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I enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot in Italian wine

This winter I have been interested in Italian wines that are made from non-native grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.  Tim has walked me through his selections and there is quite a range of these wines available for under $30 with vintages going back to 2007.  Of the five wines featured in this post the two younger vintages could stand with further aging.  The 2012 Le Macchiole, Bolgheri Rosso and 2011 Tenuta Di Valgiano, Palistorti di Valgiano, Colline Lucchesi Rosso are completely different wines.  The former has no Sangiovese but that is not missed due to the lifted nose, minerally black fruit, and tension in the mouth. The later is mostly Sangiovese and while it comes across as young it has great cut and just the right amount of greenhouse notes.  I recommend you purchase both of these.  Of the older bottles the 2009 Arcanum, Il Fauno di Arcanum, Toscana is my clear favorite.  It only has a splash of Sangiovese so now that it is entering maturity, the cedar box infused darker fruit and structure clearly speak to a Bordeaux blend.  It is a great price and in a great state so you should drink many bottles of this while the younger wines age.  The 2010 Umberto Cesari, Liano, Rubicone was too hedonistic and showy for me but it is tasty and should have many fans.  Finally, the 2009 Guado al Melo, Bolgheri Rosso was almost too earthy for me on the nose.  It did clean up but it ultimately proved soft in flavor.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 Le Macchiole, Bolgheri Rosso – $26
Imported by Vintus.  This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a fresh nose of lifted aromas.  In the mouth were dense flavors of blue and black fruit with powdery tannins and good tension.  Minerally black flavors developed along with grippy cola, juicy acidity, and a good aftertaste.  With air more tart black fruit and salivating acidity came out.  Young.  **(*) 2017-2022.


2011 Tenuta Di Valgiano, Palistorti di Valgiano, Colline Lucchesi Rosso- $28
Imported by Cantiniere Imports and Distributing.  This wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah sourced from vines averaging 14 years of age.  The wine was aged for 12 months in 5% new French oak barrels followed by 6 months in cement vat.  Alcohol 14%.  This bore a young nose followed by rounded, powdery ripe black cherry flavors.  It showed an attractive hint of greenhouse flavors, almost juicy acidity, and a little woodsy tannins.  Though a bit forward and approachable this really is a short-term ager.  With extended air the flavors turned towards the blacker side with a hint of tar, good acidity, good cut, and a citric and mineral infused finish.  *** 2017-2023.


2010 Umberto Cesari, Liano, Rubicone – $33
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines averaging 15 years of age.  It was fermented in stainless steel, aged for 18 months in a variety of oak sizes.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This had a light, attractive nose.  In the mouth were forward, hedonistic flavors of chocolate infused fruit.  The wine had some weight, ripe, chocolate tannins, and robustness before the drier finish.  This young, showy wine is lavish with its oak flavors.  The wine was quite filling and clearly needs time to integrate but remains completely drinkable. **(*) 2017-2023.


2009 Arcanum, Il Fauno di Arcanum, Toscana – $26
Imported by Sovereign Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 61% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 2% Sangiovese, and 1% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were maturing, claret-like flavors of cedar box mixed with ripe, tight blue and black fruit,  that had a greenhouse hint.  The finish brought ripe and billowy flavors that filled the mouth and left tannins on the gums.  This tasty and flavorful wine became a little spicy and earthy with air.  **** Now – 2020.


2009 Guado al Melo, Bolgheri Rosso – $26
Imported by Artisan Wines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot that was aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was quite earthy at first but it cleaned up to reveal mushrooms.  In the mouth was a black foundation of fruit that was soft at first.  Some acidity was there but the powdery roundness lacked definition.  The wine did tighten up in the finish to reveal some subtle tannins.  Not my style.  ** Now-2019.


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