??? ?? Castellare di Castell ina I Sodi di San Niccolò Toscana IGT 2001 (Sangioveto /Malvasia Nera; 30-36 months in 80 per cent new oak)
Beautifully developed aromas of sour cherry, forest fruits and truffles. The palate is lively and juicy, with fleshy cherry, rhubarb and redcurrant. Soft, powdery tannin complements a complex, toasty oak finish.
??? ?? Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia DOC 2004 (85 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon , with Cabernet Franc ; 20 months in barriques, one-third new)
It's a blockbuster, huge and densely packed with smoky black fruit, but it's too early for drinking.
??? ? Ruffino Santedame Chianti Classico DOCG 2006 (85 per cent Sangiovese, 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, unoaked)
Very aromatic, cherry and blackcurrant nose. Pure fruit on an invitingly lively palate, rich and creamy in texture. Great balance of fruit and soft tannin.
??? San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2004 (100 per cent Sangiovese; 24 months in predominantly large Slavonian botti)
Elegantly classy, traditional style with rich, toasty fruit and a smooth, chocolatey finish. Worth keeping for up to five years more.
??? Marchesi Mazzei Tenuta Belguardo Maremma Toscana IGT 2004 (90 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon , with Cabernet Franc ; 18 months in new French o ak barriques)
A complex mouthful of dense, black berries and fruits, with a vanilla rich finish. Great potential here.
??? ? Gaja Sperss Langhe DOC 2001
(94 per cent Nebbiolo , with Barbera)
A deceptively shy, black cherry compote nose leads to an explosion of rich, sour cherry fruit, cloaked by dark liquorice and herbal tones, all under a firm layer of tannin. Still very much a baby.
?? ? Fontanafredda Serralunga d'Alba Barolo DOCG 2003 (100 per cent Nebbiolo ; minimum two years in large Slavonian and French oak botti)
Lifted, spicy, black cherry and strawberry nose. Plenty of elegant fruit on the palate, subtle and creamy with a nicely weighted layer of grainy tannin. Cherry and sandalwood spice on a great length finish.
??? Michele Chiarlo Airone Monferrato DOC 2005 (50 per cent Barbera, 30 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 per cent Syrah, the latter two aged separately for eight months in new barriques)
Nose packed with cherry, strawberry, blackcurrant and cedar wood notes. Intensely fruity, bright on the palate with toasty wood and creamy new oak on the finish.
??? ? Ruffino La Solatia Toscana IGT 2006 (90 per cent barrel -fermented Chardonnay , with Viognier)
Floral nose with apricot hints. Complex and mineral-rich with peach and apricot on the mid-palate and keen acidity. Big but well balanced. Great cellaring potential.
??? ? Cà del Bosco Chardonnay Terre di Franciacorta DOC 2004 (stainless steel and barrel fermentation)
Full, buttery, spiced baked lemon and melon aromas. Bags of fruit and crisp acidity keeps it in line. Balanced, generous and long.
??? Folonari Tenute del Cabreo La Pietra Chardonnay Toscana IGT 2005 (12 months in 50 per cent new French oak)
Stylish, creamy and voluptuous on the palate.