Category Archives: Italian Varietals

Palmina Dolcetto 2011

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $20
Pomegranate and cranberry fruit with notes of pink pepper, almonds and orange zest. Medium bodied, fruit focused with a prominent, but pleasant, acidity on the finish. A playful wine — thoroughly enjoyable and quite a lark. Indeed, a rhapsody: I see a little Dolcetto of a man; Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? A good wine. (Reviewed 4/13/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Italian Varietals

Clendenen Nebbiolo ‘The Pip’ 2007

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $25
Fresh flavors of raspberry and tart cherry with notes grapefruit, cilantro and stone minerals. Light bodied, focused with bright acidity and a pucker on the finish. It’s a bouncy wine, full of life far more vivacious than its age might suggest. Like one of those fellows that harmonizes with Gladys, this one is smooth and skilled, but the upper range alone has its limits. A good wine. (Reviewed 3/2/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Italian Varietals

Castello Branfi ‘Belnero’ 2010

TUSCANY | ITALY | $28
Black cherry and blueberry — beautifully fruit forward — with deep floral notes, organic soil, cigar box, orange zest and a hint of Pernod. Medium bodied, shimmering silky texture and an enjoyable tannic finish that beckons for an additional taste of the evening meal, or perhaps just another sip. Drinkable indeed, one simply can’t help oneself. She’s the one at the dance the boys can’t help but ogle. Sangiovese with “small amounts” of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A very good wine. Wine provided by Wine Chateau. (Reviewed 1/30/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Italian Varietals, Italy

Terrabianca Campaccio 2007

TUSCANY | ITALY | $30
Dried cherry, purple plum and orange peel with flavors of licorice, allspice, bay and soil. Complex yet easily accessible and very well balanced, full of deep low notes with a silky texture and pleasantly dry, lingering finish. Not your favorite Three Tenor, but a deep baritone-basso or two — with exceptional timbre: Imagine a harmony of Johnny Cash and Barry White. 70% Saigonese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/31/13)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Italian Varietals, Italy

Foxen 7200 Sangiovese Guglielmo Grosso 2008

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $32
A complex integration of cherry and blackberry fruit with ginger-spice cookie and candied orange peel, plus notes of raspberry, plum, clove, graphite and tar. There’s a fruit cake-like quality at play here, and this makes for a most interesting wine. Enjoyable, complex, superbly integrated. It’s that garish early-Madonna fashion: many disparate components coming together to create something that works — but no undergarment as outerwear here. A very good wine. (Reviewed 12/30/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Italian Varietals

Argiano ‘Non Confunditur’ Rosso Toscano 2009

TUSCANY | ITALY | $20
Concentrated blackberry and dried cherry with a savory earthy structure and notes of graphite, rosemary and citrus pith. Medium bodied and easy drinking, nicely integrated and reasonably complex with a smooth texture and a dry, tannic finish. Lean, dark and well-tailored, he moves easily and confidently through narrow, rustic streets — nothing to worry, always in the now. A Super Tuscan blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot 20% Syrah, 20% Sangiovese. A very good wine. (reviewed 12/23/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, Cabernet Sauvignon, Italian Varietals, Italy

Ruffino ‘Modus’ 2009

TUSCANY | ITALY | $25
Forward boysenberry, plum and pomegranate with flavors of dried cranberry, nutmeg, tar and camphor. A lively, medium-bodied wine showing focused fruit and nice acidity with a dry finish. Nimble on the corners, quick and responsive, a pleasure to drive — an Alpha Romeo. A Super Tuscan blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. A very good wine. (Reviewed 12/9/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Italian Varietals, Italy

Ortman Sangiovese ‘O2 Series’ 2009

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $20
Light to medium bodied showing raspberry, plum and sour cherry fruit currant, forest floor and chalk. Fresh flavors, good balance and beautiful clarity. Lively with bright energy, like a child improvising a playful Spring dance. A good to very good wine. (Reviewed 7/8/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Italian Varietals

Stolpman ‘La Croce’ 2004

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $40

Concentrated cherry with dried cranberry and wild berries backed by dry earth and cardamom. Notes of red beet, anise and pepper bring interest. Focused and fruit forward, but vertically complex with a laden mouth feel, drying tannins and a potent 15.2% alcohol. 50% Syrah, 50% Sangiovise: “The Cross,” they call it, and Parker blessed it with a 94. That’s his to bear; I say it’s a very good wine. (Reviewed 9/1/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Italian Varietals, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Sean Thackrey ‘Pleiades XVIII Old Vines’

CALIFORNIA | $24

Bursting with boysenberry, blackberry and cherry fruit. An odd stockpot of Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Vigonier, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon “to name a few,” it’s said. It all works for an enjoyable and accessible fruit forward sip with a tart fruit finish. Age or aggressive decanting will help smooth the sharp peaks. An eccentric one, both mysterious and charming — enjoyable company, though perhaps not frequently. A good wine. (Reviewed 10/30/10)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Italian Varietals, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre