Tuscan Wines


Chianti Classico
Rosso di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Super Tuscan
As Yet Unsorted


Chianti Classico


90 Ruffino Ducale Gold Chianti Classico Riserva
Very simple and a nice flavor. Not very concentrated. Thin, soft tannins (not shown here). Parker rated it a full-flavored 90 pts, but I seriously question this assessment. Remember, Parker is drinking the stuff before grapes were even discovered, so of course it tastes full-flavored. I do have another bottle, and I will let you know what happens. $27  3/98

(1) This time, a little bit more fruit and an enjoyable wine overall. Bottle to bottle I suppose. Also note that Parker's (2010-2015) suggestion is WAY off. Drink now-2005 is more like it. “And how should I presume?” $26 (worth $22) 12/99


88 Selvapiano Chianti Classico
Tannic. Nice fruit. Simple, good Chianti. Letting it age 11 years may have helped expand the nose a bit, and a couple more years might do more. $18 4/99

89 Antinori Chianti Classico
Alcoholic nose. Harsh tannins, too much acid, but still has some fruit. Has not changed much in 10 years. This frog won't be kissing any principesse any time soon. $13 5/99

88 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

Typical Chianti nose. Light-medium bodied. Good Sangiovese in the middle, even hints of the brown flavor after some time in the glass. Finish is drying. I would think this is a little more enjoyable now at 12 yrs than it was earlier on when it was more of an acid bomb. A push at $12 (back then). 1/00

90 Badia y Coltibuono Chianti Classico
Good flavor. A bit dry. RP said best in 2002. I agree that it had another 2-3 years, but it wouldn't matter. $22 5/00

90 Fossi Chianti Classico

Old, dry and okay (not oaky). Nothing special. 8/00

97 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico
Pretty much exactly what I expected. No more, no less. $30 4/04

97 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva del Sorbo

Tannins dominated from start to finish.  Plenty of fruit in there somewhere, I’m pretty sure. Would not try again for another 5 yrs. $45 8/05


00 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico

Petty good. Worth $20. Money isn’t everything. 1/05

01 Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia
Good, tasty, accessible. Still, it doesn’t reach beyond that just slightly too-sour Chianti flavor. $26 (worth $20-30) 11/05

01 Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico
Forty-five minutes air and this is already much better. Still only $25-30 worth of Chianti flavor and concentration. But surprisingly balanced for this region/price. Might get better over the next 5-7 years. Not bad. ($?)



Rosso di Montalcino

91 Poggio Antico Rosso di Montalcino

(1) 10/96. Good stuff. $13
(2) Alcoholic, fruity nose. It's up front and the fruit is present, but the tannins are a bit harsh. Short to medium finish. Has a slightly awkward taste, but there is a small reward for continued swishing. I don't see that the wine has changed much since the last time. 1/98
(3) Same story. I tried that gas preserver thing for the first time on it, and it was much more preserved after a week than the control sample, for which I've received several tempting offers from Saddam Hussein and some guy that just refers to himself as mother. 5/98
(4) The tannins were more relaxed after spending the night with some oxygen. That your tongue could pass for a raisin, but you continue to drink on is a testament to the flavor of Sangiovese. Like Clinton, these wines can whip you like a used chicken, and you keep coming back for more. 9/98
(5) Hasn't changed much at 9 years old, also like Clinton. 12/99

96 Cantina di Montalcino Rosso di Montalcino
Light-bodied, medium fruit. Can you believe Intel is putting ID codes in their new microprocessors to help track internet users? It appears to have less tannin and concentration than the Poggio 91. Not much of a finish, but then, not an unpleasant finish either. A nice, simple Tuscan wine, like Grandma used to make. Worth the price, but the search is still on. $12 12/98

96 Lisini Rosso di Montalcino
From the label: 'Made from one hundred percent Sangiovese Grosso grapes, this Rosso di Montalcino is aged for two years in barrels before being released. The result is a wine that keeps all its complexity, while offering a fresh, pleasant bouquet and mouth-filling fruit. It can be enjoyed immediately or kept for several years.' But the more important question is 'how much should I spend on a Rosso di Montalcino?' And the answer is probably not more than this. I suppose it's a little bit more harmonious than the other RdM's reviewed here. But let's wait for a better vintage (1997) and see if we can't do more for less. A Rosso by any other price is still a Rosso, so far, so so. $20 12/98

96 Banfi Rosso di Montalcino
Medium tannins, typical fruit and acidity and a short but pleasant finish. A wine like this must be accompanied by food, otherwise, it will seem out of balance. But if I can't have harmony for under $20, perhaps I can get more fruit y body. So let's all get really excited about the next hyped vintage. $16 1/99

96 Gatevecchia Rosso di Montepulciano
The relatively harsh tannins in this wine make it difficult to enjoy (razorberry). I find that opening the wine, recorking it and giving it a night in solitary solves the problem. This makes the wine a bit softer at the cost of slightly diminished or altered fruit (bluberry instead of blueberry). What the hell did I expect for nothin'. $9 1/99

97 Pertimali Rosso di Montalcino
Lots of fruit. Can’t say if it will ever come into balance, though. +tannins. Better than cheap Chianti, but I still wouldn’t get more for $20. 2/01

97 Caparzo Rosso di Montalcino

Doing fine. Flavorful. $20 (worth $18) 9/05


97 La Fuga Rosso di Montalcino

Great burst of fruit, extraction. Chewable almost like a Brunello. Only flaw is a somewhat harsh/abrupt finish. But is that why we buy RdMs? Could have stayed at least this good another 5+ years. (Cost $22/Worth $30) 9/06

98 Ucceleria Rosso di Montalcino
Decent fruit. Solid grape flavor but somewhat rough. Worth $17 (not $19) 5/02

99 Ciacci Rosso di Montalcino
Okay. Fruit is plentiful but not enough berry. ?too tart/unrefined sap. Tannic. Slightly to dry. $19 11/02

99 Collosorbo Rosso di Montalcino
Very good flavor. Worth it. Even not unbalanced like most Italian reds in this price range seem to be. $23 9/02


Brunello di Montalcino



88 San Felice Campogiovanni
Similar to the 90 Brunello, but less concentrated and opulent. Still an incredible value at $25. Perhaps a bit too tannic (needs 5 more years, making it a 16 year wine). $25 7/99

90 San Felice Campogiovanni
Rich. C-17 loads of glycerol. So tannic and backward at this point that I don't get the 'special' leather, spice, tar et al you read about in Wine Magazines. Day two was another story. As the tannins softened, it was a leather, spice and tobacco gala. There was even a hint of barnyard. Tannins now referred to as racy. Try again in 4-10 years. And this may not be a true guarantee any more, but I've never had an Italian wine over $30 that didn't 'bring it on home' if you know what I mean. I'm thinking I should spend the same kind of money on Italian as I do French. Why do I succumb to this instinctual prejudice? $36 4/99

(2) Strong. Leather, tobacco, tar—as advertised. I feel like this could improve over next 5, maybe even 10 years. Cost $33 (worth $40). 6/05

90 Il Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino


“A simple, one-dimensional Brunello di Montalcino, this medium-bodied, moderately concentrated wine exhibits hard tannin in the finish. There is not enough sweet, ripe fruit to balance out the wine's astringency. More intensity, fat, and fruit extraction is warranted if this wine is to carry its structure and tannin without drying out.” – Parker, 78 points!!!


Parker (was) basically right. The wine is too astringent, out of balance, and a bit too acidic as well. But at 16 years age, the tannins have mellowed somewhat, and although I would not serve this wine to anyone else, I certainly can take guilty pleasure in its strong Sangiovese Grosso flavor. The flavor is there. And the experience (while harsh), is still much more interesting (to me) than any $10-20 monolithic non-European swill. 7/06


99 Gorelli Brunello di Montalcino

Flavor fairly peculiar in it has a kind of a dual tack palate. It has a lot of delicious fruit running through. But just ½ of the way through, you become aware of, like, this parallel layer of more watery flavor. Which then assumes captaincy over the finish. 11/05


99 Scopetone Brunello di Montalcino

Incredibly backward (I thought). If you let it breath > 1-2 hrs, you start to get that classic LTTC (leather, tobacco, tar, chocolate) that I associate with Brunello. Dense, chewy middle (the wine has about $50 worth of concentration). Strong tannins. Could turn out awesome. Could turn out pretty good.  Will not turn out bad. I would hesitate to predict its future to any certainty, but I see no major flaws and would not discourage anyone from buying and cellaring this one. $55 (probably worth it) 11/05


99 Ciacci Piccolomini Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino

Nose fine. Palate delicious, fruit relatively forward. Tannins present but mild.

Nice medium-bodied wine. Prolonged swishing reveals a not-extremely concentrated wine. Would not attempt to match anything greater than (> level 7) meats.  Nice ~15 second finish.  This wine is delicious and I should say ready for drinking now through 5-7 more years.  $40 (worth $40) 11/05


The following Parker review: “The 1999 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso, one of the best to date, announces its importance with warm and potent aromas of plums and red currants, chocolate and tar. The rich and concentrated flavors, deep, supple, and very long, have the dimension, class, and definition that put the Sangiovese of Montalcino in a category of its own. Drink: 2005-2020.”


What is he smoking? Are we talking about the same wine?


99 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino

Initial nose of (fenugreek? or celery seed? both?) which blows right off. Flavor more complex, backward than the Pianrosso, but definitely intriguing, and good. This is kind of a bomb isn’t it?  Started to open after about an hour.  This wine portends greatness. I would put this down for at least 10 years (maybe longer). $47 (worth $50-55). 11/05


Alternate review: “Yes. Yes and yes.”


99 San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello

Very tannic. Flavor okay. But hard to really tell. No reason to think it will become great (or that it won’t, for that matter). Just too rough today.  Cost $40 (worth ?). 6/06



Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

90 DEI Vino Nobile Riserva
Very tasty with long, fruity finish. We're getting there. Good value. $23 4/96
(2) More interesting than before. I'm still trying to distinguish one Sangiovese clone from another. Such a great flavor this grape. 12/97
(2) Flat. The fruit was just not there this time. Will try again in the next year or so. 11/99
(3) Okay, I didn't wait a year. The fruit is sufficient this time, although not enough to match the tannins. The late palate and finish is just a bit awkward. Too bad. 2/00
(4) Fruit is still there but no balance. Worth $18 I would say. Not much different than previous. 9/01

95 Poliziano
Nice flavor. Medium body. Little on the dry side but nothing food couldn’t fix. $25 (worth $23). 7/01

97 DEI Vino Nobile Riserva
Not bad but not as smooth on the finish as I was hoping for. Just a touch too dry, like so many Italian reds. $30 4/04

01 La Braccesca Vino Nobile


“The 2001 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a 200,000 bottle cuvee, demonstrates much the same personality as in recent years, fragrant and floral with a perfumed nose of red currants and violets, medium body, a silky texture, and good persistence on the finish. It will supply another five or six years of good drinking.” – Robert Parker


            Agree. (cost $31; worth $30) 9/06



90 Capezzana Riserva
It took about 3 hours to really begin to open up, but then it was quite interesting. It's a blend of 75% Sangiovese, 15% cabernet sauvignon and 10% Canaiolo (Italian for Canaiolo). It was not bad for $27. 11/97


95 Ambra Carmignano

Awkward, but not plainly bad. Could be going through awkward phase? I really don’t know but will try again in 5-7 years. 1/06


01 Ambra Carmignano San Cristina in Pilli

Tasty. Fine. Not bad or overly out of balance. Fruit thins a little on late palate, but that’s fine at this price. $22 3/06


“The 2001 Carmignano Santa Cristina in Pilli, a dark garnet, has a vigorous, and peppery nose of red and black berries, and an attractive medium weight on the palate with good freshness and balance on the finish. Drink: 2005-2010.”


My lord I could not possibly agree more with these comments.




93 From Sardinia
It tasted like a mediocre Chianti pretty much (that's DOC without the G). It left you with an unpleasant feeling similar to that which occurs after reading a useless description of a wine. 1/97

90 San Felice
Fairly tannicy [pr. tan-nikki], but still quite pleasant. Plenty of fruit.  Perhaps it was a touch too acidic (judging by the burning esophagus from hell reaction). $15 9/98



Super Tuscans


90 Ca del Pazzo
Very nice. 50/50 cab/Sangiovese. Nose like a California cab, but the passengers are all Sangiovese. Tannins still too prominent even at 8 years. I do not feel confident assessing the future of this wine. $26 2/99

90 Isodi di San Niccola
Big, opulent fruit. Plenty of tannins. Concentrated and tight. Quite enjoyable, but try again in 5 more years. Probably worth $33. 5/99
(2) Good fruit but too dry and a little out of balance. ?wait another 3-5 years. Worth $26 3/02

90 Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto   

Really tasting like any above-average Chianti to me.  Sadly not as amazing as was hoped. Was the fruit better a few years ago?  I don't know. But just doesn’t seem very integrated or smooth at this point. Sad. (RP 94, now – 1997; I’ll never know; sad). $40 9/05


97 Antinori Tignanello

Nice early fruit (some hint at a magnificent brown fruit VdT), but the finish is unfortunately astringent. Might get a little better with a few more years or even the trick of opening, recorking immediately then having it the next day. That might help. (cost $60, worth $35) 8/06


As Yet Unsorted Italians


85 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano
Sucked. Just totally ordinary. Fruit still held up but just didn’t taste great. This is really sad. $60 2/05

93 Rosso di Altesino for $9. I could get a lot more wine for $9.50, so there really isn't any need for this one. It gives you a hint of Sangiovese flavor, but mainly it's dry and thin without much else (soft core Sangiovese). 2/98

“She said it was a good book, it could even be a great book, but there was no need to have written it, because Charles Dickens had already written it.” - Woody Allen

93 Fonterutoli Concerto
Thick, strong, but ?tannins too much, too grainy. Not bad, just not balanced enough to get excited about. Drink now through ? WS 88 pts $33 2/05

94 Fonterutoli Concerto
Delicious. Fruity. Not perfectly balanced, tannic. But good flavor and more oaked that the other Italians I’ve been drinking. ?cabernet coming through. Pretty good for $25 I would think. 9/01

93 Percarlo SGR
Italian red produced in Chianti. Good taste, just too dry as usual. Could be the bottle. Didn’t seem over-the-hill or anything. $30 1/05

95 Fontodi Case Via (Syrah)
Good flavor. Smooth balance. Nice but brief finish. Should drink now? Seems like it might age quickly? But good. $31 7/03

95 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Great brown Italian flavor. Very chewy. Medium long enjoyable finish. Only ever-so slightly awkward balance (but not more can be expected for an Italian brown-fruiter). Would say drink now through at least 5 more years, and will probably get even better as it mellows toward peak drinking. 1/06


95 La Palazzola Merlot                                 

Good. strong tannins. Medium, deep merlot-Italian style fruit. Hold another 3-5 yrs. [2GR] [RP 90, 2001-2017; wow he may be right about this] $33 7/06

97 Planeta Merlot
Very good. We didn't really wait for it to open up because it was too easy to drink. Medium body but lots of good fruit. I think this wine will be best during the next 3 - 6 years, maybe more. As I said, it was gone before I could really think about it. May well be worth $30. 3/00 (now - 2006)

98 Ciacci Tuscano Ateo
It’s good. Fruity. Not bad. $22 5/02

97 Fontodi Case Via Syrah
Strong flavor (pretty much exactly what I’d expect from Syrah produced in Italy), may mellow out over next 2-3 yrs, no rush, but may not be getting any better. Cost $42 (worth $30).

(2) Really surprisingly difficult to tell difference between this and a nice Hermitage. Good. Finish only medium-length. But better French North Rhônes cost tons more. 12/06


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