MANZONE DOLCETTO D'ALBA 2001, Piedmont, Italy, 13.0%, #715680 $16.95
James Suckling gave it a 90 and says: "Fantastic, with an intense, complex nose, featuring ripe damson, Indian spice and gamy, meaty aromas. Medium- to full-bodied, fresh and fruity with velvety tannins and a chocolate-tinged finish. Drink now." (www.winespectator.com , November 15, 2002). My notes: A more accurate description was in Beppi's column Jul 26, 2003: "quite tannic and firm..... showing cherry flavour and a hint of dried herbs. (Vintage release July 26, 2003.)" So I bought a few and laid them down 'til now. Nose is a soft ripe red cherry. Medium-bodied, light tannin and acid balanced with cherry flavours with an herb edge. A dry sipper but good with burgers, and should be good (but not full-bodied) with teriyaki beef, prime rib or even not-to-spicy pastas. Vintages release July 26, 2003.
GEOGRAFICO CHIANTI COLLI SENESI 2001, Tuscany, Italy, 12.0%, Opimian $11.58
My notes: Ordered on April 12, 2002 described as "Still rather dumb, needing time to develop a softer profile but one already detects the unctuousness of the sun-ripened fruit." And it was 'dumb' when first tasted but now (January 2005)... the wait was definitely worthwhile. A touch of Tuscan red in the colour with full cherry and plum aromas bloom in the glass carrying through to flavours on the tongue. Medium-bodied with just enough acid and a soft tannin edge to add interest. Good with red pastas, pork, even an Italian BMT Sub sandwich with a few jalapenos.
SALTRAM MAMRE BROOK SHIRAZ 2000, Barossa, Australia, 14.0%, #906677 $19.95
My notes: Lush berries and full-bodied on the first swallow. Ruby red with long legs when the glass is swirled predicting the soft roundness in the mouth. Whether slowly sipping or with meat dishes Saltram 2000 hasn't disappointed since purchased a year ago. Delisted for now - I'm hoping the new vintage will still come this quarter. Neither the grapes nor recipe should change from this producer - other Saltram labels are in a much higher price bracket.
BARONE RICASOLI TOSCANA VENDEMMIA 2002, Italy, 13.0%, #241844 $13.10
LCBO describes this as: "Ruby red with brick edges; complex nose of spicy fruit and earthy notes; warm fruit flavours with soft tannins and spice in the finish." and Beppi (Jan 29, 2005) describes this as "... drinks like a $20 Chianti." My notes: Don't I wish! Decanting took the off odour/flavour away but didn't increase the slight "ripe cherry" flavour. What's left is a fairly uninteresting medium-bodied red with a dry finish. This is a General listing