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a selection of Italian wines

by Tom Cannavan, 05/01

This was an impressive group of modern Italian reds which I enjoyed very much. As a group they exhibited an interesting marriage of drinkability and quite serious structure.

Agricola Il Ciliegio Chianti Colli Senesi "Poggio alle Rose" 1998 - £7.70
This is quite a firm style of Chianti, which would benefit from decanting, or a few more years in bottle. The nose is layered with berries, tobacco and leafy herbal notes, a deep seam of spice and some delicate, floral nuances too. On the palate it really is quite powerfully grippy at present, with a good depth of fruit, but constrained by tight, hard tannins and good levels of acidity. After a night in a loosely-corked bottle this had softened considerably to show more earthy depth and roundness.

G.B. Burlotto Langhe 'Mores' 1997 - £11.30
Marina Burlotto is the fourth generation of this family business. This is a 50/50 blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera, matured in barriques and partially in tank. It has a deep ruby/garnet colour and a very attractive nose, brimming with sweet, deep berry fruit and a minty, chocolaty ripeness. There's just a hint of briarwood. On the palate it is a powerful wine, smooth and thickly-fruited, a damson bittersweetness and juicy acidity giving structure to jammy, soft fruit. There's quite a grip on the finish, which is a touch austere, but nevertheless, a profound and impressive wine.

Monti Verdi Chianti Classico Cipressone 1996 - £14.20
Dark, glossy ruby colour. Nose is suffused with deep, tobacco, spicy, warm and velvety oak aromas, plum and chocolate and a cassis sweetness. On the palate it has good body and plenty of rich black cherry fruit, a dark, savoury plum and blackcurrant richness and acidity and quite a powerful, but fine tannic spine. Structured and firm, this is a serious Chianti that will age, or drink now with lamb, roasted meats or richly-sauced pasta. Very good indeed.

Nicolis Angelo "Testal" Rosso del Veronese 1997 - £14.20
From the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone, but a "super-Veronese" IGT classified wine, mainly made from the Corvina grape. The grapes are "cordon cut", so that they are cut from the vine but left hanging for one month until they dry, then they are raisined further in special drying rooms (like Amarone). Aging is for 18 months in small oak barrels. This wine has a very dark, vibrant ruby colour and a nose immediately suggesting slightly spirity concentration, dark bitter cherry and intense raspberry. On the palate it has a powerfully firm-edged character with liquorice and aniseed, lots of firm cherry fruit and tight, grippy tannins. There is good red fruit quality here, and the wine is long and never loses focus, but it's a bit of a closed beast that might benefit from a few years in bottle.