2007 Sportoletti, Umbria IGT, Villa Fidelia Rosso (RT 90) This was SO’d for the day, then served directly from bottle as there is virtually no sediment. Followed over the course of three nights. Dark, deep and bordering on opaque, I hardly recognize the classic Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc. The immediate impression of overwhelming toasted oak emerges, followed by black berry, black cherry, ripe plums and anise. The mouthfeel is rich and generous, with low acids and smooth ripe tannins. By day three the toasted oak had integrated, leaving a far more fruit driven style of wine. While it certainly has its following, this is clearly not my style of Umbrian red. Drink 2020-2030+. Current vintages are available in the $20-25 range.

2008 Montepeloso, Toscana IGT, Nardo (RT 94) Popped and poured, then savored over dinner. At age 10 the 2008 Nardo remains a bit of a brooding beast, dark, rich and massive in all dimensions. With a bit of time in the glass notes of black berry, plums, forest floor and faint notes of leather emerge. Pure and seamless on the palate, the mouthfeel reveals a round richness and low acidity with fine grained, sweet ripe tannins. This is a luxurious blend of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Marsellan, the percentages of which vary from vintage to vintage. It is aged in 2nd, 3rd and 4th passage barrique, with small production of less than 400 cases per vintage. Drink 2022 – 2032+ Nardo is an expensive bottling that typically runs in $100-125+ range. Irrespective of the price, this is world class winemaking from Fabio Chiarelotto.

1996 Marcarini, Barolo, Brunate (RT 95) SO’d for the day, then served directly from bottle. Showing a very 1996 character is all respects: taught, a bit stern and starting to show beautiful late Fall tertiary notes. The hue is garnet, with a deep overall cast and the bouquet wafts up notes of dried raspberry and cherry, withered rose petals, notes of minerality and a pungent balsam punctuation mark! The palate is lithe and weightless with a balance that waivers between firm and engaging, as bright, fresh acidity and clean, but notable tannins bring the wine back around again. Very enchanting! On day two it was drinking very well, hardly softening a bit and typical of 1996s. Drink now – 2036+ Marcarini continues to be a terrific value in the Barolo market. The 1996 is currently trading in the $100 range, while recent vintages sell in the $50s–upper 60s.