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Italy Wines

Italy Wines

Italy Wines

What are the first things that come to mind when thinking about Italy and Italian culture? There’s one thing that nearly everyone tends to mention, it’s the food - and where there’s fine food, there is almost always fine wine. Italy is the most prolific wine region in the world, outclassing even France in terms of production quantity. Even if you’re a complete wine novice, you have almost certainly heard of names such as Barolo and Barbaresco, Italy’s most famous wine styles. When it comes to soil composition and other geographical characteristics, Italy offers a lot of diversity, and this never fails to show in the wines themselves.
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1986 ceretto barolo bricco rocche Italy Red
As low as $215.00
1986 gaja barbaresco Barbaresco

Complex and aromatic, with spice, anise and toast aromas mingling with generous Nebbiolo flavor. Plenty of tannin, too; the sort that clamps down after two or three seconds on the palate and doesn't let go. Cellaring until 1995 should bring it into balance. 10,000 cases made.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

92
WS
As low as $370.00
1987 produttori del barbaresco barbaresco Italy Red
As low as $115.00
1988 felsina fontalloro Super Tuscan/IGT

A superbly structured wine, with impressive aromas and flavors of violets, berries and mint. Its full body and super tannins set up well for the concentrated, fruity finish. Try after 1997.--Super Tuscan retrospective.Wine Spectator | 93 WS

93
WS
As low as $150.00
1989 bartolo mascarello barolo Italy Red

Bartolo Mascarello’s 1989 Barolo (magnum) is all freshly cut roses, plums, prunes and sweet spices. The aromas and flavors continue to emerge with notable vigor and intensity, framed exquisitely by firm, silky tannins. Grace and class come to mind as apt descriptors for a wine that balances exceptional depth yet also floats on the palate with ethereal qualities that are hard to do justice to on the printed page. The finish is long and wonderfully pure, with overtones of licorice and menthol that invite a second (and third!) taste. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2030.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RP(Barolo-Bartolo Mascarello) I have no doubt that the 1989 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo will prove to be one of the greatest vintages in the long and consistently excellent career of this maestro, but it is only just starting to show its secondary layers of complexity and desperately deserves more time in the cellar to really reach its apogee. The bouquet is deep, pure and very promising, offering up a blend of cherries, beef bouillon, roasted gamebirds, a touch of wild bay, complex, autumnal soil tones and a topnote of woodsmoke. On the palate the wine is very pure, full and sappy at the core, with great soil inflection, ripe, fine-grained tannins, outstanding focus and grip and a very, very long, pure and complex finish. It is not a crime to be drinking this wine today- if you have enough bottles remaining in the cellar that you are not going to miss one ten years down the road- but this is a wine that is still climbing and its best days are still several years further out. (Drink between 2016 - 2060)John Gilman | 95+ JGOne of the most anticipated wines of the night, the 1989 Barolo is not as exceptional as it can be. I have tasted the 1989 mostly from magnum recently, so perhaps my expectations are a bit colored. Even from the big bottle, though, the 1989 has always shown slight imperfections, especially in the bouquet. In this tasting, my impression is that in the standard bottle those imperfections are more evident. There is plenty of texture and depth to the fruit, but it is the aromatics that are penalizing here.Vinous Media | 91 VM

As low as $910.00
1990 gaja barbaresco Italy Red

Gaja’s 1990 Barbaresco shows an unbelievable level of youthfulness that absolutely defies the effects of time. Blackberry, cherry and plum are miraculously intact and immaculately preserved. This Barbaresco offers much more than a solid base of fruit to keep it relevant. The bouquet is beautifully expressive with etched mineral tones of chalk and brimstone as well as elegantly ethereal layers of balsam herb, rosemary, cola and Asian spice. The wine is drinking superbly at the moment and there’s an exciting level of tension and energy that sets it apart from the rest. The 1990 vintage was released as Angelo Gaja was enjoying one of his many career highpoints. In 1988, he purchased vineyards in the Barolo appellation (previously he purchased fruit) and his landmark Barolo Sperss was released in 1992. In the 1990s, he would expand his winemaking reach to Montalcino and Bolgheri (both in Tuscany) with additional acquisitions in those areas. The success of the 1990 vintage was a huge part of this magical moment on the Gaja timeline. With good potential for further aging, this bottle can be opened now or stored in the cellar for another decade or more. Drink: 2014-2028.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RPThe 1990 Barbaresco emerges from the glass with an exotic array of tar, smoke, licorice and grilled herbs. There is wonderful intensity to the fruit and plenty of structure. The tannins are still a bit young and the wine is only now beginning to enter the early part of what looks to be a long drinking window! The 1990 Barbaresco is a touch rounder and softer than the 1989, with perhaps just a little less aromatic complexity and inner perfume, although that is splitting hairs at this level. The finish is long, intense and deeply satisfying. This is a marvelous bottle of Barbaresco.Antonio Galloni | 95 AGA stunning wine, rich, ripe and supple, balanced with beautifully realized berry, red plum, vanilla and exotic spices, smoothly playing the fruit and toasty oak character off each other. A many layered wine that is approaching drinkability. 7,500 cases made.Wine Spectator | 94 WS

93
RP
As low as $460.00
1990 lisini brunello di montalcino Italy Red

A big and muscular wine with plenty of berry, cherry, mineral character and just the right amount of new wood as accent. Full-bodied, with full tannins and a fresh finish. Better in 1999. 830 cases made.Wine Spectator | 90 WS

As low as $170.00
1993 le pupille saffredi Super Tuscan/IGT

The 1993 is a beguiling, graceful Saffredi laced with plums, prunes, wild herbs, spices and licorice. It possesses gorgeous inner perfume and freshness that frame the fruit through to the elegant, impeccable finish. The French oak confers a level of textural richness and sweetness, but is beautifully balanced in this vintage. At the same time, the 1993 could have been a truly great wine with a more restrained approach to cooperage.Antonio Galloni | 92 AGThe blend is very similar to the previous year: Cabernet Sauvignon dominating at 75% and just marginally more Merlot and Alicante. Climatically, it was an uneventful year and the wine is bigger and more concentrated than its predecessor - and higher in alcohol at 13.5% - but it’s a little less balanced and complete. There’s some spicy, meaty evolution on the nose and smoky black fruit intensity, but there’s both a slight woodiness and a slight woodenness on the palate. Drinking Window 2020 - 2023.Decanter | 91 DEC

As low as $145.00
1994 fonterutoli siepi Italy Red
As low as $115.00
1995 castello dama vigna lapparita Italy Red

Toasty, smoky, coffee aromas and dark black cherries on the nose and palate. The structure is impeccable, making it drinkable now and ageable, too. Not overly extracted, but concentrated and so complex it’s impossible to describe all the nuances.Wine Enthusiast | 93 WEWonderful floral, berry and cocoa aromas. Full-bodied, with fine, polished tannins and a long finish with dark chocolate and berry on the aftertaste. A sleek, racy Merlot from a respected winery. Best after 2001.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

As low as $200.00
1997 castellare i sodi di san niccolo Italy Red

The 1997 I Sodi di San Niccolo is wonderfully elegant, pure and silky. It remains very young, but is so polished that opening a bottle today is far from a crime. Dark red cherries, flowers, mint, spices and new leather flow across the palate in this gracious, totally elegant wine. The 1997 boasts huge dry extract and a show-stopping personality to match. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2022.Proprietor Paolo Panerai is adamant about it. Sangioveto is the correct name and spelling of Tuscany’s main indigenous red variety. Panerai is one of Italy’s most successful entrepreneurs. His publishing empire is vast and encompasses a number of journals running the gamut from Milano Finanza, an Italian version of Barron’s, to Class and other glossy lifestyle magazines. Since the late 1970s, Panerai has owned Castellare, one of the jewels of Chianti Classico. Castellare isn’t as well known as the trendiest estates in Tuscany, but the wines rarely fail to impress. The last few years have seen a marked increase in quality throughout the range, especially among the entry-level bottlings. Quality has never been an issue with the flagship I Sodi di San Niccolo, one of the true icons of Chianti Classico that remains under the radar. Fortunately for consumers, prices have yet to catch up with quality. Sodi is 85% Sangioveto and 15% Malvasia Nera from a vineyard in the heart of the estate, where the bunches are typically loose and naturally low in vigor. Today Sodi is fermented in stainless steel, then racked into concrete for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged 24 months in French oak barrels, roughly 50% new. Consulting oenologist Maurizio Castelli made the first vintages. Current winemaker Alessandro Cellai arrived in 1997. Readers who want to learn more about Castellare and I Sodi di San Niccolo may want to take a look at my recent video interview with Cellai.Castellare I Sodi di San Niccolo Key Points:1. 85% Sangioveto/15% Malvasia Nera aged in French oak barrels2. Made from a low-vigor vineyard in the heart of the property in Castellina3. Impeccable track record of consistency and excellence4. Aging potential: 20-30 years.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97 RPThe 1997 I Sodi di San Niccolo is wonderfully elegant, pure and silky. It remains very young, but is so polished that opening a bottle today is far from a crime. Dark red cherries, flowers, mint, spices and new leather flow across the palate in this gracious, totally elegant wine. The 1997 boasts huge dry extract and a show stopping personality to match.Antonio Galloni | 97 AGDark ruby red. Lots of blackberry and fresh cherry, with hints of chocolate and meat. Full-bodied, with tangy fruit, fresh tannins and a long finish. Balanced and rich. All there. Still very youthful. Sangiovese and Malvasia.--1997 Italian blind retrospective. Best from 2008 through 2018. 2,500 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WSNo written review provided | 92 W&S

As low as $185.00
1997 castello rampolla sammarco Super Tuscans/IGT

What a bottle. Off the charts! Full and velvety with spice and berry character and dark chocolate. Bright citrus acidity underneath. Intense. Wild fruit.James Suckling | 97 JSRich aromas of blackberry and raspberry jam, with hints of licorice. Full-bodied, with soft, round tannins and a clean, fresh finish. Balanced and refined. Perfect now, but will improve.--1997 Italian blind retrospective. Drink now through 2014. 3,500 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WSThe 1997 Sammarco is starting to show the early signs of oxidation in its bouquet, which suggests it is best enjoyed sooner rather than later. There is plenty of depth, but probably also limited potential from here on out. Like the 1998, the 1997 is giving all it has right now, and will continue to hold based on its huge core of fruit, but I wouldn’t push my luck too far.Antonio Galloni | 93 AG

95
WS
As low as $150.00
1997 col dorcia brunello di montalcino Brunello

Understated at first, the 1997 Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino pulls you close to the glass, showing black cherry, hints of sage and crushed stone, blossoming further and gaining richness with each swirl, adding notes of dusty cedar spice box, cacao powder, leather strap and dried flowers. On the palate, silky textures give way to fleshy red berry fruits, offset by saturating minerality and acids, while remaining energetic and leaning further toward the savory spectrum. The finish is long, still showing hints of fine tannin, yet the message here is elegance. The 1997 is simply gorgeous. It offers many years of positive evolution in store for readers who can be patient.Vinous Media | 94 VM

90
ST
As low as $105.00
1997 Conterno Fantino Barolo Parussi
As low as $105.00
1997 conterno fantino barolo sori ginestra Barolo

The 1997 Barolo Sori Ginestra exhibits a deep ruby/purple color in addition to complex aromas of tobacco smoke and gloriously sweet, jammy cherry liqueur. Ripe, opulent, and full-bodied, with huge amounts of glycerin and extract, yet high tannin in the finish, this 1997 needs 4-5 years of cellaring, and should keep for 20+ years. This is a super-impressive Barolo.Robert Parker | 92 RPDark ruby-garnet. Plum, prune and vanilla bean on the nose. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a long, caressing, textured finish. Delicious already.--1997 Italian blind retrospective. Drink now through 2015.Wine Spectator | 92 WSGood deep red, with a hint of amber at the rim. Exotic aromas of black raspberry, roast coffee, and smoky, charred oak; shows a pronounced torrefaction aspect. Less dense and less primary than the ’98; seems a bit soft in the middle, almost too ripe, with its texture suppressed by the recent bottling. But this is already wonderfully aromatic in the mouth and impressively concentrated and long. Finishes with very ripe but substantial tannins. A bit tricky to taste today.Vinous Media | 91+ VM

92
RP
As low as $135.00
1997 Dal Forno Romano Nettare
As low as $89.95
1997 ornellaia Super Tuscan/IGT

Fruit and complexity as well as freshness and richness. Beautiful nose with extraordinary aromas of prunes, licorice, and dried flowers with rosemary undertones. Full-bodied and velvety textured. So beautiful to drink now, but obviously has a long future ahead.James Suckling | 97 JSDark ruby red. Shows intense blackberry, currant, fresh herb and mineral character on the nose. Full-bodied, with ultrafine tannins and a long, caressing finish. Still young and powerful.--1997 Italian blind retrospective. Best after 2009. 11,415 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WSProbably the finest (and most sumptuous) Ornellaia yet produced, the 1997 has it all. A dense purple color offers up smoky espresso and jammy black cherry aromas wrapped in new oak. Full-bodied, opulent, thick, and juicy, this low acid, seamless classic can be drunk now and over the next 15+ years.Robert Parker | 94 RP The estate’s 1997 Ornellaia (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc) combines the large-framed opulence of the 1999 with the slightly more herbal notes found in the 1998. It is a big, plump wine packed with layers of fruit and well-integrated oak, showing outstanding length and the telltale note of sweetness on the finish that defines this vintage. Despite its approachable nature today, the 1997 appears to have enough structure to drink well for another decade. Both the 1997 Ornellaia and Masseto enjoyed a very strong showing in this tasting. Antonio Galloni | 93 AG

95
RP
As low as $1,240.00
1997 paolo scavino barolo bric del fiasc Barolo

From a well-known Castiglione Falletto vineyard, the 1997 Barolo Bric del Fiasc reveals the essence of cherry jam in its massive constitution. It is a powerful, full-bodied effort displaying pronounced black cherry liqueur-like aromas and flavors, huge extract and glycerin, and 14.5-15% alcohol. Remarkably pure, delineated, and balanced for a wine of such massiveness, it still needs another 2-3 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2020.Robert Parker | 95 RPDark ruby red. Absolutely gorgeous aromas of crushed berry and fresh flowers, with mushroom and spice undertones. Full-bodied, with chewy, rich tannins and a tangy acidity. This still needs time to come together. Very chewy.--1997 Italian blind retrospective. Best after 2010. 265 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WSThe 1997 is a flashy, opulent Bric del Fiasc, with layers of super-ripe dark fruit, chocolate, tar and alcohol that burst onto the palate in a display of awesome concentration and length. It is a big, weighty Barolo that promises to drink well for at least another decade.Antonio Galloni | 92 AG

95
WS
As low as $230.00
1997 Rocche Dei Manzoni Barolo Vigna d'la Roul

The 1997 Barolo Vigna d’La Roul reveals espresso characteristics, intermixed with chocolate, caramel, leather, and black cherry/berry fruit. Full-bodied and smoky, with a supple texture as well as hedonistic, luxuriously fat, fleshy appeal, it can be consumed now and over the next 12-15 years.Robert Parker | 90 RPDeep red-ruby. Extravagant, somewhat sauvage aromas of smoked meat, toffee, nuts and red berries. At once fatter, deeper and more vinous than the Vigna Big, but can’t quite match the ’98 version for precision or freshness. This has more supporting fat for its substantial tannins. Quite persistent on the finish.Vinous Media | 90 VM

As low as $160.00
1997 tommaso bussola amarone vigneto alto Italy (Other)

The prodigious 1997 Amarone Vigneto Alto TB is reminiscent of Henri Bonneau’s 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins. The lofty 16% alcohol is barely noticeable. Yields were a minuscule 20 hectoliters per hectare. Sadly, there are only 300 cases of this extraordinary Amarone. It boasts notes of smoke, truffle oil, blackberries, plums, and earthy, concentrated black currant jam. Layered, thick, full-bodied, and dry, with extraordinary purity as well as definition, it is an amazing achievement. While not for everybody, this is a singular, impeccably balanced wine. Anticipated maturity: now-2020.Robert Parker | 96 RP

96
RP
As low as $279.00
1998 imparato montevetrano Italy Red

I have been extolling the virtues of this wine, produced in partnership with the owner Silvia Imparato and consulting oenologist Riccardo Cotarella, for nearly a decade. I love its individualistic style. Each year, regardless of vintage conditions, it offers up compelling amounts of blueberry, blackberry, and black raspberry fruit presented in a distinctive, medium to full-bodied, fruit-driven, complex personality. It also exhibits a touch of minerals, marvelous purity and symmetry, as well as the potential for 10-20 years of evolution.The 1998 is an outstanding success, with elegance allied to power and intensity. Montevetrano’s hallmark blackberry and black raspberry component is present as well as beautiful purity/symmetry, and a long, medium to full-bodied, highly-concentrated finish. Sadly, production is a mere 2,000 bottles from a 4-acre vineyard planted in 1991 with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Aglianico. Like most of the wines made under the supervision of Riccardo Cotarella, it is aged in new French oak, and bottled with neither fining nor filtration. The 1998 should drink well for 10-15 years.Robert Parker | 92 RPThe 1998 is another excellent vintage for drinking today. Although this isn’t the most complex Montevetrano I am struck by how primary the wine is. The 1998 is open in its dark fruit with a soft, accessible personality that is similar to the 2000. Sweet, silky tannins round out the long finish. Readers who prefer layers of tertiary complexity will want to cellar the 1998 for a few more years, but from a textural standpoint, it is a highly rewarding wine today.Antonio Galloni | 92 AGDark ruby in color, with aromas of currants, berries and tar. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a long, berry, vanilla aftertaste. Needs time to come together. Another gorgeous red from Montevetrano, though not as great as the ’97. Best after 2002. 1,100 cases made.Wine Spectator | 90 WS

94
ST
As low as $130.00
1998 lamborghini campoleone rosso Italy (Other)

The 1998 Campoleone, is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Sangiovese. Just under 1,000 cases were produced. It is an impressive, exceptional effort. An opaque purple color is accompanied by knock-out aromas of new saddle leather, roasted espresso, chocolate, blackberries, and grilled steak. This rich, multilayered, full-bodied, moderately tannic wine is deep and serious. Cellar it for 2-3 years and consume it over the following 12-15. This is emerging as one of the finest wines of central-south Italy.Robert Parker | 91 RPFruit explosion on the nose, with berries, cherries, blackberries and violets. Black color. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a clean, fruity aftertaste. Needs more fruit on the finish to get more points. Not as great as the ’97, but still outstanding. Best after 2003. 1,650 cases made.Wine Spectator | 91 WS

91
RP
As low as $89.95
1998 le pupille saffredi Super Tuscans/IGT

A wonderfully silky and seductive red. Intense aromas of ripe plums and cherries, with hints of vanilla. Full-bodied, with soft velvety tannins and a long, fruity finish. Best after 2003. 1,250 cases made.Wine Spectator | 92 WSNew consultant Riccardo Cotarella’s first vintage saw the blend shift more to Merlot (40%), with 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Alicante. The colour is notably deeper than the 1995. A dark-fruit nose with a whiff of vanilla-oak is followed by an assertive, fruity palate with touches of chocolate and coffee. Initially it’s velvety, but the tannins begin to take over and it finishes on a dry, slightly grainy note. Drinking Window 2020 - 2021Decanter | 91 DECA blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot, this opens with aromas of red currant, clove and toast. The structured, elegant palate doles out plum, sage and tobacco alongside fine-grained tannins. Drink 2017–2022Wine Enthusiast | 91 WEThe 1998 impresses for its considerable richness. Like so many Italian wines of this period, the 1998 Saffredi shows a determined attempt to extract as much concentration as possible. There is no arguing the wine has aged exceptionally well, but in hindsight many of the subtler nuances Saffredi is capable of are buried under masses of fruit and excessive French oak.Antonio Galloni | 90 AG

92
WS
As low as $105.00
1998 poggio antico brunello di montalcino Brunello

Gorgeous aromas of berries, cherries and fresh porcini turn floral after a few minutes in the glass. Full-bodied, with a lovely silky tannin structure and a long, rich and subtle fruit character on the finish. Very serious. Best after 2005. 4,310 cases made.Wine Spectator | 91 WS

As low as $105.00
1998 radikon merlot Italy Red
As low as $230.00

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