Italian Wines






90 Taurino Notarpanaro
The most balanced $13 Italian wine I've ever tasted. Astonishingly well balanced with a smooth, medium length finish. My only complaint is subjective in that I'm not sure I agree with the basic flavor of the grapes. Negro Amaro and Malvasia Nera are the indigenous suspects. ?now-2002 2/00


90 Patriglione Apulia

Totally delicious. Harmonious. Tannins still a tiny bit backward and heavy but delicious mouth filling what can only be described as glorious Italian fruit. $30 (RP: 2005+) 7/05


99 Taurino Notarpanaro

Surprisingly balanced. Solid fruit. Unique flavor. Good. $18 2/05






90 Mastrobardino Radici

Very good. Lots of flavor. Lots of tannin. Good value at $20. 10/96

96 Di Majo Norante Ramitello
More fruit than you expected for $12. Somewhat OB (out of balance) with an ordinary finish. Still much better than similarly-priced key-aunties. (Aglianico/Prugnolo) 7/99

(2) Simple, pleasant, decent fruit. Still say it beats most $15 Chianti 2/01




97 Cantina Monrubio - Palaia (Umbria)

Fruity and fun and not overly tannic. Let it breath a while and then just guzzle. This is the kind of fun table wine people (used to) expect from Italy. Reasonably priced at $18. What? Unfortunately, that is reasonably priced nowadays. This wine is fruity now and will be for another ?5-10 years. 12/99

00 Falesco Montiano
I liked it. Nice balance. Smooth tannins. Nice fruit (how Italians can make merlot taste like a Sangiovese/cab blend is beyond me but...). Expect it will drink well from now for maybe a gentle evolution of 5-8 yrs (probably would keep longer, but I think it will be at it’s best by then). $38 (worth $36-38) 11/05

03 Falesco Vitiano


“Consistently one of the finest values in the marketplace, the 2003 Vitiano Rosso (34% Sangiovese, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 33% Merlot) spent three months in oak casks prior to bottling. Its deep ruby color is accompanied by aromas of dried roses, strawberries, cherries, currants, and spice box. With good density, loads of fruit, medium body, and an elegant, clean finish, it is a character-filled Italian red to consume over the next 1-2 years.” – RP

            Agreed, although six bottles (over a period of time) and you’ve pretty much had enough for a year. $10




91 Argiolas Turriga
French oak and merlot qualities jump out at you, although it's actually Cannonau (Grenache), Malvasia Rosso, and Carignano. Medium bodied, dark brown flavor.* Tannins still dominate a bit so I can't really evaluate it, and you should hold yours another 5 years. Worth $27. [3 GR] 12/99


* Dark brown flavor is the new way to say “earth, leather, tobacco and tar.”


93 Argiolas Turriga
A little dry but good, odd grape flavor. Sticks. Seems in drinking window now. 12/04




97 Regaleali
Very nice, tastes like it should, like a nice $35 California cab, which you can tell was made in Italy (because it says on the bottle).  2/01



90 Gasparini Capo de Stato
Good, strong nose of cabernet.
Medium body. The flavor, which is top quality mud, is a bit hidden within the dark, brooding structure. The finish is dominated by tannins. I wonder if a few more years might reveal different flavor. I forgot how much it costs, but it's worth twenty something. Best after 2004. 5/00

90 Gravello Librandi
I opened this and thought, "Oh, god, another dark brown one from a non-region." But so then I just recorked it and put it aside for 2 days. Then I had it again. Standard nose. Good mouthfeel. Tannins really mellowed out over a couple of days. Not a bad finish. Even has a hint of port-like sweetness, although the overall flavor is still that non-descript brown flavor. $20 (worth $27) Next day: This is really heavyweight flavor. If this flavor were Nebbiolo. I would be going bananas over this wine.  The structure really was smooth – this wine is really a great deal at $21 3/01


95 Feudi Taurasi

Horrible. Foul tannins. Essentially undrinkable. ?bad bottle? Will try the other next time and compare. $23 worth (-) $3 [RP 90, now-2004] 9/05

01 Feudi Serpico

Tannins way over-the-top. Middle over-oaked. I’m not even so sure about the basic grape flavor either for that matter. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens to this monster over time, but for now, I would hesitate to buy any more at $60. (worth ?) 11/05


03 Firriato Nero d’Avola Chiaramonte


“The 2001 Chiaramonte, the house’s regular Nero d’Avola bottling, provides eminent drinkability with its brambly, minty, berry and black cherry fruit and lengthy, vigorous flavors. Only a slight hardness, which may yield with time, keeps the score from going higher. Drink: 2004-2008.” – Daniel Thomases


I complete agree (except he’s talking about the ’01) (cost $19, worth $18) 9/06


04 Sportoletti Assisi


“The Sportoletti family, one of the leaders in Umbria, produces superb wines from their 50-acre vineyard. A superb introduction to the portfolio, the 2004 Assisi Rosso is a blend of equal parts Sangiovese and Merlot aged in used French oak for six months. Its dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by a rich bouquet of raspberries, cherries, earth, and high quality cigar smoke. It possesses a terrific texture, sweet blackberry, cherry, and strawberry fruit flavors, good glycerin, a delineated mouthfeel, and a lusty, heady, complex finish with savory tannin. Drink it over the next 1-3 years. A gorgeous value!” – Robert Parker


I complete agree except I think it could last 5-6 years. (cost $18, worth $20) 9/06


(2) Had again. Same opinion. Nice balance for a < $20 Italian. Only thing keeping < $20 is a slight thinness on the late palate/finish.



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