresh cherry, slightly musty perhaps. Quite tannic on the palate, with lots of paint and tar, and a bitter finish. Very typical Dolcetto. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Dolcetto d'Alba Fossati 2000
Aged in steel, 7,000 bottles made. Darker purple. Muskier and earthier nose, but certainly more elegant than the S. Lorenzo. More intense also on the palate, with fresh amarena cherries and a thicker texture. Some tannins, long. Very well-focused really, excellent Dolcetto. Enzo says Fossati is their vineyard of choice for Dolcetto, giving 'finer, less aggressive and readier wines'. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Freisa Santa Rosalia 2000
Aged in steel. Same colour as the Fossati. Softer and lighter on the nose than Dolcetto, but very earthy. Higher acidity here, especially on finish, some almond flavours coming up. Slightly vague but pleasant. Enzo says they aim at making a Freisa 'of great body' which can age 4-5 years. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barbera d'Alba Cannubi 1999
12 months of botte, 8,200 bottles made. Dark ruby with a watery rim. Quite light and evanescent nose with rubber and almond flavours, feminine in style, with some flowery notes becoming quite evident with time. Very good juiciness, quite balsamic texture, with flavours of small berries and a long, persistent finish. Strangely scented, but very flavourful. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barbera d'Alba Cannubi Muscatel 1999
From 50-year-old vines in a selected part of Cannubi, where Moscato grapes used to be grown (hence the name). 12 months of 30-hl botte, 7,000 bottles made. Medium transparent ruby. Very interesting, highly pungent nose with cherry fruit, cigar smoke, fresh paint, some nail polish. On the palate it is balsamic and very fruit-forward (this wine was just bottled), with a very mineral, ashy side to it, but good overall juiciness of sweet cherry, covered a bit by the wood at this stage. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barbera d'Alba Cannubi Muscatel 1998
Medium-dark ruby-violet. Nose of lettuce and marble ash, slightly unripe or perhaps opened for too long. Palate has soupy blackcurrant and blueberry, light body, with a bit of that lettuce thing again. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barbera d'Alba Cannubi 1997
Medium ruby. Lots of rose hips on the nose, also rose water and dried fruit (dried apricot especially); great palate of cherry syrup and balsamic sandalwood. Medium long. Wonderful wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barbera d'Alba Cannubi Muscatel 2000
Barrel sample. Very dark, with a minor violet rim. Nose of fresh cherry, sage, some old wood and minced veal. Good acidity on the palate, with lots of apparent oak (I didn't ask, but that might have been a tonneau sample). Very thick matter, almost waterless, but elegant and fruit-focused. Excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Nebbiolo d'Alba Santa Rosalia 2000
From a vineyard which is outside the Barolo DOCG, aged 6 months in botte. Light, natural ruby colour. Lots of cool orange on the nose, which is typical but very closed. Bitter finish. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barolo 1997
This is the blended Barolo, which Enzo calls 'classico'. Natural medium ruby with a strawberry shade. Nose starts with some lettuce funk which made me think of a corked bottle, then opens up with fresh violets and lots of herbal character. Soupy and very concentrated on the palate, in a balsamic style in which the fruit is integrated by an amount of old wood; very tannic and with quite high acids. Not bad. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barolo Sarmassa 1997
Slightly darker, though by a small margin, with an orange rim. Again that strange green note on the nose, which confirms it is not 'off', but rather a matter of vintage, terroir, house style, or all three; there is also some ash and wet marble, with the same kind of texture in mouth, although more structured and more superiorly juicy than the normale. Medium tannins, considerably longer than the normale, with a powerful finish. Very good Barolo which perhaps lacks some freshness. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barolo Bricco Sarmassa 1997
5,800 bottles made from this small plot of Sarmassa, situated at the top of the hill with the best exposure. More concentration here, with a jammy and dried fruit character mainly focusing on cherry and some balsamic oak. The lettuce note shows up here as well. On the palate it is thicker than any of the preceding wines, with some game meat flavours, intense, quite juicy (with a watery, elegant kind of juiciness) and medium tannins. Very good Barolo. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Brezza Barolo Cannubi 1997
7,000 bottles made. Significantly lighter colour with a wider rim. Nose shows lettuce and rubber, with slightly cooked fruit in a generally lighter register. On the palate the wine is juicy and persistent, but less convincing than both Sarmassas, although in the same style. Also with a slightly disturbing touch of milkiness. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Barolo Cannubbio 1996
Quite dark, with a serious brown rim. Pungent nose of strawberry jam and other perfumed processed fruit, with a balsamic side to it similar to Paolo Conterno wines on which I reported in May. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg after some time. Compact in mouth, pretty ashy-gravely at first, with high acidity, lots of tannins and a really astringent, almost metallic finish which seems to show signs of minor dilution. Very stupid to open this now. Give it ten years at least. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Brunata 1997
Limpid light ruby. Beautifully pure nose of red cherry, strawberry juice, some cloves and almonds. Juicy and pure on the palate, very much like the Cannubbio 1996, with intense balsamic strawberry fruit and some fruit ice-cream. Medium tannins, a bit hot on the finish. Very good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Cannubbio 1998
Barrel sample. Dark ruby core. Nose shows lots of brett and sweat; Luciano says it is 'not in a happy period'. But on the palate it is wonderfully juicy, with some chalk and strawberry. Very powerful and much longer than the 1997. Huge potential here. Excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Cannubbio 1999
Barrel sample. Dark mahogany in the glass. Amazing fresh peach note on the nose. Thinner on the palate than the 1998 I think, less imposing tannins-wise as well, though still quite powerful. Very fresh, primary profile here, dominated by amarena cherry; not as balsamic yet as other Rinaldi wines. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi Dolcetto d'Alba 2000
12,000 bottles produced, bottled April 2001. Very typical mix of strawberry and tar, excellent nose with a strong mineral component, fresh and simple. Juicy on palate, with medium persistence and a very hard-core, marble-like note. Interesting. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi Barbera d'Alba 1997
Only this older vintage was available, which Luciano sees as particularly good for Barbera. 6,700 bottles made. Medium ruby with a large rim. Nose shows lots of brett, raspberry, some juicy, sweet strawberry syrup, cherry as well. The finish thins out a little bit but overall a good wine, even if less exciting IMHO than others. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Cannubbio 1997
Bottled August 2001. 14,000 bottles made, as opposed to 8-9,000 of the Brunata and 30-40,000 of the normale (white label). Medium blood red, with a bit of a rim. Nose of dried and burnt fruit, predominantly strawberry, some candy, fruit syrup, coloured chalk; lots of perfume here. Good juiciness and length, quite ready to drink IMO, with a minor soupy bitterness. Very tannic, slightly papery/dusty, but on the long finish there's more very sweet fruit. Great stuff. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Serio & Battista Borgogno Dolcetto d'Alba 2000
Partly from purchased grapes, 10,000 bottles made. Medium violet colour. Strange, unusual nose of fresh almonds, quite heady cherry, with cooked fruit character on the palate, a quite brothy texture and medium, assertive acids. Lots of tannins on the finish. Peculiar, very strong-flavoured style of Dolcetto. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Borgogno Barbera d'Alba Superiore 1998
12 months of botte. Medium to dark ruby/violet. Very perfumed nose with lots of dark fruit, dried cherries, cassis, almost artificial in its intensity. Extremely juicy and flavourful, with lots of amarena cherries, very high acids and rather insubstantial tannins. A Barbera of huge personality. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Borgogno Nebbiolo d'Alba 1998
12 months of botte. Medium ruby core, light raspberry rim. Nose shows lots of fresh almonds and little else, if not a bit of lead pencil. The palate is a bit neutral, with medium tannins on the finish. This is very traditional, hard-core, no-credits stuff. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Borgogno Barbaresco Riserva 1996
The normale was not on tasting. This wine is made from purchased grapes. Colour is a natural medium mahogany, with a large rim. Nose is very flowery, with hints of dried fruit, coloured chalk and custard, very nice and quite complex; in mouth the wine shows a bit of the soupy texture I sometimes dislike, with some chalk and almond flavours and a very good balsamic finish. Good acids, perhaps in need of more integration, but clearly a winner. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Borgogno Barolo Cannubi 1997
No normale on tasting. Tasted from bottle n. 3607. Saturated natural colour. Lots of almonds and ash/gravel on the nose which is definitely closed and ungiving. On the palate however it is quite an accessible Barolo, soft and juicy, with sweet, elegant fruit typical of Cannubi. Good intensity and not too tannic. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Borgogno Barolo Cannubi 1996
Tasted from bottle 8086. A more balsamic nose here, with hints of chocolate, almonds and airy, elegant fruit; doubtless more intense and complex than the 1997. Palate is moderately intense, very honest and fruit-focused, with a bit of old wood patina and medium length. A very good Barolo which might develop with time, although it already is reasonably charming (after two days in the opened bottle). (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Dolcetto d'Alba 2000
Medium to dark purple. Very typical, pure and focused Dolcetto, with a chalky nose and a fresh orangey acidity in mouth, quite powerful and soupy, though seemingly on the verge of drying out (perhaps the bottle was opened for too long). Great Dolcetto. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Borgogno Barbera d'Alba 2000
6 months of oak. Medium to dark ruby. Very bretty and meaty, with a fresh almond whiff, but becoming more pure and intense after some time in the glass. High orange zest acidity, some stems, burnt wood, marzipan in mouth. Excellent traditional Barbera. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Borgogno Nebbiolo Langhe 1999
12 months of botte. Very bretty and less focused unfortunately than the two above, slightly bitter and soupy in mouth, with some strawberry and sea salt flavours. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1995
This is the riserva of the Barolo classico, with 3 years of botte ageing. Colour is medium to light ruby. Nose is very fresh and stemmy, with thick cherry, lots of wood and herbs, getting quite meaty when left in the glass for some time, although still with high intensity of currant fruit. In mouth it is intense and very long, with a complex, utterly satisfying finish; tannins are high, backed by pungent petrol and burnt tyres flavours and a rough edge on the finish. Far from ready, but should prove outstanding. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo 1996
Darker colour, though with a wider rim. Very fresh in comparison, with a dominant note of strawberry, balsamic wood, cherry liqueur, thicker and woodier in character. The sweet fruit continues on the palate with excellent focus and a slightly drying, highly acidic finish. Much more juicy than the 1995, although seems to shut up in the glass. Excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo storico 1996
This is the Liste cru (foglio di mappa number is 81/P, for those interested) with the historical, black label; recently made only in 1990, 1996, 1997 and 1998 (latter two not yet released), it was produced in this vintage in 4,246 bottles only. Colour is very dark for botte-aged Barolo. Very fine and perfumed nose, extremely sweet, concentrated, with some bitter chocolate, menthol and fresh fruit which seems covered by a mysterious veil, although there is no wood at all. Then on the palate it explodes with rare intensity, breed and consistency; not a monster, the orange zest, cherry and chalk flavours are very well tuned, woven into an elegant tissue, if extremely tannic and powerful on the very long, whispering finish. Needs time, probably lots of it, but definitely great. One of the best Barolos I have tasted this year.

11/01 Le Caniette Montepulciano 2000 for Morellone
Opaque black. Nose of stalks, raw meat, mushrooms, kirsch, some eggs, a thick and closed brute. Juicy and wonderfully defined in mouth. Very long, with excellent persistence and a fresh note on the slightly metallic and very acidic finish. Brilliant. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Sangiovese 2000 for Morellone
Very dark purple. A whiff of sardine funk, followed by marble ash and milky beef. Palate dominated by cherry fruit. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Sangiovese 2000 for Nero di Vite
Nose of fresh beef again, some rubber stink, but very complex with kirsch and small red berries. Juicy on the palate, with lots of flavour and an impressive length. Slightly disjointed, but very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Montepulciano 2000 for Nero di Vite
Vegetal nose which is slightly unclean yet, with some rubber stink. Palate is very compact and unforgiving, but wonderfully juicy, with masses of pure, sharply delineated fruit. Great. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Falerio DOC Lucrezia 2000
Named after Giovanni's daughter, I believe. A blend of 40% Trebbiano, 30% Passerina, 15% Verdicchio, 15% Pecorino. The Pecorino is fermented and aged in barrel for 5 to 7 months to tame its high acids. The wine shows a very dark straw colour and a herbal nose with lots of boiled rice, not unlike Pinot Blanc in its softness. The palate is also quite fat and buttery, though not in an oaky way; the attack is especially smooth, while later there is enough acidity to balance that. Good white. 10,000 bottles made, 10,000 lire / $5. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Rosso Piceno Rosso Bello 1999
50% Montepulciano, 50% Sangiovese; shortly aged in old barriques. 25,000 bottles made. Dark purple colour; as a matter of fact, all Giovanni's reds are named after the colours used by Michelangelo, to stress Ripatransone's relationship with the Renaissance master through his pupil and first biographer Ascanio Condivi, born in the town. Huge nose of stems, leather, musk, roasted spices, quite austere, though opening with some sausage and mineral notes. On the palate it does show some oak in a fresh paint flavour, but there's a good amount of fresh cherry. Finish is perhaps slightly bitter. Very honest, excellent basic red which would do wonders with pasta. A steal at 11,000 lire / $5. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Rosso Piceno Morellone 1999
70% Montepulciano, 30% Sangiovese, aged in 60% new oak (although the superb 2000 I tasted will not be); 14,000 bottles made. Way more elegant on the nose, though still quite animal, with some milky oak superseded by cherry ice-cream, porcini mushrooms, some raw meat and old wood. In mouth there are more porcini, great juiciness and persistence and excellent length. Medium tannins. Oustanding wine at 20,000 lire / $10. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Rosso Piceno Nero di Vite 1998
This wine was first made in 1998 (4,000 bottles in total) and the current regime of 100% new oak did not apply then; 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese at, as mentioned, less than 40 q/ha. No 1999 has been made due to continuous rain from mid-August to mid-September, crucial Sangiovese ripening period, so the mind-blowing 2000, better for Montepulciano than Sangiovese IMO, contrary to what Giovanni says, will be the second vintage. This explodes with bitter chocolate and cocoa aromas on the nose, which is a bit one-dimensional but fascinating, slightly vegetal with fresh almonds and cherry liqueur. Still a bit soupy of course and also slightly cheesy, but integrated and juicy on the palate, with cocoa, black cherry and lots of salted sausage. Needs time, but very impressive. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Le Caniette Sibilla Agrippa
A passito of 100% Passerina, not vintage-labelled but this one actually from 1997. Will become a DOC Offida in 2001. Half-bottle n. 3871 of 4,000, 14% alc. Rich amber colour. Lots of VA on the varnishy nose, followed by rich passito scents of apricot jam and some onion-like botrytis. Palate is quite evolved and a bit too sweet to be really balanced, but quite enjoyable. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Oasi degli Angeli Kurni 2000
From barrique, in which it had stayed 18-20 months. Medium purple colour which is not too dark. Very assertive nose of fried bacon and some black fruit (blueberries mainly), very fat, but with that strange type of bacony, sausagey oak. On the palate it is very closed, very tannic and very acidic, compact and fat, with some sour cherry flavours and an underlying minerality. Thick as ink, yet relatively harmonious IMO. The scribbled note in my notebook reads 'great'. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Oasi degli Angeli Kurni IGT 1999
Bottled two months prior, almost 15% alcohol. Dark purple, almost opaque colour. Nose starts with black fruit milkshake and some animal notes, opening tremendously in scents as varied as vanilla pods, high-grade black tea, chicken broth, lavender and a touch of sea breeze. Some green bell pepper and liquorice come to add to the complexity over the twenty minutes we spent with the glass in hand. The palate is thick and unctuous, but superiorly juicy, not too blocky or aggressive, rather elegant and eminently drinkable. A minor touch of minerality is also present. Quite long, with chalk dust on the finish. Great wine without any hesitation, probably at the level of first growth Bordeaux, although difficult to interpret at this stage and in these circumstances, and I am afraid I did not quite do it justice, or even misunderstood it to some extent, given it will need many, many years of cellaring to reveal all its secrets. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Casa Vinicola Gioacchino Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2000
100% Verdicchio, aged in steel. Fresh, slightly sweet, grapey and yeasty nose. Fresh and very easy-drinking in mouth. A solid basic white with just a hint of artificiality in its headiness. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Macrina 2000
100% Verdicchio, aged in steel. Light straw colour. Much more refined nose, with grapes, gooseberry, yeast, a whiff of cognac and parsley. Smooth, almost creamy texture here, with high acidity on the finish. Overall a soft, feminine wine of very good quality. I re-tasted this later in Recanati with food and was again quite favourably impressed. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Podium 1999
100% Verdicchio, aged in steel only for 12 months. This and the following wine come from the single 17-ha Cupo di Lama vineyard. This is the wine which made Garofoli's fame worldwide. Medium golden colour. Extremely intense nose of apricot, gooseberry gelée, peach jam, a touch of alcohol, very 'late-harvest' really, but supremely elegant as well. On the palate the surmaturité character is even more evident, with very ripe sweet fruit and extreme smoothness again. No Verdicchio rusticity of any kind here; a well-mannered, re-interpreted, but very impressive modern wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Serra Fiorese 1998
100% Verdicchio, aged in oak. Extremely oaky, almost artificial wine with sweet vanilla extract, but also a strong and displeasing herbal and nail polish note. Not for me. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Rondini IGT 2000
40% Verdicchio, 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon, aged in steel. Nose is very herbal and vegetal, with ash and some cigarette smoke plus cool gooseberry fruit. Slightly out of focus on the nose IMO. Full-flavoured in mouth, with a touch of sweetness on the finish (Chardonnay showing?). OK, but less exciting than the Verdicchios.

11/01 Garofoli Kòmaros Rosé IGT 2000
100% Montepulciano, aged in steel. Medium pink colour. A rose of strawberry fruit and some flowers, with high acidity and minor stemminess. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Rosso Piceno Farnio 2000
60% Sangiovese, 40% Montepulciano, aged in botte. Very dark purple. Nose of fresh paint, griotte cherries, some ash and wet marble, quite painty and fleshy, with a strong freshly picked black cherry profile. A bit short and not too complex on the palate, but very good. As the Macrina, retasted later in my trip with similarly positive impressions. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Rosso Piceno Colle Ambro 1998
Same grapes as above, aged in botte for 12 months. Slightly lighter colour and nose, with ash, ripe blackcurrant, and a strange fried cod note appearing with time, which however is not unpleasant; two steps more refined really than the Farnio. Balanced, although not too intense on the palate, with high acidity and flavours of cherry, blackcurrant and griotte. Medium tannins. Give it time. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Rosso Conero Piancarda 1998
100% Montepulciano, over 12 months of botte. Dark ruby garnet. Meaty and fleshy nose with red fruit nose; juicy cherry on the palate, perhaps a bit short but very good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Rosso Conero Riserva Grosso Agontano 1997
100% Montepulciano, aged 18 months of barrique, 18 months in bottle. Very mineral nose perfumed with cherry liqueur and ash, followed by some sweet oak and pizza funk. Juicy on the palate, quite pure and focused, again lacking a bit in length, with some more ash on the finish. Excellent red. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Le Comete Ross VdT 1994
This wine comes from a very limited series (less than 1,000 bottles) of 'fantasy' wines that Carlo Garofoli makes from odd grapes he purchases in the region. This edition is based on 100% Sagrantino and saw over 18 months of barrique. Subsequent vintages, which were not on tasting, were based on Montepulciano passito, Lacrima and other strange things. Medium purple with a rusty, brownish rim. Intense nose of dried currants and ladies' perfume, some raisins and a well-focused marble ash note. Very intense also on the palate, with medium body but an inky, impenetrable texture. Relatively mellow and probably not worth further ageing, but excellent wine nonetheless, very typical of Sagrantino. I saw odd bottles of this in the Recanati enoteca I frequented at 18,000 lire, a huge bargain IMO. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Le Comete Kress VdT 1994
100% Cabernet, 18 months of barrique. Pretty dark colour, if a bit rusty. Nose is pretty ashy and vegetal, with lots of bell pepper, while the palate is balanced, integrated, with a dusty, marble-like tannic finish. Good acidity. Quite convincing Cabernet, although it lacks the charm of the Ross. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Passito Le Brume 1998
This passito is dried on grates until the end of November, has 14.5% alcohol and c. 40 g/l of residual sugar. Gianfranco says it is sometimes also a muffato depending on the vintage's climatic conditions (an approach I have seen quite frequently in Italy, e.g. in Umbria with Orvieto or in Tuscany with Le Pupille's new sweet wine Sol Alto). He calls it a 'vino da formaggio' rather than a dessert one. It glows with medium golden in the glass. The nose is pungent with notes of lemon, dried herbs, some fried onion hints of botrytis, but overall not the nose of a sweet wine. Palate shows very moderate sweetness and good acidity, with some onion flavours again. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Garofoli Dorato VdT 1999
100% Moscato Bianco, r.s. at 100 g/l. 12% alc. Nice nose of grape must marmalade, orange sorbet and other citric scents, quite elegant and airy. Good elegance also on the palate, quite grapey-muscatey, not too sweet, more candied-fruit-like than honeyed in its character. Excellent stuff, and a nice surprise. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fattoria Le Terrazze Villa Giulia Brut IGT 1991
This is Le Terrazze's metodo classico champenois, as mentioned on the label. 100% Montepulciano, early-harvested, fermented in steel. Tirage in April 1992, disgorged spring 2000. Colour is dark lemon-yellow. Slightly dirty, ashy nose recurrent in these Central Italian spumanti, with hints of boiled chicken but otherwise quite fresh and fruity. There's a pulpy core of yellow fruit here, which seems to share a doughy, creamy texture with some Verdicchios, even if it is a bit more opaque than most. Not too long, with a hint of bitterness and some lemon juice on finish. Neither too intense nor particularly well-defined, though it does not show any particular flaws. At first I considered it a failed experiment of sparkling Montepulciano, mainly because of the not too exciting aromatic profile, but with time the bouquet got much better, developing slate and musk notes and good depth. Lacks complexity and substance perhaps, but ultimately proves a good drink. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fattoria Le Terrazze Le Cave Chardonnay IGT 2000
100% Chardonnay from a 2-ha plot of 20-year-old vines. A 'small part' is fermented in oak, mentions the label. A good Chardonnay without too much oak and quite good terroir character. Please see my separate post on the comparative Verdicchio tasting, where it was actually served. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fattoria Le Terrazze Rosso Conero 1999
100% Montepulciano, 12-15 months of botte. Dark purple colour with violet. Meaty and stemmy nose of Montepulciano here, with notes of tobacco, cow shit and milky beef plus the slightest whiff of barrique. Not too fruity at first. Palate is juicy, with rather light-bodied and balsamic fruit, quite different from the definitely rustic nose. Black peppercorn and some bell pepper as well, a touch of musk, kirsch or macerated cherries. Slightly hollow on the ashy finish. Embodies the word 'well-made', I thought, but seems to lack a degree of definition. I suspected this would benefit from airing time and decanted it, and after some time a hugely sweet cherry fruit perfume did emerge, though still in a rather stemmy context with overnotes of bread crust, mixed spices and orange flowers. Also the acidity gets more convincing, gaining a featherlight, elegant character. But it still lacks some stuffing and the finish stays rather ashy. Almost excellent at this point. But after some shuffling with the two other reds and my only decanter, I left this wine in it overnight and this was a mistake. After 8 hours in the decanter, the following morning, the nose is still stemmy and acidic, but the promise of concentrated fruit is gone and there's a positively vinegary whiff of VA and fresh paint. Shorter now and slightly tired, it also shows more sulphur than I would like. Light body. Stylish it is not, though surely authentic, but in any case its incapacity to withstand oxidation puzzles me for such a young Montepulciano. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fattoria Le Terrazze Rosso Conero Sassi Neri 1998
100% Montepulciano, 12 months of barrique, of which 1/3 is new. Lighter or at least warmer purple than the normale. Much more intense nose of blackberry jam and sponge cake, with hints of oak and a cool note of cucumber, less varietally defined than the normale, but really nice to sniff. On the palate it is juicy and very long, still a bit overwhelmed by oak, but revealing a good, thick matter. Good acidity. Some sponge cake-like oak here as well, although since IMO Montepulciano seems to absorb new barrique better than other grapes, it is not obtrusive. Opens up with very fresh raspberry and a quite leafy note, while staying fleshy and slightly milky on the palate. Thick, but not overtly jammy texture. Excellent wine no doubt. But the first impression remains the best, as it tends to soften with time in the glass and lose its acidic edge, while becoming perhaps slightly blurred. Although it is two steps more refined than the Rosso Conero, compared to the Chaos it seems nobler but more austere; subsidiary aromatic notes of coffee, cinnamon, orange peel and bread crust appear, in a slightly thin, but elegant, eminently Italian style. It still shows very good acidity and length, although perhaps slightly hot after an hour in the glass. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fattoria Le Terrazze Chaos IGT 1999
The figures for the 1998 are 50% Montepulciano, 25% Merlot and 25% Syrah and this is also what Antonio Terni told me, but JFO gave different figures in his TN a couple of weeks ago. This wine has a nice label with multi-coloured fractals which change every year. Lighter purple than the Sassi Neri. More or less the same nose as the previous wine, starting with sponge cake and blackberry spread, grapefruit peel, mineral overtones, plus a touch of bacon revealing its Syrah component. A whiff of malt whisky is also present. On the palate the length is very good and the juiciness seems even superior to the Sassi Neri, with a bacony / sausagey background present throughout. Also an ash note, especially on the finish. It is of course more milky and spongy, having seen exclusively new oak, or perhaps it has not absorbed the oak as deftly as the 100% Montepulciano Sassi Neri. Acidity seems higher, or not as integrated. While the sweetness again points at the oak regime, the Chaos also seems to have more stuffing than the Sassi Neri. Medium tannins are followed by a soft, juicy, slightly oaky aftertaste. Perhaps too easy-drinking, I thought at this point, and preferred the SN for its elegance and sharpness. But the Chaos evolves much more convincingly in the glass, getting fresher notes of red currant and raspberry, while losing the bacony fat. Not a monster of concentration or size, it is nevertheless very well-focused and pleasant to drink at this stage, while IMO keeping a strong ageing potential of 5-8 years. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2000
Vineyard blend aged in steel, 70,000 bottles made. Cheesy nose with fresh, crisp fruit, very good intensity in mouth, lemony acids. Good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Pignocco 2000
100% Verdicchio from a single vineyard, steel-matured, 60,000 bottles made. Much more perfumed than the above, with ash, butter, fresh grass and some egg white. On the palate it lacks a bit of intensity, but has an interesting light, smooth texture. Lemon and celery flavours, with quite a lot of slate coming up. Very well-defined and very good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Le Vaglie 2000
55% aged in steel, 45% late-harvested and aged in botte, then blended. 40,000 bottles made. Darker straw colour. Nose of egg white, parsley and lemon juice. Very juicy and fruit-forward in mouth, with just a touch of sweetness on the finish. Bread crust flavours, good depth. Very good. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Stefano Antonucci 1999
This is a riserva aged for 12 months in barriques, of which 50% are new; 7,500 bottles made. Dark straw. Lemon sorbet and some new oak of the herbal kind. Fat creature on the palate, with lots of sweet oak which is not to my liking, though there is good balance and quite a good length. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Stefano Antonucci 2000
Barrel sample. Quite yeasty yet, more vanilla-marked than the 1999, with lower acids. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Rosso Piceno 2000
Montepulciano with a bit of Sangiovese, aged in steel. Very dark purple core. Typical herbal and strawberrish nose. Quite juicy and fruity on the palate, with a bit of carbonic maceration I believe in the hints of tar and strawberry jam. A bit short and ashy on finish, but very, very impressive for the price (4,000 lire / $2). (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Pignocco Rosso IGT Marche Rosso 2000
40% Montepulciano and 20% each of Merlot, Lacrima and Moscato Rosso; 35,000 bottles made. Quite dark colour. Nose also has strawberry, but with some dirty notes. Juicy and ice-cream-like on the palate, with minor tannins and a hint of bitterness; an OK wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Vigna San Bartolo IGT 1999
75% Montepulciano and 25% Cabernet from a vineyard which belonged to Stefano's father Nicola. Deep mineral nose with fresh beef and strawberry jam. Palate shows processed strawberry and good acidity, some wet earth, lacking some focus perhaps, but very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Stefano Antonucci Rosso IGT 1998
50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet, 25% Montepulciano, 18 months of barrique, yields in the region of 35 q/ha. Very dark purple, though short of black. Nose of oak, cherry, fresh almonds, with good cherry-like juiciness on the palate. Not huge body, medium length. Convincing. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Santa Barbara Stefano Antonucci Rosso IGT 2000
Barrel sample, same blend, but with 1 ha of newly planted Syrah added. Much more spicy and perfumed nose, with kirsch, cloves and some fresh almonds coming up a bit. Between juicy and soupy on the palate, which is no sin for a barrel sample; good intensity and freshness of cherry fruit. The Syrah component seems to give it the extra bit of focus I missed in the 1998. Will be excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fratelli Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2000
100% Verdicchio, with yields reduced from the legal limit of 140 q/ha to 60-70 q/ha; aged 3-4 months in 50-75 hl botti. Quite light in colour. Nose starts quite dirty, rustic, yeasty, with complex vegetal minestrone aromas. On the palate it is full-bodied, mainly parsley-scented, with very high acidity. A very good wine with lots of character, perhaps a bit overpowering at the moment, but with two or three years in the bottle should prove outstanding. 12,000 lire / $6. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fratelli Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva Villa Bucci 1997
Under the new Verdicchio rulebook the category of Riserva is now authorised. Only produced in the best vintages, this riserva is a blend of the five family vineyards, fermented in steel and aged 12 to 19 months in large botti, which are 30-40 years old. Claudia says it is 'like a white Burgundy'. Very complex nose with nuances of lemon peel, sage, slate, white flowers and some butter, in fact a bit fat and waxy. Extremely intense on the palate, especially at mid-palate, with vanilla flavours and a touch of lanolin. Not bitter, bit shows some lemon peel on the medium-long finish. A bit better on nose than on palate, but definitely brilliant stuff. Although it was the first Verdicchio which I tried on this trip, it might quite ironically also be the best, or in any case the most outstandingly individual. Very traditional in style, it is clearly made for the long haul. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Fratelli Bucci Rosso Piceno 1994
Blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Sangiovese, aged for 12 months in botti. Colour of dark but transparent cherry juice. Nose of strawberry, cherry spirit, some stems, with an underlying mineral streak; black cherry and orange peel appear with time. The palate is simple, but nicely juicy with cherry and tar flavours. A basic red well worth the asking price of 12,500 lire / $6. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Brunello di Montalcino, 1995, Col d'Orcia
A: Dark red, almost black. Clear rim. N: Very closed up but a couple of hours of air began to reveal aromas of brambles, black fruits and hints of dark chocolate. Not a huge nose, just very subdued. P: Again signs of being closed as not much is given away, but there are further hints of black fruits and chocolate. The finish is much more forthcoming with a full on spiciness which lasts long and lots of dry tannins and acidity. S: I found this very hard to judge and I'm guessing I hit it at the wrong point in time. It did seem to have a lot to offer but it was sulking in a corner somewhere and needed a lot of coaxing just to get a glimmer of what, hopefully, will show itself in the future. Drink 2005 onwards ? (Paul Anderson, UK)

11/01 A Mano Primitivo 2000
doesn`t have the sheer decadence of the 99, but still fantastic quality in a £5.99 supermarket wine. Lush liquorishy nose with tons of ripe black fruit on the palate. Heady stuff! (Neal Martin, UK)

11/01 Gaja Rossj Bass 1996
Quite and oakey nose and cristal clear. Biting acidity indicates that this one will go on for quite a while yet. I am not sure that it had enough fruit to see it go the distance though. I have never tasted a younger version of this wine so cannot compare. It does not taste as though it has been through malolactic conversion but could probably do with it for the UK's cold winter nights. (Absloutly wonderful though on a summers day in Italy! (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 1998 I Sistri Chardonnay – Felsina
Pale lemon colour. Fine complex nose of pineapple fruit, minerals and a hint of vanilla. Good fresh acidity. The initial impression is of finesse rather than power, but the fruit comes through strongly and lasts well on the long finish. Although barrel-fermented the oak is well reined in and contributes a certain background depth rather than obvious flavours. Drinking very well now, but will last 5 years. Conclusion: Very, very good and good value at £13-95 from Liberty Wines. (IMO compares well with Jermann's "Dreams" - at half the price - and is much better than Gaja's Rossj-Bass.) (Trevor March, UK)

09/01 Fonta Candida Frascati Superiore 'Santa Teresa' 1999
This is from a single 12 ha vineyard at an altitude of 300 m, and is a blend of Malvasia, Trebbiano and Greco grape varieties. A full yellow colour, the nose is initially a little muted, with some faint floral notes and a slightly musky edge. The palate is medium bodied, with some herbal notes. As the wine warms up in the glass, a little coaxing reveals a good density of waxy, herby fruit: this is full flavoured for a Frascati, and nicely savoury. Very good+ (£7.50 La Vigneronne) (Jamie Goode, UK)

09/01 1991 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva Vigna del Fiore, Fattoria dei Barbi
With dinner. The latest bottlings of this single (14 acre) vineyard no longer carry the reserva tag, but it's still their most expensive wine. Still very young looking with purple hints. Nose mainly of primary fruits plus some spice and liquorice. Medium tannins plus lingering acidity with plummy fruit. Given another 10 years, probably excellent. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1997 Brigante dei Barbi, Fattoria dei Barbi
An IGT wine, 50:50 blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Deep garnet. Very fruity. Not completely serious, but would make a terrific bbq wine. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1999 Brusco dei Barbi, Fattoria dei Barbi
This is the big volume 100% Sangiovese wine from this estate. Lovely plum pie nose. Rich and fruity in the mouth. This would be a bargain at £5, but it's actually only around £3.50 ! (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1996 Brunello di Montalcino, Fattoria dei Barbi
Excellent deep colour. Nose is bright with high flowery notes. Tannic, good acidity but also great fruit so good balance. Very good (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1995 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva, Fattoria dei Barbi
Looked a little more mature than the above wine, but with a similar nose. Felt much rounder in the mouth with more subdued tannins and similar acidity. Not sure that it is 'better' than the last wine. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1994 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva, Fattoria dei Barbi
With dinner. Garnet colour with a hint of orange at the rim. Bold tannin with excellent acidity. Not quite as smooth as the 1995 reserva but feels a bigger wine. Drinking better than the 1995 just now. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1993 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva, Castel Giocondo
With lunch. Most mature looking wine so far – not sure about the storage here, however, a nice clean nose. A common theme developing here with medium tannins plummy fruit and good lingering acidity. Very good. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1996 Brunello di Montalcino, Altesino
At winery. Deep garnet. High toned but sweet nose. Robust but ripe tannins and mouth watering acidity supported by really expressive plum and cherry fruit. Brusque but fun. Very good. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1995 Brunello di Montalcino, Altesino (half)
With dinner. Good deep garnet. High-toned nose. It might have been the food (tagliatelle with porcini & creamy sauce) but this wine was just a bit anonymous. Not bad acidity, ripe tannins with good fruit. Good but . . (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1995 Brunello di Montalcino, Rennina, Pieve Santa Restituta - Gaja (half)
With dinner. The great man himself bought this property in 1994, apparently a blend of 3 vineyards. Very different to anything tasted so far. Deep ruby colour, with a sumptuous creamy, fruity nose. Thick and silky in the mouth with cherry compote fruit. Well disguised tannic structure and good acidity. I only wish the wine stayed around as long as the creamy (Alliers?) aftertaste. Brilliant, it's Brunello, but is it Brunello di Montalcino? You won't taste anything like this from anywhere else. I paid an arm and a leg for the last bottle I could find (with a decent temp in the cellar) in Montalcino. Found some half bottles in UK since for cheaper (Armit). (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1996 Brunello di Montalcino, Sugarilla, Pieve Santa Restituta - Gaja
With dinner. Apparently the premium wine from a single vineyard. Dark ruby. Nose takes time to develop. Eventually shows red cherry with background oak and white pepper. Very intense cherry fruit, medium tannins and high, but balanced, acidity. A very young wine that starts to show quite well after 45 minutes in the decanter. Will probably be excellent, but 95 Rennina is much better. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1999 Promis, Pieve Santa Restituta - Gaja
An IGT wine, 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, in theory for drinking younger. Inky purple colour. The ripeness of fruit is reminiscent of New World wines, but with a better lick of acidity. Thick but ripe tannins. Needs another year or two. But still very good now. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1995 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Spuntali, Angelini
Tasted in Enotica. I was looking for a 'Rennina' look-alike. This wine has less dimension on the nose and is less thick in the mouth, but is similar in length. At only 90% as good as Rennina this is still a fantastic wine. I bought some.

09/01 1995 Brunello di Montalcino, Fattoria Poggio di Sotto
With dinner. Higher toned nose, less expressive than Rennina. Amazing mouthfeel, like silk, maybe even like a good Grands Echezeaux. Beautifully covered tannins with the lingering acidity prolonging the creamy (Alliers?) finish. Excellent. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

09/01 1995 Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta Col d'Orcia
The only 'suspect' bottle (apart from maybe the 95 half bottle Altesino). I opened this one and was not 100% sure about the smell in the neck of the bottle. My drinking companion, headwaiter at an excellent local eatery had a sniff of the cork and said it was fine (just shows!). The nose was subdued fruit, the colour was good there was good ripe tannin, nice acidity and cherry fruit – but. The wine disappointed. I'm sure mildly corked though no obvious faults, as this is supposed to be a very good producer.

08/01 Podere Luigi Einaudi Barolo 1997
Cherry red colour with a brick red rim, this has a complex nose of herbs, leather, smoke and undergrowth. It's dense, dry and tannic on the palate. Needs time and will undoubtedly improve; a serious but austere wine. Very good+, with the potential to develop (Lea & Sandeman £24.95) (Jamie Goode, UK)

08/01 Podere Luigi Einaudi Barolo 'Cannubi' 1997
This is from a single vineyard (Cannubi), where Einaudi have recently acquired a block of vines, and is aged in barriques. It shows notes of leather, old wood and undergrowth on the nose. It has a lovely, complex spicy/savoury palate with firm tannins. One for the future; it would be a shame to drink this now. Very good/excellent, with the potential to improve (Lea & Sandeman £33.95) (Jamie Goode, UK)

08/01 Podere Luigi Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani 'Vigna Tecc' 1999
A single vineyard wine from the Dogliani commune made only from the oldest vines, this is fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. It's a beautiful deep purple colour and displays ripe, sweet, black cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is soft, sweet and fruity, and shows great concentration. Gorgeous. Very good/excellent (Lea & Sandeman £10.95) (Jamie Goode, UK)

08/01 Podere Luigi Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani 'i Filari' 1999
From the best rows of vines, and aged in big oak barrels; only 5000 bottles made. This deep coloured wine shows lovely sweet black cherry fruit on the nose with some herby, spicy notes in the background. The palate shows sweet fruit and reasonably firm tannins, with huge concentration. Seductive. Very good/excellent (Lea & Sandeman £13.50) (Jamie Goode, UK)

08/01 Planeta 1998 Santa Cecilia Nero d'Avola
Unusual colour. A shade away from a young dark purple, but not the normal sort of young purple - more red in it. Good nose. Very deep, ripe fruit with a sort of maquis undercurrent. The attack is actually exciting: full, rich and interesting. Opens out enormously on palate. Bags of fruit with some pleasing soft tannins coming through on the finish. A very big wine, but without being aggressive or dominant. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

07/01 Colli Euganei Pinot Bianco, "Agno Casto", Vignalta 1997
A light and bright golden colour this wine has a hint of decaying vegetal matter in the nose, and perhaps a bit of honey. In the mouth peaches and melon but again with a vegetal note that is very unexpected in a pinot bianco. A lack of acidity means that this feels a bit cloying after a while. Decent finish. This seems like a serious wine and plenty of effort seems to have gone into the winemaking, but in the end the fruit has been obscured and the lack of acidity means that it lacks interest. (Mark Pearce, UK)

08/01 1997 Barbaresco Coste Rubin - Fontanafredda
Quite deep ruby with hint of garnet at the rim. Nose of cherries and other red fruits, plus herbs and alcohol. Predictably high acid and quite prominent, but ripe tannins. Good cherry and redcurrant fruit, backed up with vanilla, herbs and a warm but balanced glow of alcohol. All OK and correct so far. Then the surprise: really extraordinary length, coating the mouth in waves of grippy flavour for fully 40 seconds. Ready now with food, but should improve for a couple of years and last 3-5 thereafter. Very good value. (Italian & Continental Stores Maidenhead - £13-86) (Trevor March, UK)

07/01 Soave Classico Superior Inama, 1998
Around £7 from Raeburn. Fresh, round, and very subtle - it gains surprising nutty complexity with time in the glass - and is vivacious with real finesse. (Nick Martin, UK)

07/01 Verdicchio San Nicolo 2000 Mario & Giorgio Brunori
Bibendum. A long time personal favourite stretching back to the 1996 vintage. Intense, peaches 'n cream, vibrant, gets better with a year or two bottle age. A bit of a steal at £6.60. (Nick Martin, UK)

07/01 Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti "Nivole" 2000
served chilled this made a wonderfully refreshing appertiser, kicking the taste buds into gear, not too sweet and slightly fizzy with only 5% alocohol it could almost be Grapetise but gave an impression of something classy that is worth trying again. (Charles Adams, UK)

07/01 1997 Ciro Duca Sanfelice Riserva (Librandi)
Bright strawberry red core with a broad pink rim, watery at the extreme edge. Lots or tears. Intense and complex nose of strawberries, vanilla, leather, herbs and alcohol. High, but refreshing acidity. Moderate but ripe tannins - nothing like as fearsome as expected. Med/full bodied. 13.5% alc - well-balanced. Plenty of strawberries with vanilla on the palate. Earthy finish with a warm glow. Good length. Very good overall and ideal with strongly-flavoured meat, cheese or vegetable dishes. Much, much more approachable than expected, but there's also the stuffing to keep 3 years or so. (Trevor March)

07/01 Sassicaia 1990
Deep and very glossy ruby red core. Just a hint of brown at the extreme rim. Nose initially quite subdued, but opened out to become complex and enticing, revealing blackcurrants, black cherries, vanilla and leather. Full-bodied, with ripe tannins. On the palate some (but not a lot of) black fruits, backed up with vanilla, spice and earthiness. Certainly complex. Very good length, but more driven by secondary flavours than the fruit. Conclusion: Very, very good, but (by the very highest standards) something was slightly missing compared with, say, the Margaux '85 I tried earlier this year. Should I have decanted earlier, as it certainly improved during the course of the meal? Or is it just going through a particular phase? I have a couple more bottles to "experiment" with, but will probably not try again for at least 2 years. (Trevor March, UK)

07/01 1995 Case Via Syrah - Fontodi
Quite a deep ruby core fading to a broad pink rim, browning at the extreme edge. Very appealing nose of blackberries, pepper, herbs and alcohol. Medium bodied. Quite acidic, with very ripe tannins. Very, very juicy, ripe, almost sweet blackberry fruit flavours with a distinct herbal backing. Peppery finish. Only moderate length. Ready now, but enough fruit to last a couple more years. Overall good and an interesting change - I'd buy the odd bottle again (at around £20) - although I think Tuscany does Cabernet better (Trevor March, UK)

06/01 Incyon Chardonnay 2000, Bianco di Sicilia
Richly textured and full flavoured, showing buttery fruit well balanced by firm acidity. The oak influence is noticeable, and there's a bit of heat from the high alcohol on the finish. I'm not as enthusiastic about this as many of the other critics, although I'd say this vintage is better than the 1999. Good/very good (Sainsbury £4.99) (Jamie Goode, UK)

06/01 A Mano Primitivo 2000, Puglia
I was really impressed by the pungent, boldly flavoured 1999 vintage of this wine; while the 2000 example isn't bad, it suffers in comparison. It's quite light and a bit rustic, with some spiciness underlying the bright, modern fruit. Lacking a bit of excitement and individuality. Good/very good (Sainsbury £5.99) (Jamie Goode, UK)

06/01 1995 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - Vigna Asinone (Poliziano)
Youthful appearance. Rich ruby core, fading a little to a narrow pink/red rim. Lovely nose - cherries, plums, herbs and alcohol. Lots of tannin: ripe, but could do with more age to soften. Plenty of red fruit, spice and herbs, then a curious dip on the palate before a very long mineral finish. Conclusion: Has all the components, but IMO not ready yet. Will try the other bottle in 3-5 yrs. (Trevor March, UK)

06/01 Zenato 'Ripassa' Valpolicella Superiore 1998
A superb, striking, concentrated wine, although some might find it a little bit sweet and oaky. Concentrated purple/red colour, with a lovely characterful nose of exotic herby/spicy cherry fruit with a slightly dusty edge. The palate is dense and concentrated, with coffee and chocolate flavours and a noticeable sweetness to the fruit. It's a ripe, lush style, with noticeable influence from French oak, and lacking the slightly bitter (although not unpleasant) finish often associated with Valpolicella. Very good/excellent (Bottoms Up £7.99) (Jamie Goode, UK)

06/01 1995 Nozzole Il Pareto Cabernet Sauvignon (Tuscany)
Deep rich ruby red core almost to rim. Youthful appearance. Fine nose of blackcurrants, vanilla, leather and spice. Very good on the palate too - waves of blackcurrant fruit nicely integrated with the oak, plus hints of herbs and spices. Smooth ripe tannins. Very good length. Ready now, but will keep 3-5 years. (Cost around £22 in Italy.) (Trevor March, UK)

06/01 Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 1997
Colour is what you'd expect from a '97 - dense burgundy with a hint of purple. Nose actually subsides quite quickly in air, but you can bring out spicy concentrated black cherry, cured meats, mixed-berry fruits and perhaps plum. On the palate the plummy/black cherry fruit has fairly grippy but ripe tannin with the acid not as noticable as tannin. Certainly the finish is persistent, slightly drying - asking for food. I'm not convinced this is the oak, but time will tell. I'd say this needs a few years fully open up. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

06/01 Barolo "Brunate" 1997, Roberto Voerzio
Drunk at Belvedere restaurant, La Morra, which is stunning, by the way. This is to be released in September this year. Deep, blood red (vein blood) colour. Melted tar, young leather and some floral notes on the nose. A little "hot" at this stage, with the alcohol poking through. Also some spice character, and a background of brown sugar (had this before with Brunate). In the mouth, it is thick, enormous wine, filled with solid, almost painfully intense fruit. An enormous chassis of tannins, which are unctuous and ripe. Finish goes on for ever. Blood of Nebbiolo. I would leave for 5 years at least. This will be first class. Last glass 2x complex than the first. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

06/01 Barolo Vigna del Gris 1997, Conterno-Fantino
Gentler, softer [than this producer's other wines] but still tightly wound young Barolo of spectacular quality. Super nose, integrated fruit and alcohol and oak, though you are aware of them as components - not the amazing harmony of Voerzio. Lovely balance. Good length. Elegance. Incense character. Sweet tannins. Top class! (Joel Hopwood, UK)

06/01 Barbaresco 1991, Angelo Gaja
Clear, bright, blood-red colour with tawny rim. Just a great nose... delicate red fruit aroma, crushed raspberries, violets and yes, melting tar overlaid with rose-water, just like the books say. Woodsmoke. Huge complexity and real class. Keeps you coming back to the glass for more and more and more. Only medium bodied, but so silken and smooth and elegant. Complete, balanced and long. Mouth cleansing acidity. The essence of fine wine. I just have to give this five stars, but it's from a washout, dreadful vintage, so what must the 1985 or 1982 taste like? (Joel Hopwood, UK)

06/01 2000 Pino Grigio - Jermann
Good fresh green fruit backed up by quite a long mineral finish. Fine crisp acidity without a trace of harshness. Pino Grigio on a different planet - as I would expect from this producer. (Trevor March, UK)

05/01 Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva 1997
Even colour, noswith hints of red fruits and cherries, tastes of berries and cherries, with a soft and reasonably long finish. This was a perfectly correct Chianti, but it didn't excite me at all and I won't be going back (Mark Pearce, UK)

04/01 1990 Vigna Cicala, Aldo Conterno
this should have come before the Tache; as it was I missed the point of it during my first glass. A gentle giant, it seemed like a geography teacher with leathers elbow patches after it. Redcurrant on nose, anise on finish would mark it out in a blind tasting quite easily. I came round to its infinite earthy complexity after a while, and felt very ashamed of myself. Very great wine, but just as you don't drink Haut-Brion after Margaux, this quiet, thoughtful, unflashy but huge, concentrated thing (perfectly structured but once again very balanced) needs to come before the show-offs, or, better, be drunk on a different evening. (George Horton, UK)

04/01 Barbera "Vigna Clara", Eraldo Viberti 1997
Plums and black cherries, with a touch of cedar. Beautifully balanced, supple and elegantly structured, finishing with good length. A gorgeous wine (Alex Bernardo, USA)

04/01 Barolo "Rocche di Castiglione Falleto", Oddero 1997
Chewy ripe plums, really generous ripe fruit flavors, almost jammy, backed by a firm tannic structure. Stunning depth and length. (Alex Bernardo, USA)

04/01 Barolo "Mondoca di Bussia Soprana", Oddero 1997
Muted nose, but showing deep, concentrated dark fruit flavors on the palate, more like cassis and plums. Firms tannins and a nice rich texture. (Alex Bernardo, USA)

04/01 Barolo "Cannubi", Enrico Pira di Chiara Boschis 1997
Surprisingly, this is noticeably oaky, with a distinct vanilla on the palate. Yet, the fruit is dense, deep, concentrated, but still closed. This large-scaled, muscular wine appears to be at a "dumb stage" at this time. In contrast, the 1996 was more open, with the oak more integrated at a similar period. (Alex Bernardo, USA)

04/01 Vin Santo Bianco Dell'Empolese, Piazzano 1991
A successful year for Vin Santo in my opinion and this is an excellent example. Floral on the nose, with nice sweet caramel flavors highlighted by good acidity. Very elegant and smooth, it shows wonderful persistence on the finish. Many more years ahead for this one. (Alex Bernardo, USA)

04/01 Moscato d'Asti "Vigneto Biancospino", La Spinetta 2000
The Rivettis are in a zone right now, they simply can do no wrong, and this is a slam-dunk. Rose petals on the nose. Very ripe, very juicy, very sweet, like ripe green apples, and the finish is delicious. I feel like I can drink this all day. (Alex Bernardo, USA)

04/01 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1999 Umani Ronchi
Nose was fairly slight, with some herbs, oak and cherry fruit. Palette was tart and thin. Nothing actually *wrong* with it, but lacks any real body at all (Lucian Holland, UK)

04/01 Anselmi San Vicenzo 1999 IGT Veneto
There's an attractive smokiness to the nose, and the fresh, creamy, herby palate shows savoury, grapey fruit. Nicely balanced and with a beguiling complexity that makes me want to try his more serious single vineyard bottling. Very good/excellent (£8.50 Fortnum and Mason) (Jamie Goode, UK)

04/01 Morellino di Scansano, la Pupille, 1999
Nothing wrong with this but it does did not seem to have the impact I remembered from my first tasting. There was a bit of funk but the beef I had enjoyed seemed to have gone. Could it be closed? £7.50 Wine Society (CharlesA, UK)

04/01 Zenato Ripassa 1997
Oh dear! I loved this last time when it was all rich fruit with chocolate but this bottle showed some oak, oak I hate it! Of course Rioja, that's another story! Bottoms Up £7.99. (CharlesA, UK)

04/01 1997 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 'Asinone', Poliziano
A ripe, rich and rewarding wine that deserves a better audience than me. I found it over-ripe and teetering on the edge of chronic alcoholism, but reckon it's a great example of the style, mostly dusty fruit, overlaid with sweet spice (sandalwood being a descriptor suggested) rich, elegant, characterised by ripe tannins and acid, with well judged wine-making that does not upset it too much in terms of balance , and with a bright future ahead. Nice wine, but not my style. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

04/01 Anselmi 1999 'Capitel Foscarino'
Displaying a rich, layered and complex nose of shelled nuts, restrained fruit, minerals and loads more, with a refreshing balance and some real heft on the palate leading onto a slightly smoky finish rounded off with ripe fruit. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

04/01 1995 Le Pergole Torte, Chianti, Montevertino
Colour is good and nose is oaky. In the mouth chunky spicy and tannic. (Dave Sansom, UK)

03/01 1997 Chianti Classico Riserva, 'Vigna de Sorbo', Fontodi
Very youthful and packed with fruit and a fair whallop of oak, this has a nice nose that veers dangerously towards being too bretty, and finally walks off the cliff after an hour of airing, showing little but an unwiped dog's backside. Otherwise, fairly well balanced yet quite thick with flavour, and more Chianti like than their normal, non vineyard designated bottling, with some plum powder on the finish. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

03/01 1982 Chianti Classico Riserva, 'del Poggio', Monsanto
Oh yeah, very enticing nose of resolved poo with chopped almonds and bloody chicken liver, on top of a real core of ripe, sweet fruit, and some real silkiness in the mouth despite the presence of an acid kick and a dry finish. This died rather quickly in the glass, which makes me suspect that most bottles should be drunk up, and rightly so, because it's offering a lot of pleasure right now, and works superbly with un-fussy food like rare lamb. Really yummy wine. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

03/01 1990 Sangioveto, Badia a Coltibuono
A super-ripe nose of fresh cherries, plums and damson jam, this had some noticeable alcohol for me, but enough to detract from the forward, brazen pleasure of gobs of hedonism making their down my gullet. A bit too chunky, and needs time to come together some more, although I doubt that this will ever be a truly graceful and resolved wine – it seems to content itself with Pokemon-sized packets of flavour wrapped up in tannin and acid. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

03/01 1990 Brunello di Montalcino, Argiano
There is so much ripe fruit on this baby that Nick's comment about comparing to a Southern Rhone does not really go amiss – very ripe, sunshine-y fruit without being jammy, lots of wood and coffee on this (not necessarily a result of oak), but roasted is perhaps the best descriptor one could come up with for this wine, and stuffed to the brim with a lot of flavour. Very ripe tannins and acid, this does dry out a bit on the finish. Another yummy wine. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

03/01 1994 Dal Forno 'Nettare'
Rare as rare can be, really, made in the passito fashion with Garganega and Trebbiano, this has the curious grape-y nose that hit me with Maculan Torcolato, but with more of a citrus component this time. Lovely sweet, and a change from the usual, this worked well with my dessert and was still a joy on its own. Another wine that I liked very much tonight. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

03/01 Aldo Vajra Langhe Bianco 1998
Beautiful deep golden colour. Juicy, juicy nose of really classy and delicious-smelling fruit - melons, guava, hints of beeswax. Tropical but focussed. Great palate that swoops through some beautifully rich and opulent sweet fruit but tightens up at the end with a lemon-squirt of dry acidity. Concentrated and long with it. But fundamentally a little expensive!! (Joel Hopwood, UK)

03/01 Conterno-Fantino's Dolcetto D'Alba "Bricco Bastia" 1998 (£10.95)
C-F are a noted modernist producer making 2 Barolo crus, the Sori Ginestra and the Vigna del Gris. Also Monpra, a barrique-aged Nebbiolo/Barbera blend. This Dolcetto has a beautiful magenta colour, a great nose of sour, sappy fruit and a lot of sediment. Vibrant and concentrated on the palate. Not a lot of complexity, but Dolcetto is not about complexity really, but power and raciness. Lots of acidity. I would say drink now to 2007. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

Deep dense colour with a nose of fruit and oak. In the mouth the initial astringency disappears within seconds to reveal a smoothly integrated little number; almonds, tea, cedar, prunes and blackcurrants. Finish shows gripping fruit with cedar showing through, possibly needs more time. Very nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

Vibrant colour with boiled sweet nose. Berry flavours in the mouth, tannins are a little harsh. Finish is slightly metallic but with clinging tannins - too young? Nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

03/01 Allegrini La Poja 1993
On decanting, this wasn't giving much away on the nose, but there was an aroma of dark, black cherry fruit and saddle leather...nice. In the glass it developed considerably over an hour and a half, showing a really gorgeous nose of zin-like fruit and, with time, a beatiful aroma and flavour of raspberry. I can see why Robert Parker described this as a hypothetical blend of Sangiovese and Pinot Noir. Low acidity and tannin, and seamless (ie you couldn't taste it) oak. Thick and velvety - long. BUT, not enough complexity for the price, IMHO (Joel Hopwood, UK)

02/01 1997 Chianti Classico Riserva, Fontodi
Wow. This has got too much fruit, not to mention colour;-) A ripe, full Chianti with lots of sweet black cherries on the palate and a pleasing acid base on which everything seems pretty well-balanced, and eminently drinkable as well as being a food wine. The tannins I thought were atypical of Chianti (finer than I expected), but it didn't show quite like this the last time I had it. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

02/01 1991 Vin Santo, Villa Branca
I found this a bit simple, but it was pleasant enough to knock back a glass or two of. The nose I can only describe as plastic sheeting, dried fruit and oxidation with chunks of fossilised honey thrown in for good measure. There is a reason why I don't drink Vin Santo;-) But thanks to Robert for bringing it – it was certainly interesting and appropriate. (Yixin Ong, UK/Singapore)

02/01 Librandi Ciro Riserva Duca Sanfelice '95
Only a faint hint of the estery thing that the regular Ciro has tons of. Rich red/black fruit aromas that develop with time, and a hint of something darker (tar?). Lovely youthful fruit on the palate (not at all jammy), an edge of almondy bitterness, lots of fine tannins, and very nice acidity. V. good/excellent. Could do with another 2-5? years for the tannins to soften but excellent with amertriciana now. Well worth the equivalent of 11 quid paid recently. (Jon Wood, USA)

02/01 Saint Jurosa 1998, Lis Neris, Alvaro Pecorari
I've enjoyed other bottlings of Chardonnay from Pecorari, and this is his impressive top effort. A yellow/golden colour, this has an almost breathtaking nose of toasty, nutty new oak and ripe, savoury fruit. The palate is classy, with good concentration, lean fruit and plenty of oak. However, although you'd certainly classify this wine as oak-driven, the oaking is very sophisticated and is brilliantly integrated. Very good/excellent (Jamie Goode, UK)

02/01 1994 Barolo Bric del Fiasc - Paulo Scavino
Youthful appearance with just a tinge of brick-red near the rim. Complex nose of damsons, roses, vanilla, leather and liquorice. Complex flavours too - damsons,vanilla and liquorice - supported by pronounced but not overpowering tannins. Long. A good partner to a highly-flavoured dish of pasta with meatballs. (Trevor March, UK)

01/01 Dolcetto di Dogliano, Vigna Sori San Martino, 1997 Francesco Boschis
I had wanted to ty the Vigna Prey 1999 but ended up coming home with this instead. Very sour and dry, hints of good fruit but not so well balanced at the moment. (Charles Adams, UK)

01/01 Dolcetto d'Alba, 1999 Enzo Boglietti
Good fruit and fresh acidity, nice sour cherry, full mouth feel. Holds together well after extended breathing. Pretty much what you want from a fruity Italian to drink with food. Also had Boglietti's 1999 Barbera d'Alba which is more full bodied with subtly differnet aromas. I like them both but the Dolcetto is easier going for everyday drinking, the Barbera would probably keep and may become more interesting. (Charles Adams, UK)

01/01 Morellino di Scansano, 1997 Val delle Rose
Very fruity chianti style with sharp acidity, OK but does not have that extra meaty dimension of a la Pupille. (Charles Adams, UK)

01/01 Valpolicella Classico, 1999 Allegrini
pleasant light fruity wine with interesting bouquet that goes very well with pizza but on its own develops a slightly dirty aftertaste. For me a bit too lightweight to be really interesting. (Charles Adams, UK)

01/01 Valpolicella Ripassa 1997 Zenato
really intense bright cherry fruit with raisin and chocolate. Much more depth and length than a standard Valpolicella. This is rich enough for me, I am not sure I need to make to the step up to Amarone. (Charles Adams, UK)

01/01 Agno Casto, Pinot Bianco, 1999
Golden yellow in colour. aroma of oak/lanolin. Very chewy with strange pine (retsina) taste. (Mark Robertson, UK)

01/01 Isole e Olena Collezione di Marchi 1995
Magnificent complex bouquet of black fruits, spice and cedar. Very Cab Sauv, yet also distinctively Italian. Dark and intense appearance with some signs of ageing around the rim. Taste lives up to sight and smell. Tons of black fruit, lots of grip and very, very long. Still quite tannic, but fine with strong-flavoured food (Trevor March, UK)

12/00 Il Rosso di Enrico Vallania, "Cuvee" 1995, Vigneto delle Terre Rosse
The colour is a dark ruby red. Initially the nose has a whiff of cordite, almost like black pepper/gunsmoke. Over the vourse of 2 hours the wine develops beautifully - there is a huge crushed berry fruit nose, with elements of cedarwood and liquorice. The nose is "soaring" or "explosive", but is very concentrated. In the mouth, the wine's real character revelas itself. 5 years of bottle age have integrated the acidity and tannins, but this has plenty in reserve. The wine is very supple - very concentrated, but balanced and classy, too. The lack of oak (when you know about it!) manifests itself ina wonderful sense of purity. Pure, almost fresh fruit with none of that confected chocolate or coffee bean character that mars so many modern Italian reds. Excellent stuff. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

12/00 Morellino di Scansano 1999 (le Pupille)
This is made from sangiovese aged in stainless steel and bottled with a sangiovese coloured plastic cork, so it probably never sees any wood. A slightly industrial odour on opening soon disappeared leaving a deliciously unusual fruit, bacon and vanilla combination. The half decanted and sealed overnight developed even more wild cooked beef aromas. The palate is well structured with plenty of fresh red fruits, noticeable acidity and tannins. The wine is complex and entertaining now but should develop nicely up to 2005. I bought enough to keep me going because at 7.50 from The Wine Society it is a bargain. (Charles A, UK)

10/00 Vintage Tunina 1999, Silvio Jermann
One of Jermann's premium wines from Venezia-Giulia. An interesting wine, it comes from a single vineyard, but unsually this vineyard is planted with mixed blocks of 5 grape varieties - Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malvasia, Picolit and Ribolla Gialla. Aged in old oak for 6 months. Very pale straw colour. Very fresh nose of citrus fruits, lemon peel, but with an almost candied quality. lots of floral notes, and a touch of white pepper / spice that reminds one of Alsace. In the mouth, it has very good weight and texture, with notes of cream. Concentrated, and very long indeed - goes mineral on the finish. Conclusion - an excellent VT - all the components are there, but nowhere near ready to drink (Joel Hopwood, UK) .

10/00 Uggiano (Italy) Chianti Riserva 1995
This was a lovely, juicy, sweet smelling, beautifully balanced 12.5% alcohol wine plucked from Morrisons flat rack selection for £7.49. I don't know anything clever about Chianti and all I can say is that this was nice for the price, which is about all one can hope for in these days of sameness and conformity. (Daron Fincham, UK)

10/00 Terre del Barolo (Italy) Barolo "Monvigliero" Riserva 1990
Bought this a couple of years ago when Tesco's did a 20% off anything deal. This brought the cost down to £12 from £16 for a wine from a highly rated vintage year. Well I should have bought more - it was wonderful! Pale colour but the initial scent on pouring! - rosewater or what?! A beautiful complex bouquet and a sinewy palate with a touch of sweetness before the characteristic astringency signing off. 14% abv. (Daron Fincham, UK)

10/00 Cervaro della Sala, Antinori 1998 IGT Umbria
A new one for me, a blend of Chardonnay and Grechetto (about 15% according to the sommelier) .A beautifully balanced wine with aromas of tropical fruit. It spends 5 months in new oak barrels but the wood did not overpower the impressive fruit. Drunk atStefano Cavallini Restaurant at the Halkin Hotel, Belgravia the wine accompanied an open ravioli with poached scallops in a buttery ginger sauce and langoustines with asparagus and a shellfish vinaigrette and was a perfect match for the delicate flavours of the food. The 1997 is available at Valvona & Crolla at £27.95 a bottle. (Mark Robertson, UK)

10/00 Chianti Classico Riserva 1996, Fattoria Le Fonti
Dark saturated red. Ripe cherry and oak flavours intermingle, red ripe bell pepper and quite a powerful, verging on spicy nose. Sweet fruit (alomost too sweet, one protests), coarse tannin, some heat, well integrated acid lending lift and brightness, nice heft, balanced, good weighty finish. Bit too ripe though. (Yixin Ong, UK)

10/00 Pieropan Soave Classico Superiore 1999 (£8.49)
The first bottle I had was perfectly sound, but didn't blow me away. The second and third were much more fulfilling, as I attuned my palate to this most subtle of white wines. Nose nutty, slightly rich, palate elegant, ripe, very well balanced and modertaely long. Pure finish with medium acidity. Very good winemaking - not a single harsh note or flaw of any kind. I wonder what age will do to it? (Joel Hopwood, UK)

10/00 Pieropan Soave Cl Sup La Rocca 1998 (£13.99)
From a single vineyard, and aged in 500l oak casks. Took much longer to open up, nose richer, no discernible oak, (like Vintage Tunina) just fuller, more powerful, incredible palate and finish. Layers of citrus fruits. Long, mineral finish. Apparently ages well for 10-15 years in good vintages. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

09/00 A Mano Primitivo 1999. Sainsbury £5.99
High praise from several pundits. I just don't get it. I found the A Mano spicy certainly and with very dry tannin, but otherwise the nose was muted with no detectable fruit (perhaps the "bubblegum" scent you get with Beaujolais) and a rather dull flavour. A typically cheap Italian wine. (Daron Fincham, UK)

09/00 Giacomo Borgogno, Barolo Riserva, 1990
Brownish (would brick/amber be the prefered descriptor? :-)), though with a little more volume in the glass seemed deep red!!? An amazing nose, I would have said mature burgundy, meaty, raisiny, slightly sweet smell - very attractive. Though thick 'legs' on the glass, not as 'thick' in the mouth. Very smooth through the mid-palate with a quite long almost spicy finish. Quite high acidity, but not to the wines detriment. Definitely worth a try. (Bill Nanson - UK)

08/00 Fonterutoli, "Concerto" Vino da Tavola 1994
A blend of 80% Sangiovese from the Siepi and Fonterutoli vineyards, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in small oak barriques for 12 months. The colour is a dense, dark ruby, with think legs. There's a very slight lightening at the rim, but otherwise this is looking very youthful. The nose was a real knockout blast of sweet-sour morello cherry fruit, with that simmering, super-ripe edge of chamois leather and spices. Immediately good. In the mouth the wine is just huge, with tons of fruit and very penetrating acidity. Long and concentrated, and again a real mouthpuckering finish as the acidity comes to the fore again. Food is essential, at least at this young stage. After an hour or so, the wine closed down rather a lot (I've read about this happening, but never encountered it as clearly as this), and became more sullen and brutish in character. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

07/00 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 1997
Appearance: dark but clear black red
Aroma: full cherry
Palate: a bit grainy (tannic) at first but not rough, good acidity that compliments all types of food (I drank it with stir fry, chocolate, and pasta the following evening, great every time). Overall very drinkable with some subtle nuances that make it a cut above the usual chianti. I bought more! (Charles, UK)

07/00 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico 1997
Appearance: black purple red, more opaque that the Fonterutoli.
Aroma: stunning, toasty oak and raspberry, superb bouquet!
Palate: good berry fruit, fuller and richer than the Fonterutoli (it is 0.5% higher in alcohol), slightly heavy for me, try again in another year or so. (Charles, UK)

06/00 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigna del Fiore 1983, Fattoria dei Barbi
I can now claim to have had three vintages of this, which is ridiculously esoteric :) 1983 is described as variable (for Tuscany) by Broadbent, 2-4 stars, and "deep, ripe firm and delicious" (for Brunello) by Wine Spectator. Gambero Rosso gives it 4 stars. The cuvee is the single-vineyard version of Barbi's Riserva - I posted a TN on the 1982 a few weeks back. The appearance was a rich, deep red-brown, much darker than the 1982. The nose was very rich and ripe, with plenty of young leather, spices, earth and surpisingly "bright" red fruits. Some cigar box notes, too. I really would love to serve a good mature Brunello blind, 'cos on these notes it could be any number of wines! Reminds me of that fantastic note in Tom's archive on the Vega Sicilia Unico 1970... "Guess? Lynch-Bages 1990". :-) The palate was more classically Sangiovese, with a predominant flavour of bitter-cherry brandy, broad and mouthfilling, and the fruit having a wonderful savoury fullness. Superb. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

05/00 Masi Valpolicella Classico Superiore, 1998
Medium purple colour. Lightly fragrant nose with hints of vanilla and raspberries + cream. Light bodied with creamy raspberries on the front and mid palates, but a rather disappointing finish. Nice with a light pasta dish. (Graham Simpson - UK)

05/00 Barolo, Vigna Giachini 1993, Corino
A: Very dense, deep red, almost black in colour.
N: Hot tar and earthy aromas with hints of mint and brambles.
P: Mouthfilling flavours of treacle and toast. Secondary flavours of mocha, redcurrants and raspberries, followed up by a spicy finish with dry tannins and alcoholic burn.
S: This Barolo is quite restrained but a good example from an average vintage. Now - 2005. (Paul Anderson - UK)

05/00 Dolcetto d'Alba 1996, Clerico
A: Very deep, opaque purple colour.
N: Initially blackcurrants and violets, followed by whiffs of treacle and chocolate.
P: Bitter, dry raspberry flavours at first then redcurrants and loganberries on the mid-palate. Explodes into a dual layered finish of ripe tannins and spices.
S: This is a very good, savoury and complex wine with a good balance for medium term keeping. Now - 2005. (Paul Anderson - UK)

03/00 Fattoria dei Nittardi Chianti Classico Riserva 1995, £22.50
I just *love* good chianti - the best I've had before this was the Castello di Fonterutoli '95, which is a fantastic wine, and I was really looking forward to seeing how this compared. I decanted it at about 4pm. The nose took half an hour to wake up, and then went ballistic. People could actually smell it from outside the room! Deep red / dark magenta colour. No rim. A stunning "bi-level" nose. Crushed berry smells, red and black fruits all over the place, and a really lovely "sub-level" of lurking spice, burnt vanilla richness and intriguing and more-ish complexity. On the palate, a soft weighty fruit attack, with plenty of spice and barnyard. A finish that seemed to build in length and complexity the more one tasted. A great wine that doesn't compromise a uniquely Tuscan style. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate 1994, £36.75
I have never understood why Barolo is always considered to be the king of Italian wine, because I've always found Sangiovese so much more able to give of its best at every quality level. Just as in the Cote D'Or, Piedmont is a total minefield where it is perfectly possible (even usual) to spend £20 on a completely unsatisfying wine. Voerzio is one of the best modernist producers, lauded by both Parker and Nicholas Belfrage's new book. He has three vineyards, La Serra, Brunate and Cerequio which produce minute quantities of wine each year. As it happens, the Brunate vineyard's crop was destroyed by a hailstorm in 1995, so this is the last release before the "vintage-of-the-century" 1996 comes out. (In Piedmont, 96 rather than 97 is thought to be the better vintage. 97 is atypically lush and low-acid, but still great). The colour was a medium red-brown as you would expect. The nose was dumb on decanting at 4pm, building slowly up to approachability at about 9pm. Classic aromas of melting tar and violets, also lots of figs on the nose, and rich chamois leather. Also caramel/toffee and muscovado sugar. Pretty complex then! The palate was lighter than we expected, medium weight and beatifully delineated and focussed. Very fine finish, totally perfect balance. A Barolo which emphasises finesse, concentration and balance rather than gutsy power - and I like it all the more for that. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva "Vigna del Fiore" 1982, £82.00
Here's a wine that is no stranger to silly prices - Barbi's single vineyard Brunello Riserva. I've actually tried this once before - we had the 1988 vintage at home on Christmas day, and it was nowhere near ready, needing I'd guess another 5 years to start showing some of its eventual complexity. On decanting at 4pm, I was ashen-mouthed at the tawny colour and stinky, sherry like smell. But I"ve had this with old Brunello before, and just stuck it into a decanter thinking that it would do its own thing in its own damn time. And it did :) Incidentally this bottle had one of the longest, finest corks I've come across.

Drunk at about 10pm, it had in the decanter the most beautiful colour of any wine I've ever seen - rich mahogany core and light brown reddish edge. The nose was fully developed - sweet, rich smells of figs, caramel and old leather. Classic aged Brunello. Rich fruit core, but savoury, reminding me a bit of the Pesquera '85. Tiny hint of sherry lurking in the background (nicely). Very complex - I think this is the best nose of any wine I've tried. I've just had a sniff of the empty decanter, which is still offering a strong leather, sherry and cigar-box smell. Totally alluring. The palate was gentle, mellow and mature. If you're talking objective degrees off perfection, then it was *just* too soft/gentle to live up to the promise of the nose. Very long and fine, with a very intriguing balance (or should I say balancing act) between the faintly madeirised edge and the developed mature fruit. Mind boggling concentration - we were all still enjoying it with about 5ml left in our glasses. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Inama Soave Classico Superiore "Vin Soave" 1997 £9.75
This is a Soave made in a traditional style by a top class producer. I recently found out that Anselmi, one of the biggest names in Soave for both quality and commercial success, will no longer be bottling any of his wine as DOC Soave! Apparently this is because he wishes to add more Chardonnay to the blend than is permissible (the limit at the moment is 30%). This is really disappointing because all the character is disappearing from his (Anselmi's) wines. If I want a clean, light Chardonnay then I'll buy one. I buy Soave because of the great character and unique fruit of the Garganega grape - which brings us to Inama. 100% Garganega, this unoaked Soave shows a pear-skin nose with hints of toffee and banana (bottle-age?). The palate is medium weight and balanced, with some acidity and a really attractive almost burnt-fruit, spiced pear edge. This is drinking really nicely, and is a benchmark wine for the region. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Taurasi, Feudi di San Gregorio 1995
This is made from the unusual aglianico grape which likes the volcanic soils inland from Naples. Colour, clear deep dark reddish. Nose, warm leather with some volatile alcohol. Palate smooth and full, with hints of dark cherries and some sweetness, a phenomenally long finish, "intriguing layers of flavour" as Jancis Robinson wrote in the FT. Completely unlike any other wine I have tried, and positively begs you to keep coming back for more. May improve, I bought another bottle to keep. Currently 13.99 at Oddbins. Would be interested to hear other views on Taurasi. (Charles Adams - UK)

02/00 Marsala Superiore DOC Secco NV, Carlo Pellegrino & C. S.p.A.
The colour is diluted treacle or PX, both misleading about the sweetness! The nose has the expected alcoholic "grunt", backed by nut toffee. It really is dry (completely so), with an interesting combination of raisins and nuts (but not toffee!) and a lingering if slightly hot and dry finish. I found it very more-ish (Bernard Leak - UK)

02/00 Chianti Classico Il Tarocco 1997
Delicious and moreish. Good young crimson colour. Smoke, blackcurrant, plum, cherry swirl around in a beautiful melange of drink-me ripeness. Lovely stuff that slips down a treat. Good acid backbone, but not out of balance with fruit. Very harmonious. Superb in fact! (Paul Armstrong - UK)