Fontodi 1995 Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany) — Dust and strawberry charcoal with a sharply exposed spine of tannin. Probably a few years past peak, but the lingering aromatics are as soil-driven as one could ever want. (11/16)
Felsina 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia (Tuscany) — Corked. Arrrgh! (9/16)
Forsoni “Sanguineto I e II” 2010 Toscano Bianco (Tuscany) – This is a wine I’ve struggled with in other vintages, finding it clumsy compared to their succulent red, but in 2010 they’ve reached my palate. There’s a fruit salad element to it, yes, but not in a clumsy, pushed-ripeness New World sort of way; rather, the sort of careful selection of complementary fruit that often finishes an Italian meal. Just balanced, maybe tilting still a bit towards fruit rather than structure, and letting it get too warm brings out an overweightedness that does the wine few favors. Whether this vintage is an aberration or the new norm, I can’t say. Yet. (8/12)
Stianti “Volpaia” 1998 Balifico (Tuscany) – Suavely-oaked herbs, oak-sheened dark fruit (its identity anonymous), a vague gesture in the direction of structure. Bordeaux-ish yet not. Some tar at the end. Has matured nicely yet to no particular destination of more than academic interest. Yep…this is a super-Tuscan, alright. (1/12)
Forsoni “Poderi Sanguineto I e II” 2009 Rosso di Montepulciano (Tuscany) – This wine continues to encapsulate a “lost” Tuscany for me, though to be fair I have been so cynical, for so long, about the region that for all I know I’m missing a viticultural counterrevolution and quality without excessive artifice is once more ascendant. But probably not.
What I mean by the preceding is that there’s a culinary succulence to the region’s reds in their envisioned form, especially the simpler ones, and that more than anything else it’s the loss of that appeal (in favor of spectacle) that has damaged so many wines. That succulence is in display here, though the wine isn’t really that simple. If the fruit’s purple, it’s a very light purple, and what’s red is a very dark red, so meet somewhere in the middle and call it magenta-tinted – we are still talking about the fruit quality here, not the color of the wine – with nice acidity, brittle but balanced tannin that breaks quickly down into a suppler particulate form, and a fine, poised finished. A wine to buy and drink in quantity. Cellaring? I’ve only ever stashed one bottle deep enough to find out, but I suspect most will – like me – find the immediacy too tempting. (12/11)
Castello della Paneretta 2001 Chianti Classico (Tuscany) – So massively better than the 1999 Riservas (which are dead or dying) that I almost have to wonder if oak can be damaging. Oh, no. Couldn’t possibly be, could it?
Strawberry sharpness, with a lash of acidity and barky undertannins, yet perfectly cohesive. The fruit isn’t done maturing, yet I think the wine as a whole has gone about as far as it should; the structure has evaporated, leaving the shells and superstructures rather exposed, and I don’t believe further cellaring will improve the view. (12/11)
Castello della Paneretta 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany) – Ashen red fruit, wan and fading. Drink up a few years ago. (11/11)
Castello della Paneretta 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany) – Past maturity, but not so far that it lacks all interest. Sandy minerality, old roasted cherries turned very slightly spirituous, dust upon dust, and an intrusive burnt-honey quality that comes from the wood of which this wine always had just a little too much. (10/11)
da Renzo “Fattoria di Basciano” 1996 Chianti Rufina (Tuscany) – Old grape, gritty with earth and broken-down tar. Still quite structured, still very present, but just enough past its prime that the structure dominates. (10/11)
Carpazo 2007 Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany) – Grating and surly, with more tannin than its black raspberryish fruit needs, and with more anger than the drinker wants. (8/11)