(2017) A beefy 14.5% abv for this Classico Riserva, so there is abundant ripeness though it refuses to cross over into excess. There's some bloodiness and tobacco to the deep-set fruit, enlived by a little cherry and nice sense of graphite, classy oak treatment too. In the mouth it certainly is sweet and mouth-filling, the rich, thick fruit always edged by that hint of gamy, cedary, iron oxide character and its excellent acid structure. Tannins are creamy and refined in a gorgeous, modern Chianti.
(2016) As he approaches his 80th birthday Gianfranco Soldera is still fully engaged and very much in command of this small, iconic estate in the hills of Tuscany. In a vertical tasting, all of the wines were just superb: truly world class red wines of infinite complexity and beauty and huge ageing potential. This 2006 had such a wonderful perfume, a massive tobacco and ashy background to pure, ripe cherry fruit, it is just fabulously complex. There's so much of that racy, vital character against immense sweetness of sour cherry and tobacco again, the texture and tannins creamy, but the agility and elegant length just majestic.
(2016) A delicate salmon to more vivid pink, this is a really pretty blend of Merlot and Sangiovese from Barone Ricasole's Tuscan vineyards. It has plenty of spark and life about it, the crispness and bright fruitiness enhanced by the refined, but decisive acid core. Most enjoyable and versatile, from garden sipping to fish and seafood matching. Roberts & Speight have 50p off at time of review.
(2015) What a treat to have this class act in our case. From arguably Tuscany's greatest terroir, this Sangiovese was vinified in stainless steel before maturation in large Slavonian casks - the recipe for many of my favourite Brunelli. It comes from an organic estate farmed by the same family since the 1930s, and opens with the most evocative perfume of blood and tar, tobacco and ripe cherries, the fruit and smokines swirling in the glass, spice and pepper too. In the mouth that long cask ageing has softened the edges of a firm, intense wine, 15% alcohol adding to the plushness and sense of quiet authority, the palate dense but not not dull, enlivened by the spices, the juicy acidity and the tight liquoricy tannins. One to enjoy now with a steak or lamb, or to lay away for up to a decade.
(2015) Querciabella Labelled as a Toscana IGT (so a white 'Super-Tuscan' in effect), Querciabella's homage to Bâtard-Montrachet has always been one of Italy's best white wines. It's expensive, but each time I have tasted it, it has never failed to impress. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, it is fermented and aged in French barriques, 30% of which are new. It has a haunting, beautiful fragrance, all the floral charm and subtle oatmeal richness, refined and agile mineral balance and such a flood of peachy fruit on the palate. Immensely fresh, but with almond, subtle honey, and terrific balancing acidity. Delicious, complex and understated, this is indeed a great white wine.
(2015) A serious young Chianti Classico, which after 15 months in French oak and 15 more in bottle is just beginning to hit its stride. There's a great solidity about the fruit, cedar and tobacco spice on the nose, but also something elegantly kirsch-like and floral, and a suave sense of depth. In the mouth it has real concentration - much more than in many Chianti wines - but not at the expense of elegance and vitality: the fruit is dense, the tannins firm and meaty, and the cherry freshness of the acidity beautifully balanced. This should cellar well for 5 to 10 years very easily.
(2015) Elevated vineyards at 450m altitude for this small estate with vines on average 25 years old, and farmed organically using only natural yeasts. The wine spends 40 months in 300-litre French oak barrels and has 14.5% abv. A richness to the nose of this wine, a touch of strawberry and juicy orange too, and very pretty lift. Lovely freshness to the acidity and fruit on the palate, elegant and spicy at the same time, keen tannins and yet there is density and structure to suggest good ageing potential.
(2015) From an ambitious estate founded in 2001 alongside sister estates in Barolo and Bolgheri, the vineyards for this wine range from 350m - 450m in altitude on clay and loam soils said to be rich in calcium and iron. It spent 12 months French barriques, 50% new, followed by 24 months in Slavonian 300-litre barrels and has an abv of 15.5%. Very refined, very charming, with discreet classy oak giving a gentle Sandalwood fragrance along with the cherry fruit. Beautifully balanced palate too, creamy fruit and full texture, there's a hint of coffee and plushness but the tight tannins and spritely acidity give length.
(2015) A selection of grapes from a relatively new vineyard in the north-western corner of the region (which has a reputation for more elegant wines), this spends 12 months in new and used French barriques, then a further 12 months in large Slavonian casks. It has an abv of 14.5%. It has a little softening to the colour and a gorgeous nose, warmly suffused with woodsmoke and cocoa, an autumnal feel, with deep briar and berries. On the palate there's a real creaminess of texture here, the fruit becoming a little more focused on blackcurrant and liquorice-spice, plenty of wood in evidence still, and a long finish on tannin, spice and black plum and cherry skins.
(2015) The cheapest red wine in this selection delivers pretty well for its price. Hallmark, bright, youthful and unoaked cherry aromas, a touch bubblegummy, but the freshness is there, aided by a hint of herbs and olive. On the palate it balances dry, earthy red berry fruit and cool, lightly vegetal notes into a nicely savoury, quite chewy whole. Good pasta-bashing stuff this.