I was looking around for older bottles of Chianti wine when I was sidetracked by a few vintages of Castello Monsanto’s Super Tuscan wine Nemo. I randomly decided to open a bottle Friday night so I opted for the 2003 Castello Monsanto, Nemo Il Mulino, Tuscany which is the youngest I have. There is a lovely nose of blue and black fruit which is matched by deep, balanced flavor in the mouth. It is more flavorful than complex with the sensation that bottle age has made it the wine accessible. As such, it is a very satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon from Tuscany.
2003 Castello Monsanto, Nemo Il Mulino, Tuscany
Imported by MW Imports. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in oak. Alcohol 14%. This is a deep, earthy wine of blue and black fruit. At this age the wine is still has some fresh structure and grip which provides a pleasing amount of texture. More importantly the good, deep flavor is hard to resist. ***(*) Now – 2027.
I am pleased by one of the latest releases of Fornacina for the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino is a perfect follow up to the savory 2013 vintage. The 2014 vintage is particularly lively with plenty of juicy, almost rugged fruit supported by a very fine supportive structure. I enjoyed it youthful state but some might want the tannins to mellow for another year or two. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino – $18
This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then aged in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose is of moderately deep plums. In the mouth there is an almost prickly start making for a lively entry of tart red fruit then black fruit. The structure is obvious throughout leaving a layer of very fine tannins on the gums. With air the wine builds a ripe, juicy start followed by a mulberry middle and firm, stone accented finish. *** Now – 2023.
Lou brought a trio of bottles over to go with Thanksgiving leftovers. Coupled with a magnum of Bandol we tasted through some diverse wines. The 1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is from a moderate vintage and provides enough interest for a small glass. The wine tastes as if the fruit were not quite ripe when picked. Despite that criticism, the wine itself is chugging along and in no way decrepit. From a much better vintage the 2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico looks significantly younger than its age. It is full of color and dark red fruit delivered with some bright acidity. While it is not particularly complex, it is in fine shape and made for solid drinking. The magnum of 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol proved to be my favorite wine of the night. It is a touch soft at first then opens up to plenty of clean, maturing flavors with an attractive mineral streak. It even seemed racy for a bit. There is no mistaking the 2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes for any other grape. The aromas and flavors work in that lifted greenhouse or vegetal quality to good effect. Actually, the wine is surprisingly packed with flavor.
1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13.5%. More stemmy flavors the fruit at this point but the lifted fruit is still there in the form of bright, dry red fruit. It tastes a bit short of ripe fruit. With enough interest for a small glass it is more remarkable for holding up this long. * Now.
2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico
Imported by Paterno Wines International. Alcohol 13.5%. Surprisingly dark but on closer inspection there is a garnet hint on the edge. In the mouth are dark red fruit flavors, polished wood, and unfortunately a touch of heat in the end. The flavors are dry with a generally bright outlook. There is even some structure. Overall this is a very solid wine that is simply not too complex. ** Now – 2018.
2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol en magnum
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 85% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, and 5% Cinsault. Alcohol 14%. It is subtle for just a bit before the flavors accelerate through the mouth with a racy, mineral quality. *** Now – 2018.
2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. Fairly attractive nose of red and blue fruit marked by lifted greenhouse aromas. The flavors bear the same vegetal hint but it works well with the fruit. There is quite a bit of stuffing and freshness to make this enjoyable. ** Now – 2017.
My friend Sudip is a gambling man who is all for trying any old vintage of wine. A gamble and a bit of recklessness was all that was required to try the 1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany. Neil and Maria Empson started Monte Antico in 1977, some five years after founding their wine importing company. Monte Antico is a super-Tuscan wine, meaning it is a blend of Sangiovese with international varieties, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Super-Tuscans grew in popularity during 1970s. This particular wine is one I drank with some occurrence during my university years in the 1990s because it was affordable. I had no expectation it would be a decent drink or even palatable, being a budget wine, but the bottle looked good, the price was cheap, and it reminded me of times past. The color was in the autumnal brown spectrum and the nose was advanced, as in roasted earth. But in the mouth it was surprisingly round with hints of sweet fruit that developed into licorice. But for the nose it would rate higher.
Two wines from the same vintage makes for more fun. I expected the 1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva to be better than the Monte Antico and it was. This was another cheap purchase made years ago. After an hour of air, I simply pulled the cork. The wine gave all that it could. The fruit has departed leaving leather and mushroom but the lively, tense acidity still remains. It fades soon in the glass. Neither bottle was finished but other young wines were. Sudip had fun.
1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany
Shipped by Neil Empson. Imported by Wine Imports. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose initially smelled of roasted earth then celery. It is much better in the mouth, round with hints of sweet fruit. Certainly old but bits of fruit and licorice come out. Two stars for flavor but overall * Now.
1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva
Imported by Paterno Imports. Alcohol 13.5%. Though an advanced color it had a lively tension. It is simple at first and surprisingly closed. After an hour of air it opened up. All fruit gone having left just bottle aged flavors of leather, mushroom, and a very fine texture. ** Now.
We went through a variety of wines during a BBQ at our house earlier this month. I managed to jot down a just few notes. Unfortunately, the 1999 Ravenswood, Merlot Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley is no longer in a good drinking state even at the low price. The 2004 Sonador, Dreamer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is certainly lively and robust right now, only showing notes of maturity in the finish. There are attractive flavors and integration but it also reflects the warmth of Napa in its size. Lovers of big-scale wines will appreciate this more than me. I found that a small glass was just fine. I double-decanted the 2005 Il Fauno di Arcanum, Tuscany but it took several more hours for the wine to loosen up. The nose is fine. Anyone who smells it blind will immediately think of a Bordeaux blend. It is not ripe and generous, rather it sports just enough of everything to make it attractive now but it is truly still in a period of slow development. If you do not mind your Bordeaux from Tuscany than lay down several bottles. This could be quite good in several years. It was a group favorite.
1999 Ravenswood, Merlot Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley – $18
Alcohol 14.9%. A ripe sweetness surrounds prominent herbal flavors. Unfortunately, the wine is becoming unknit and the flavors are past prime. Not Rated.
2004 Sonador, Dreamer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, and 5% Merlot. Alcohol 14.8%. There are fine aromas of blue and black fruit intertwined with wood. The fine black fruit has a clear cedar note from the start. This is a big wine, no doubt, but there is a good integration of all components. You get a hint of maturity in the back end. A one glass at a time wine. ** Now – 2021.
2005 Il Fauno di Arcanum, Tuscany – $20
Imported by Sovereign Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 77% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.5%. A fine nose evocative of Bordeaux. The slight round start brings red and black fruit with flavors that are noticeably dry in the middle. The wine is still firm and slightly tannic but the watering acidity maintains balance through the perfumed aftertaste. After many hours of air it starts to open up. *** Now – 2026.
I believe the 2008 Montepescini, Chianti Colli Sensi Riserva is a distributor close-out, hence the low price for the vintage. This means you can drink a maturing Chianti as part of your daily routine. The aromas and flavors are actually quite good but the wine does come across as firm and controlled. Perhaps it will loosen up and improve with a bit of age. At $14 per bottle why not find out? This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2008 Montepescini, Chianti Colli Sensi Riserva – $14
Imported by Artisans & Vines. This wine is mostly Sangiovese with a bit of Canaiolo. Alcohol 14%. The proper nose add a little earthy and berry aromas. In the mouth are fine, slightly tense flavors of red fruit and wood. The flavors become blacker with progression until there is a controlled, ripe burst in the finish. With firm acidity and a firm finish this wine will continue to drink. ** Now – 2021.
Just a quick note before the holiday weekend. With the warmer and more humid weather this week we have enjoyed several bottles of Chianti in an effort to turn towards lighter wines. The 2009 Il Brunone, Chianti Classico is actually quite structured. A structured, tannic wine can be the last thing I want to drink on a warm evening but this bottle bears rugged tannins. They impart a youthful character and help the wine stand up to grilled cheeseburgers. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2009 Il Brunone, Chianti Classico – $17
Imported bt Shaw-Ross International Importers. This wine is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo that underwent alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel, malolactic fermentation in cement vats, then was aged 12-18 months in large casks. Alcohol 13.5%. The dark fruited nose matched the slightly robust, dry flavors of dark fruit in the mouth. This is a textured wine from the rugged tannins which provide a dry structure throughout. The fruity component bears some weight before the dark, dry, and slightly bitter finish. With air the wine turns a touch tart while also offering dry, floral flavors. **(*) Now – 2019.