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Vinitaly 2003 - Report

by Andy Cook

An Overview

Quality remains as disparate as ever. Although fewer wines were 'badly made' (i.e. poor vinicultural practice), many were just unexciting. I felt that certain DOC(G)s producers have lost their way a little as modern practices - and the winemaker's sense of adventure - sometimes result in an atypical or unbalanced expression of a grape variety or regional style. It was mostly the wineries which are already established as first class who have continued to lead the way, although there were a few undiscovered gems around too.

Tuscany is definitely at the top of the pile as far as quality is concerned. Some truly stunning wines expressed a bold regional style, with intelligent winemaking and a respect for tradition.

 

In the wines from Piedmont I struggled to find wines that retained individuality whilst allowing easy and instant drinking pleasure. Many Barberas where more interesting than Barolos, although the range of styles was huge. The North-East (Veneto, Soave, Fruili, Isonzo, Colli Orientali, Alto Adige) has some very high quality whites and reds, but there is a worrying trend to late harvest, high extraction and maceration. Where the wines are well-made in this style there are some really superb offerings, but many seem just too New World in style. A final word for David Gleave of Liberty Wines; if money is no object, the fantastic range of wines he has amassed in his portfolio is, almost without exception, first class.

Veneto - Lombardy - Piedmont - Friuli - Alto Adige - Campania - Sicily
Tuscany - Emilia Romana - the Marches

Tasting notes describe the overall quality of a wine, but for wines that exceed expectations I have added a star rating:

 
a wine that is very well made and offers great value
 
a wine that is superbly made and offers great character at any price
 
rare! A truly stunning wine

Note: a wine with no stars is not necessarily a bad wine, and may deliver exactly what is expected vis-à-vis grape variety, region and price.

Veneto

Allegrini (Liberty Wines)
Generally excellent, although I'm not sure they can extract any more from their grapes. For their ripasso they now often use the shrivelled grapes, not must, and I think they may be sacrificing a little typicity. Sexy wines though!

Allegrini Valpolicella 2002 *
Lovely bright berry fruit on nose. Palate has decent grip with weight. Touch of green stalks and bitter chocolate on finish.

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2000 *
Seems to have less Ripasso than before, and has serious weight and extract. Blueberries, and a bitter chocolate finish with tight tannins. V good.

Allegrini La Grola 2000 **
Wow! A big step up. The nose is really rich, hot and enjoyable. Has coffee and stewed plums and the palate is well-structured with super-ripe dark fruits and fine grain tannins. A very well-made wine.

Allegrini La Poja 1999
100% Corvina from small, hilltop site at top of La Grola. A closed, brooding nose with evident alcohol. Seems very young and tannic, with green pip tannins. How long will it take to come round?

Allegrini Amarone 1999 *
Big, fat, sweet nose. Wow! Oak on the palate is reminiscent of bourbon-fill Speyside Malt. So full of attack, but also awesome length. Lots of brambles and expresso. Tannins are very fine, and the finish quite sweet for an Amarone.

Allegrini Villa Giona 2000
50% Cab 40% Merlot 10% Syrah. Very sweet Californian style nose. Merlot comes through mid-palate with sweet, milk chocolate notes and soft fruit. A stylish, soft, attractive effort, worth about £15.

Pieropan (Liberty Wines)
Pure, charming and wonderful. A perfect balance of tradition and innovation. Garganega reigns supreme, and they are experimenting with different clones here. The vineyard sites are all on the steep hills of the Classico area, rather than the very average flat plain sites. La Rocca is stunning - a tiny site high on the hill above the castle. Any fears about the late-harvest tendencies are banished when tasting the wines with bottle age. 2002 was a difficult year in Soave with yields for 40% down on 2001. The extra malic acid in the wines has actually made then more aromatic. They had to buy in some grapes in this vintage.

Pieropan Soave Classico 2002 *
A slightly sweaty Falanghina style nose, with musk and orange peel. A touch of spritz on the palate, orange blossom and some spice and apple notes. Quite ripe but bone dry. V nice.

Pieropan Calvarino 2002 Soave Classico Superiore TANK SAMPLE
Lime and honey on nose. A bit hot, and a touch tart out of tank. Softens a bit on the palate, but prickly and giving little away just now.

Pieropan Calvarino 1990 Soave Classico Superiore *
Very pale, with straw,lime and a touch of diesel on the nose.Has a fat, farmyardy side to the palate with good minerals on the finish.

Pieropan Calavarino 1989 Soave Classico Superiore
A bit wet and cabbagey from our bottle, but others tasted different so major bottle variation. Stinky, but with clean citrus carrying it through.

Pieropan La Rocca 2001 Soave Classico Superiore **
Late harvest orange Muscat on nose with an unctuous palate that still retains its floral side, and great citrus acidity. There is an expansive, musky finish. Very classy.

Pieropan La Rocca 1997 Soave Classico Superiore ***
A very dry, ripe year gives over-ripe, mature Chardonnay notes on the nose. The mouthfeel is immediately rich, delicious mouthfeel with petrol notes. Develops a metallic edge with huge tropical fruit - lime and passionfruit. There is an attractive vegetal edge to finish. Classy.

Pieropan La Rocca 1993 Soave Classico Superiore *
Much less tropical fruit than 1997, green acidity and farmyard notes. Gentle, blossom fruit and still very clean despite its age.

Pieropan Recioto Colombare 2000 CASK SAMPLE **
Very ripe nose with strong hazelnut edge. Toffee apples, cinnamon and hazelnuts on palate, but with an amazingly clean and delicate finish. Delicious with biscotti.

Pieropan Recioto Colombare 1988
Coffee beans, mint and apricots on the wonderful notes. Palate is more dried fruit, with slightly toner edge to it. Nice coffeeish finish.

Tedeschi (Hallgarten)
A very good house that retains a somehow Germanic quality (obviously I am influenced by the name). Their wines are in a much more traditional style than Allegrini, but their winery contains some really state-of-the-art technology to achieve this consistently. In the vineyard they are moving away from the Pergola high-training (which they believe only works for grapes intended to be dried) that almost all other Houses use.

Tedeschi Bianco di Custoza 2002
A whole hotch-potch of grape varieties gives a quite perfumed nose with rose petals. Has a bit of bite, generally light with floral notes.

Tedeschi Soave Monte Tenda 2002 *
100% Garganega. A very nice, ripe nose with slightly tropical fruit, a touch late harvest. Complex, with orange peel, apricots and nuts. Bone dry. Will be superb in 3 months.

Tedeschi Valpolicella Capitel Lucchine 2002
Same price as Soave - some cherries and green peppers, a bit too bitter.

Tedeschi Valpolicella Valverde 2002 *
Much richer than above, spicier and full with good structure and dark, bitter finish.

Tedeschi Valpolicella Capitel Nicoloa 2001
Made with grapes dried for 20 days. Concentrated plum skin nose with hints of violets. There is richness mid-palate, but quite a mean finish.

Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco 2000 **
Lovely colour, with a great stinky nose. Good blackberry fruit - clean and sweet. There is great grip and secondary flavours follow through superbly onto good length.

Tedeschi La Fabriseria 2001 *
2.5% Cabernet in this vintage. A rich, modern nose. Great extract and grip on palate with really big structure. Fruit is very sweet and full. Tannins dominate a little just now.

Tedeschi La Fabriseria 2000
Low yields with two green harvests. 5% dried Cabernet in this vintage (kept separate in barrels). Therte is great richness here with straw and coffee notes developing both on the nose and palate. The structure is lovely - disciplined but elegant.

Tedeschi Amarone 2000 CASK SAMPLE
Hot and porty. The tannins are massive and searing (It's 9AM for God's sake) and there is little fruit showing just now, but a huge, huge wine.

Tedeschi Amarone 1999 *
Much more open, with coffee grounds, white pepper and a certain meatiness. There is good skin extract with hefty tannin and already developing mouthfeel.

Tedeschi Amarone Monte Olmi 2000 ** CASK SAMPLE
Already a wonderful and complete nose - very aromatic with violets and lavender. There is a vein of delicious bitter cocoa chocolate running right through, and a real sense of a complete and rounded wine.

Tedeschi Amarone Monte Olmi 1999
Dark roasted fruit on nose. Has closed up and lacks aromatics. Needs time.

Tedeschi Recioto Monte Fontana 2000 CASK SAMPLE *
Very sweet blueberries and blackberries on nose. Very sweet pure fruit and lovely concentration. Sheer hedonism!

Tedeschi Recioto di Soave Fabriseria San Rocco 1999
Lemon and hay on nose. Slightly vegetal. Lightish, and dies away a little. Disappointing.

Lombardy

Nino Negri (Enotria)
The only winery tried from this region - better than ever I think with a nice modern, pure edge.

Nino Negri Sassella 2000 *
Nose bright with green peppers and dusty morello cherries. Palate has dusty spices and good, very dark cherry fruit. There is perfect extract, plenty of tannin and a nice touch of vanilla.

Nino Negri Inferno 2000 *
The nose is much more closed than the Sassella, and there is a real sense of Nebbiolo weightiness with a dark, heavy style. Fruit is stewed but modern on the palate, with dry tannins and again a vanilla tang.

Nino Negri Sfursat 2000
Almost Pinot Noir nose - high-tone but elegant. The palate is very controlled and almost nervy, but creeps up with lots of cherry fruit and a tight, dry finish,

Nino Negri Sfursat 1999
As above, but already some vegetal character in there.

Piedmont

Fontanafredda (Enotria)
A house which, by their own admission, has come on a long way in the last 5 years. There is, however, still some way to go both in the vineyard and in the winery. I think the lower-end wines offer the best value, and I think this is where they are focussing in order to revive public interest in the region.

Fontanafredda Eremo 2000
This Nebbiolo/ Barbera blend has very raspberry fruit on the nose - fresh and juicy. The Barbera seems to dominate, but there is some decent backbone.

Fontanafredda Parpan 2001 *
A hot, characterful Barbera nosewith a rich palate of juicy raspberry fruit and a tight finish with good acidity.

Fontanafredda Marne Brune 2001 Nebbiolo d'Alba
A coffee and spice nose with nice grape tannins on the palate mingling with soft fruit. Nice acidity too.

Fontanafredda Parpagena 2000 Barbera Superiore d'Alba
Good richness and blueberry fruit on nose. Initial palate is blueberries, slightly bushy. Tannins are impressive and in balance with a good ripe finish.

Fontanafredda Bararesco 2000 Coste Rubin *
High-tone nose with floral notes and white pepper. Roasted peppers and some truffle notes with tight, dusty tannins and sweet berry fruits on the finish.

Fontanafredda Barolo 1999 Serralunga
100% French oak now. Smells remarkably accessible with sweet roasted fruit on the nose. The palate fruit is almost raisiny, and the palate has good Barolo basics, but lacks a violety, more complex side.

Collona (seeking agents)
A small house, well run with a definite house style. The Barberas show real class. Currently not available in the UK - could be interesting , nice philosophy (see brochure).

Collona Chardonnay 2000 Piedmonte
Late harvest ripeness on nose - fat and high alcohol, with a lot of fruit. Acidity is correct and the finish lasts well, but it is nothing really exciting.

Collona Sansun 2001 Grignolino di Monferrato Casalese
Bright cherry and rubbery nose. Light Gamay fruit, but the grip is huge and becomes overbearing and prickly towards the end.

Collona La Rossa 2001 Barbera del Monferrato £8.99?
Wet, brambles and hedges on the nose. Fruit is nicely soft, but quite dark too. Very soft acidity for Barbera, but some nice gentle tannin.

Collona Alessandra 2000 Barbera del Monferrato Superiore * £14.99?
Sweet cassis nose, quite complex. Nice mouthfeel with modern blackcurrant fruit and a very nice grip of modern oak with good, sweet fruit and length.

Collona Mondone 1999 Monferrato Rosso * £14.99?
A very full, serious nose with attractive flinty, minerally notes. Plums on cherry notes in the mouth give way to quite hefty tannins in a big flavour spectrum. Rather nice and modern.

Collona Cabernet Sauvignon Amani 2000 Monferrato Rosso *
Very nice balance, not over extracted. Full of secondary flavours rather than jammy fruit, with a nice balance of spicy oak. Length is good, neither too big or too tight.

Collona Pinot Noir 2000 Monferrato Rosso
Californian Sweet Nose, without the alcohol. Palate seems a little dry (those N Italian bitters don't go well with Pinot) but it is quite classy.

Teo Costa (seeking agents)
Strange house - they have very modern presentation, Point of Sale material, etc. and a very flashy Italian style. Some of the wines were good though.

Teo Costa Lamiana Roero Arneis 2002
Good extract and nice sweet lychee fruit with white blossom on the finish.

Teo Costa Sanmicè 2000 Barbera d'Alba * 4 euro ex cellar
A lot of tannin giving nice spice and grip. Fruit is dark berry and impressive. A good, old-fashioned wine with big, hefty mouthfeel and nice length.

Teo Costa Castellinaldo 1999 Barbera d'Alba * 12 euro ex cellar
Very silky and jammy with a great big Barbera bite on the mid-palate. Finish has metals and minerals with a continuation of rich, sweet fruit. Good label too!

Teo Costa Barbaresco 1999 15 euro ex cellar
Feminine Barbaresco nose. Combines clean, ripe fruit with spice and a touch of flowers. Has a certain minerality and nice grip at the end.

Teo Costa Montroj 1999 Barolo * 18 euro ex cellar
Stinky, powerful nose. Has ink, pepper, salami with very spiced baked fruit. Length is superb, tannins are powerful but not overpowering.

Fruili

Vie di Romans (Liberty Wines)
These wines are superb; the skill in the winery stunning - rarely have I tried wines with consistently so much poise and style. A deft touch from vine to bottle produces wines that are so exquisitely subtle and complex that they should be reserved for those who can appreciate them!

Vie di Romans Campagnis Vieris Chardonnay 2001 Fruili Isonzo ** £20?
Very complex nose. Unoaked but very rich with dark colour. Has chalk notes, soft spice, rich mouthfeel. Plenty of mouthfeel anf ripe stone fruits with impeccable balance.

Vie di Romans Piere Sauvignon 2001 Fruili Isonzo £15-20?
Nose lacks the Sauvignon bite I like, and the fruit is soft on the palate ,but still very attractive.

Vie di Romans Chardonnay 2001 Fruili Isonzo ** £20?
A very nice wine - refined and balanced like fine Burgundy. The oak is light and deft with some many subtle flavours going on, and perfect tannin and fruit integration. Mouthfeel is superb too.

Vie di Romans Vieris Sauvignon 2001 Fruili Isonzo ** £20?
An oaked Sauvignon that I like! Development of flavour through palate is awesome, with peach stones and caramel moving to minerals, acidity on finish. Superb mouthfeel again.

Vie di Romans Pinot Grigio Dessimis 2001 Fruili Isonzo *** £20?
Very compelling, integrated nose - so complex. Fantastic oak, lifts the whole wine rather than dumbing it. Lychees, roses, sligthtly late harvest rich mouthfeel, boundless length. Truly stunning!

Vie di Romans Flors di Uis 2001 Fruili Isonzo ** £20?
Malvasia/ Riesling/ Tocai Fruiliano. Very perfumed Gewurz style noe. Palate has unexpected grip which reins in the tropical fruit and rose petal notes. There is a rich, leesy mouthfeel and fragrant, aromatic length.

Vie di Romans Maurus 2000 Fruili Isonzo £20? **
100% Merlot gives a very complex wine. A big nose with dark fruit, shoe polish, licorice. Palate has a vast spectrum of flavours, but is never overblown and retains good tannins to the finish.

Specogna (Liberty Wines]
As idiosyncratic and fine as ever!

Specogna Tocai Fruiliano 2002 Colli Orientali TANK SAMPLE
A very Sauvignon nose with hints of smoked meats. Quite harsh out of tank, with high tones. Length is good and extraction is impressive - needs time.

Specogna Pinot Grigio 2002 Venezia Giulia * TANK SAMPLE
Very meaty with rich orange marmelade notes. Palate is well-extracted but taught and has a touch of prickle just now. Should be sexy…

Arcano (Hallgarten)
Pretty dreadful wines, many of them sulphurous, with a bitter malic quality in both reds and whites.

Alto Adige

Franz Haas (Liberty Wines)
Very reliable, with a nice delicate style of Pinot Grigio when many are turning to a bigger style.

Franz Haas Pinot Grigio 2002 *
Soft and floral but with good bite on finish. Should be very attractive and elegant in 3 months or so.

Franz Haas Pinot Bianco 2002
Very ripe nose for PB. Palate has melons and is slightly soapy. Seems to be missing something mid-palate, is young but is already fat, and light on the finish.

Franz Haas Traminer Aromatico 2002 ** £11.99?
Nose is caramely and smoky, quite individual. Palate has a lovely combination of aromatic elegance and ripe power. Very nice, with blossom, peachy musk and toffeed fruit, lovely length too.

Franz Haas Pinot Nero 2001 ** Now £19.99!
Superb. Very juicy nose. Palate is delicious - more restrained than nose suggests, with dusty, chalky tannins. Ripe but well-structured wild raspberry fruit. An intelligent wine.

Franz Haas Lagrein 2001 *
Shitty nose, with bitter chocolate notes and some black cherry fruit. Some earthy notes, and tight, gravely mouthfeel.

Franz Haas Istante 2000 £17.99?
Merlot/ Cab. Green tannins and high acidity backed by rich fruit, but still quite tight. Not sure…

Franz Haas Moscato Rosa 37.5cl £16.99!
Delicate rose petals, cherries, slightly medicinal. A touch of tannin at end. Expensive.

Cantarutti (seeking agents)
The most interesting of the wineries seeking agents. A brand new winery built last year with new French oak casks and all their own vineyards. They frequently declassify when not satisfied with quality, and have good labelling.

Cantarutti Canto 2002 TANK SAMPLE £6.99?
50% Tocai Fruiliano 30% Sauv. 20% Pinot Bianco. Nose is aromatic, Sauvignon style. Quite prickly just now, but with good extraction and depth of flavour already. Bright, clean, aromatic flavours.

Cantarutti Pinot Grigio 2002 Grave TANK SAMPLE £5.99?
Again, quite delineated considering its from tank. Light style, not tropical, with a touch of muskiness.

Cantarutti Pinot Grigio 2002 Collio Orientali * TANK SAMPLE £6.99?
Immediately richer than the above, with more tropical nose. On palate, nice peach skins and roses. Good.

Cantarutti Tocai Fruiliano 2002 Collio Orientali TANK SAMPLE
Oranges, melons, plenty of fruit. Already bursting out of the glass

Cantarutti Pinot Nero 1999 Colli Orientali * £8.99?
Very nice nose, with plenty of fruit and some asphalt and capiscum. Lovely mouthfeel, a touch hot with rich, coating tannins and a good bitter finish to the fruit. Good! Shares a funky label with the P Grigio Collio.

Cantarutti Merlot 1999 Colli Orientali
French Barrique aged - 50% new. Leafy, brambley Merlot with bitter chocolate and good mouthfeel. A touch hot, but well-made.

Cantarutti Poema 1998 Collio Rosso £12.99?
Merlot/ Cab Franc/ Schioppetino/ Tazzo?? Hot stinky nose with a volatile, black pepper palate and very tight tannins. Not sure it will ever balance out.

Cantarutti Schioppettino 1999 ** Colli Fruili
Violets, heady lavender and white pepper on nose. Superb! Like Lacrima from Umani Ronchi, but with more complexity and balance. Extract, tannin and length are great with pure violet notes. Very individual.

Campania

Mastroberardino
A great winery, who have not erred from producing traditional, understated whites of great purity.

Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo 2002
Too yound to have gathered richness, but the musky, sweaty feel is there with some nice bite and bitter hazelnuts on finish. 6 months will bring it all out.

Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino 2002 *
Has a nice musky richness already with a good, ripe, lime acidity that lifts the whole wine. Will flesh out.

Mastroberardino Falanghina 2002 *
Nice ripe peaches and tropical aromas. Palate is soft with honey and lavender notes, leading to a soft finish with less acidity than the other wines.

I Feudi
A very modern style which doesn't show well in these young wines. The winemaking methods seem to overpower these delicate varietals. Pear drops dominate on the palate.

I Feudi Falanghina 2002
More open than the Mastroberardino with opulent fruit (apricot stones), but dies away.

I Feudi Fiano di Avellino 2002
Again, more expansive style with honey and a touch of nail polish. Pear drops on finish.

I Feudi Greco di Tufo 2002
A touch of spiced apples, but confected pear drop flavours dominate.

I Feudi Chardonnay Ognissole 2002
Whole bunch fermentation evident, with just a hint of Chardonnay richness.

Sicily

Planeta Wines (Enotria)
Really great house style and leagues ahead of anyone else. The wines have, if anything, become a little more restrained, and are showing both varietal and regional characterstics with great flair.

Planeta La Segreta Bianco 2002 *
Greciano/ Chardonnay/ Viognier/ Sauvignon. Deliciously moreish - Floral, honeysuckle nose with red fruits. Palate has juicy berries and plenty of aromatics - fun and fruity!

Planeta Alastro 2002
Greciano/ Chardonnay. The oak currently masks the aromatics, and the wine seems less exciting just now than the exuberant La Segreta.

Planeta Chardonnay 2001
Butterscotch on nose, with less of the huge tropical fruit than before. Palate is loose already with plenty of accessible charm - marmelade and supple tannins on finish.

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2002 *
White pepper on nose. Palate has pepper too, with lots of bright cherry fruit, minerals and earthiness. Full of character and style.

Planeta La Segreta 2002
Nero d'Avola / Merlot/ Syrah. Quite complex nose - Cerasuolo plus hot Syrah fruit. Palate is initially soft berries then suddenly grip and a long, hot finish with cocoa flavours.

Planeta Syrah 2001 *
Very nice dark, complex fruits on nose with leather. Slightly burnt fruit, touch of VA, earthiness moves to a rounded, voluptuous finish.

Planeta Merlot 2001 **
Combines rich, chocolatey Merlot with rustic Sicilian charm. A big wine with plenty going on - tannins at the end are superb, rich and mouthfilling.

Planeta Santa Cecilia 2001 **
Volatile and leafy nose with stewed fruit. Palate is hot, with cassis leaf and formidable, dry, peppery tannins and a bitter coffee bean finish. One to watch.

Planeta Burdese 2001 Cabernet * CASK SAMPLE
Dark, coffee, cocoa-dusted nose Cabernet. Palate has dark berries, ink and assertive tannins with length starting to develop.

Villa Tonino (Liberty Wines)

Villa Tonino Nero d'Avola 2001 *
Nose has very fresh fruit and violets. Palate has some grip, is quite dense with a good fruit sweetness on the finish. Good value.

Villa Tonino Nero d'Avola Baglio Curatolo 2001
A bigger wine - rich and ripe with plenty of spicy fruit. Again sweet berries on palate - quite modern.

Tuscany

Cantina Leonardo (Liberty Wines)
A little disappointing in some respects. The wines have very little Tuscan typicity, although the Chianti is undoubtably fantastic value.

Cantina Leonardo Ser Piero Chardonnay IGT £9.99
Quite floral nose with pears and peaches. Palate has obvious lees influence, concentrated peach fruit and soft oak tannins. There are some unwanted soapy notes, and the wine seems a bit angular.

Cantina Leonardo Leonardo Chianti 2002 * £6.49
This is more compact and traditional than the last vintage, and they have done very well in a poor year. Less fat fruit, quite well structured. Good value.

Cantina Leonardo Leonardo Chianti Riserva 2000
Bournville chocolate on nose, with very jammy bramble fruit on palate.Very modern.

Cantina Leonardo Ippolito 2000 IGT £16.99
Merlot/ Syrah. Planted 1993, this has a good, super-ripe nose with very extracted raspberry and blackcurrant fruit on the palate. Very sweet and perhaps a little one-dimensional for the price.

Cantina Leonardo Brunello di Montalcino 1998 £27.99
Has rich, sweet, dark fruit with a nice clean acidity. Palate kicks in with assertive tannins and a firm finish. Good, but pales a little beside some other Brunellos for the same sort of price.

Cantina Leonardo Ca' de Matt Barbera £5.99
Soft and bubblegummy with a touch of grip at the end - not terribly interesting.

Cantina Leonardo Ca de Matt Barbera d'Asti Superiore £9.99
Much more interesting, with plenty of cherry fruit and vigour. Nice green grip at the end, Lively stuff.

Costanti (Liberty Wines)
What a revelation. Someone making top notch, traditional wines with impeccable breed. Oak management seems very important here, with barrel sizes changing according to the vintage and style. I cannot recommend these wines highly enough, there is a balance and completeness which is hard to pin down.

Costanti Rosso di Montalcino 2000 **
Big, dense and oaky with lots of forest floor fruit and wood, dark spice and good structure.

Costanti Vermiglio 1999 *
70% Sangiovese 15% Merlot 15% Cabernet. Has the lovelt density and structure of the House, but with a new world purity of fruit.

Costanti Brunello di Montalcino 1998 **
A compelling, slightly hot nose with roasted herbs and dark fruit, touch of heat. The wine jumps out of the glass with a strong, herbs and rich fruit palate with incredible bite and a formidable tannin structure. Exciting stuff!

Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1997 ***
A subtle but powerful nose with myriad wood, spice, herbs and coffee notes. Palate is incredibly seductive, combining elegance with huge power. A 'Jaws' wine - there is something hugely powerful lurking beneath the surface, which is already balanced. Wonderful structure, a breathtaking wine.

Poliziano (Enotria)
A house who are embracing the new laws in Montalcino allowing other grape varieties. The style is definitely modern - with silky tannins and proud fruit - but they are clearly well in control of what they achieve.

Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano 2001 *
80% Sangiovese 20% Merlot. Very soft, fruity nose and the palate is a treat - rich and fruity, juicy even, with bright, well-defined cherries and raspberries backed with a fine line of ripe tannin and acidity.

Poliziano Morellino di Scansano 2002 TANK SAMPLE
Very vibrant cherries, lots of life, but not much else showing yet.

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2000 *
80% Sangiovese (Prunolo) plus Caniaolo Nero, Colonno (?) Merlot. Fruit is modern and juicy, but works well. There is a darker side, with bite from good acidity, and the oak is very silky already. Approachable.

Poliziano Asinone 2000 **
100% Prunolo. 18months in new oak. Very dark colour, huge nose with sweet fruit. The palate has an awesome concentration of sweet, dense berry fruit and damsons. An immense backbone of very silky oak tannin, this wine is young but has lovely potential.

Fontodi (Liberty Wines)
I really can't imagine Chianti getting any better than these wines. The array of flavours in every single wine is highly impressive and, as with the other top level Tuscans here, there is a balance that is hard to put your finger on, but just exudes class and near-perfection.

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2001 ** £14?
Deep, complex black cherry fruit. Palate has awesome fruit and extraction of secondary . There is hot, baked cherries, sultanas, wood spice and great length. Lovely.

Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo 2000 *** £28?
90% Sangiovese 10% Cabernet. Nose has so much happening - amazing exotic spices and grilled wild herbs. On the palate, the morello fruit is utterly voluptuous, and tannins are perfectly soft but insistent. Medium to full body with a very well integrated finish. Sheer class.

Fontodi Flaccianello 2000 * £45?
100% Sangiovese. More elegant than the Chiantis, with a more delicate fruit profile and finer tannins. A subtle, soft and impeccably balanced wine, but pricey.

Fontodi Syrah 2000 * £27?
Big, fat and hot with less pepper than some, but plenty of very dark, hot fruit and a slightly tarry backbone.

Carpineto (Hallgarten)
Lovely, characterful wines which are brasher than some but irresistible. The single vineyard wines have superb presentation and would compete with many better-known super Tuscans.

Carpineto Vernacchia di San Gimignano 2002 £7.99?
Pear drops, palate has some limey fruit.

Carpineto Dogaiolo 2001 ** £8.49?
An absolute gem - very well priced and with a wonderful label. So juicy initially, with berry fruit, brambles and a hint of smoke. Fun and juicy through the whole palate, with a backbone of smoke and decent acidity.

Carpineto Chianti Classico 2001 *
10% Canaiolo Nero. Clean, crunchy raspberry fruit and good, crisp structure with hint of bitterness on finish.

Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 ** £14.99?
Nose again has clean berry fruit, with a whiff of smoke. Palate is dense, with darker plum and blackberry fruit and chalky tannins on the finish. Retains a nice Chianti delicacy throughout.

Carpineto Brunello di Montalcino 1998
Has style and depth, but not a huge wine. Violets, some soft tannins amd a smokey, tannic finish.

Carpineto Farnito 1999 ** £17.99?
100% Cab. Great aromatics - brash liquorice and boot polish. Very tight structure with a fine vein of ripe tannin controlling the concise, sweet currant fruit. A fine wine.

Carpineto Sant' Enrico 1999 * £34.99?
100% Sangiovese. Rich with Turkish delight aromatics. The mouthfeel is nicely chalky and develops to a sweet, minty finish.

Carpineto Sillano 1999 * £34.99
Sangiovese 60% Cabernet 40%. Chocolate and raspberries, very dense with tight strucure, quite a lot of young tannin. Length is youthful but impressive.

Carpineto Molin Vecchio 1999 ** £34.99
Sangiovese 70% Cabernet 10% Syrah 20%. Hot, sexy nose. Redcurrants, pepper and spice all mingle on a hugely attractive palate, very complete and well-rounded alreadyt, with super-ripe tannins.

Carpineto Vin Santo Farinto 1986 ***
The very, very cool metal label hides a truly stunning wine, with one of the most complex noses I have ever smelt. Bursting with gladioli, cooked peaches, lavender, rubber and even fine whisky, the palate delivers what is promised with a truly stunning mix of cooked fruits, perect sweetness and a spicy, woody mix of secondary flavours. Very, very profound.

Emilia-Romana

Carpene-Malvolti
Good, simple, juicy Prosecco.

Carpene-Malvolti Prosecco Colli Trevigioni * £4.99?
Very soft with a touch of sweetness and a nice gentle mousse. Very good for the price.

Carpene-Malvolti Prosecco di Conegliano £7.99?
Strange chalky, melony nose. Palate has richness and a touch of sweet fruit. Not bad, but still a chalkiness on Umberto Cesari (Hallgarten)
An uneven range, with a lack of style and poor presentation.

Umberto Cesari Albana di Romana 2002
Dry, tart and acidic. Really quite unpleasant.

Umberto Cesari Trebbiano di Romana 2002
Simple, soft, well-made but unexciting.

Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romana Riserva 2000 £8.99
Quite hot nose, but fruit is mellow. Palate has soft blackberry fruit, a touch dirty, with soft tannin.

Umberto Cesari Liano 2000 * £14.99
70% Sangiovese 30% Cabernet, 2yrs in Alliers barriques. A nice toasty nose. Palate has chocolate, liquorice and a fine tannin structure underpinning soft, mellow red fruits.

Umberto Cesari Tauleto 1999 £24.99
90% Sangiovese 10% Longanese. Has a modern, tuscan feel fruit-wise, but the oak is still huge.

The Marches

Bove (Hallgarten)
Believe it or not, these wines offered outstanding value for money. An unbelievable improvement.

Bove Trebbiano delle Marche 2002 * £4.49?
Quite good - peachy and fleshy with a nice lift of acidity.

Bove Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2002 * £4.49?
Modern, jammy, lifted nose. Good cherries and damson jam on palate with some richness. VFM.

Bove Avegiano Montepulciano D'Abruzzo ** £5.49?
Fantastic value - has richness, chocolate and sweet, ripe tannins with stacks of bright cherry and damson fruit. Very good for the price.

Illuminati (Hallgarten)
Despite some good press coverage recently, I can find very little to recommend any wines from here. Poor winemaking and unbalanced wines in general, especially when compared to other producers at the same price level. I can't be bothered listing all the notes….

Garofoli (Hallgarten)
Benchmark Verdicchios - although they are still only Verdicchios!

Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2002 * £5.49?
Blossom and caramel on nose, with peach blossom and an almost Muscaty palate. V pleasant.

Garofoli Verdicchio Machina 2002 ** £6.49?
Rich, burnt toffee nose. Has great poise, and good aromatics for the price with a nice minerality on a clean, precise finish.

Garofoli Verdicchio Podium 1999 ** £8.99?
Lychees and Muscat on nose. Palate has a Gewurz-like richness with rich, buttery flavours and a tight, elegant finish.

Garofoli Verdicchio Podium 2000 ** £8.99?
Beurre noisette nose with musky, nutty, rich mouthfeel, concentrated citrus and good length and acidity. Verdicchio doesn't get any better.

Garofoli Ambre Rosso Piceno 2001 * £6.49?
A nice blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese, with clean cherry fruit and a nice soft touch of oak. Clean and bright.



  Andy started work in the wine trade in France, including time as winemaker's assistant in Provence, the Ardeche and Fitou. In the late 1990s he set up Luvians, an independent fine wine and whisky merchant in St. Andrews, Fife. However, the lure of winemaking returned and having graduated with a degree in oenology from Lincoln University in New Zealand, Andy took his first wine making job in the Roussillon region of France. Here, Andy reports from the annual wine trade fair held in Verona, a vital part of Italy's wine calander.


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