1999 Argiano, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 93) Can’t help but stir up a hint of controversy with the 1999 Argiano Brunello, as this bottling predates the exposure of the Brunellogate scandal with Argiano being one of the initially named culprits. Ultimately Argiano was acquitted of charges, and in my view this bottle reinforces the pure Sangiovese Grosso make up of this wine. Showing a classical translucent faded garnet hue, the bouquet evokes a sense of rural Tuscany with notes of sous bois, hints of spice, dried red berries and a pressed floral element. On the palate it is medium-to-full bodied, that expected weightlessness, excellent acidity and a long, smooth, silky tannin-laced finish. Archetypal in every sense of Brunello. This bottle was SO’d for day and followed for two nights being served directly from bottle. Drink now and over the coming decade.

1999 Fontanabianca, Barbaresco, Sori Burdin (RT 93) Sourced from the Bordini Cru, since roughly 2006 it has been produced under the name Bordini Sori Burdin and since 2010 has been simply called Bordini. SO’d for the day, then followed over the course of two nights and poured directly from bottle. Despite its 16 years of age, it remains tight out of the starting gate and takes a few hours in the glass to truly begin to be expressive. Molded in a classic frame with a modern twist, it shows a deep, dark ruby hue with nary a tinge of ruby on the rim. Revealing a muscular, floral build, ripe red berries, violets and an accent of damp forest floor deliver a big nose. On the palate it is both rich and opulent, while conveying a weightless finish with fine, velvety tannins. On day two it really opened-up showing an even more expressive character. There’s a terrific future ahead for this beauty, drink now and the coming 12-15+ years.

1996 Massolino, Barolo Riserva, Rionda (RT 96+) I’ve followed this wine with great interest since its release, having bought a case and half at the time. It has never been a forward, easy to drink bottling. Rather, as it approaches 19 years of age it remains shy, compact and hard to get it to wriggle out of its structured shell. This was SO’d for half a day before sampling the first glass, where it revealed a lean and hard wine. Recorked and kept standing in the cellar, on day two it began to show its potential revealing a masculine, massively endowed, darkly fruited expression of Serralunga Barolo. It took until its third day to unfurl its inner magic, when it spiraled from the glass showing notes of black cherry, menthol, balsam and a ferrous quality I often associate with Rionda and other nearby Crus.  The balance is superb, while maintaining its’ distinctly 1996 character with high acidity, firm but velvety tannins, and a near weightless mouthfeel. If you’re opening this now and over the coming five years I highly recommend a double decant prior to serving, as this is a wine that needs ample oxygen to show its potential.

2003 Scacciadiavoli, Sagrantino de Montefalco (RT 90) Given a short amount of Slow O, this showed an initial flash of charred oak, which vanished in a short time in the glass. Typifying Sagrantino, its dark ruby, opaque hue, leads way to an elixir of mentholated, deep red raspberry liqueur, Tuscan scruff and hints of cedar and dried violets. With time, open notes of late harvest fruit show up, but the heat of the vintage dominates the fruit. Good overall balance, the acidity holds it together, with soft, dry tannins, another sign of the vintage. Surprisingly it has absorbed all of the high toast oak it showed in its youth, I’m impressed! A surprisingly enjoyable Sagrantino from a challenging vintage for this bottling.