December 30, 2016


1. 2012 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva ($23)
"Monsanto's 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva 50 Vendemmie is one of the most pedigreed wines of the year. Deep and resonant in the glass, but not at all heavy, the 2012 possesses magnificent complexity to match what I can only describe as a regal expression of Sangiovese. There is a level of purity and nuance to the 2012 that is hard to describe with words but that is very much front and center. Moreover, I can't think of too many wines from any region anywhere in the world that offer this level of quality for the money. Readers will not want to miss this stellar Riserva from Monsanto. Can the 2012 Il Poggio be better? We'll know in two years' time." Rated 93 Vinous / Antonio Galloni

2. 2013 Occhipinti Siccagno Nero D'Avola Sicily ($32)
The 2013 Nero d'Avola Siccagno opens to a dark color and thicker concentration. This is what distinguishes the Nero d'Avola grape from the other favorite varieties in Arianna Occhipinti's exciting portfolio. Also of interest is how this wine presents such authentic aromatic characteristics of dark cherry, balsam herb and black olive. The non-interventionist winemaking style gives plenty of room for varietal expression. This wine promises a steady evolution over the next five years. The Wine Advocate

3. 2013 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso Santo Spirito ($35)
The 2013 Etna Rosso Santo Spirito is an abundant and enriched expression from the darkened volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna Santo Spirito runs through parts of Passopisciaro at the heart of Etna's best production zones. This gorgeous wine opens to a dark garnet appearance with inkier colors of crimson and ruby. Crisp and crunchy tones of wild berry, cranberry, red rose and dark mineral characterize the mouthfeel. This was a difficult vintage that saw slow and uneven ripening for many producers. Marco De Grazia has evidently mastered when to harvest his fruit at optimal ripeness. Rated 92-94 The Wine Advocate

4. 2013 Donnafugata Sedara DOC Sicily ($11)
This is an easy-drinking expression of Nero d'Avola, but one that impresses nonetheless. The 2014 Sicilia Sedàra opens to a dark ruby and purple color with fresh aromas of cherry fruit, blackberry and dark plum. The wine is true to its varietal characteristics and you get distant notes of crushed almonds and pistachio at the back. The 2014 vintage offers very good quality at this attractive price point. Rated 89+ The Wine Advocate

5. 2010 IL Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino ($79)
The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is a striking wine that shows uncompromising varietal pureness, albeit in a most concentrated and elaborate form. This is what great Sangiovese is all about. There's so much happening on the nose and the wine brings you to cherry, spice, licorice, cured meat, pressed rose and grilled meat in equal measure. No one element overpowers the next. The mouthfeel is also tight and bright with the kind of fruit intensity that promises long cellar aging. This Brunello is only at the beginning of a long road ahead. The longer the wine stays in the glass, the more it offers in terms of complexity and intensity. This is a true standout that can be enjoyed for up to 20 years ahead. Rated 98 The Wine Advocate

6. 2010 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino ($42)
Fattoria dei Barbi's 2010 Brunello di Montalcino starts with a tightly wound personality that begins to unravel slowly, one delicate layer at a time. As it does, you become aware of dried fruit, cigar box, crushed mineral, plum, tar and cola. The wine puts on a beautiful display. I also loved the mouthfeel of this beautiful wine: It is tonic, tight and brimming with energy. Well-integrated oak notes give the wine a spot of softness and velvety spice. This is one beautiful Sangiovese. Rated 94 The Wine Advocate

7. 2009 Gulfi NeroSanlore IGT ($35)
Sweet aromas of toasted oak and baking spice emerge from the bouquet of the 2009 Nerosanlorè. This is a very elaborate red wine that shows the craft and the labor of the winemaker. The bouquet is thickly layered with aromas of ripe fruit, blackberry compote, tobacco and loads of spice derived from long oak aging. In addition, the wine offers ample tertiary aromas of licorice, resin and tar. This is a very attractive red that offers the full force and sunshine of Sicily in your glass. There is power and determination here with 14.5% alcohol. Rated 93 The Wine Advocate

8. 2008 Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella ($30)
This Amarone seems a tad older than it really is thanks to slightly aged aromas of cured beef, cigar box, earth and used leather. But the freshness of the fruit does come through on the palate, promising many more drinking years ahead. Rated 88 Wine Enthusiast Magazine