Preamble Tasting June 1999 
Viva Italia 
Richard Verling, Findlaters

This was a superb tasting, enhanced especially by salted almonds to die for! Prices are approximate.

1. Soave Classico 'Monteforte' Santi, 1998
Very little nose. Well balanced. Peachy almond finish. 85% Garganega and 15% Chardonnay.

2.Orvieto Classico 'Torricello' Bigi, 1998
Palate of almonds. Mineral taste, almond, well-balanced. Purported to taste of pistachio; maybe a hint in the aftertaste. Very nice.

3. Lugano Ca' dei Frati, 1998
Golden yellow, some bubbles (purposely) at the edge. Stern nose. Beautifully rounded, good buzz, some weight, a hint of sweetness, creamy/fruity, decidedly pineapple. This is 100% Trebbiano from near Lake Garda. The name means 'House of Brothers'. Excellent.

4. Montepuliano d'Abruzzo, La Regia Specula, 1996
Not at all the same thing as Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, which is from Montepulciano in Tuscany. This Montepulciano is the grape. Fine red colour, paricularly Italian ripe nose. Full but not heavy, balanced, fruitcake flavours. Liked but too pricey.

5. Rosso di Montalcino, Il Poggione, 1996
Light colour, but very full wine. A big grab when you taste. Dry. This is made with Sangiovese grosso. It spends less time on the skins than Brunello di Montalcino. Will age about five years from the vintage. Nice wine, but can't make up my mind.

6. Coltibuono Chianti Classico, Roberto Stucchi, 1996
Tea chest on the nose. Lots of fruit, alcohol, tannin grip to stop you in your tracks. Very nice but at £10?

7. Langhe Nebbiolo, Alasia, 1997
Fine red colour. Amazing nose. Toffee? Cherry, fruitcake. Will improve. From the people who bring you the wonderful Muscate Sec reviewed in January.

8. Barolo 'Vigna dei Pola' Giacomo Aschieri, 1995
Lovely nutty nose. Still very young. Concentrated, austere. Palate of tar and cherries. Keep a while. Richard says that this is a great place to visit and to dine.

9. Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Tommaso Bussola, 1996
Made by the 'repasso' method whereby the skins from the Amarone winesare added to the must during fermentation, this gives a hint of amaro to this lighter style of wine. It has a little tannin grip, and lots of fruit. Very good.

10. Rubesco Monticchio, Lungarotti, 1988
Incredible colour for its age - deep with only a hint of orange. Nose more like an Amarone, lots of fruit, good acid to balance, still some tannins. Will improve. Very nice, and good quality at the price. Maybe a bit thin, though: This wine seems to do everything right but doesn't deliver as much as it should. Single vineyard (Monticchio).

11. Rubesco Torgiano, Lungarotti, 1995
Beautiful colour. Big, tarry, earthy nose.A wee bit sharp but good fruit. Made from Sangiovese and Canaiolo ("a sweetness that tempers the harshness of the latter", according to Baron Ricasoli who refined the Chianti recipe in the 1850s).

12. Duca d'Aragona, Rosso del Salento, Candido 1991
One of my favourite wines; the big brother of Salice Salentino (and now a mid-range one has been introduced as well) from Alexander Candido in Puglia. Gorgeous deep red, wonderful nose of rich fruit. Seriously stern. I think I detected something a bit sharp and woody in this vintage, though. Got better and better in the glass. Still superb.

13. Ciro Classico Riserva "Duca San Felice", Librandi 1995
Clean, orange-red. Big, big nose, warm, spicy. Fresh berry fruit, stern; tannins, fruitcake. Made with Gaglioppo (for some reason Parker calls it Gaplioppo), this is another great wine from the hot south of Italy; this time Calabria.

14. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Tommaso Bussola, 1994
This Amarone is very (too?) intense. It is hugely concentrated, with flavours of plums, cherries, prunes, raisins on the nose and in the mouth. Despite decanting it is still too much for me; I previously tried it at home and followed instructions to open it a day in advance etc.: It came across as somewhat synthetic. For more on Amarone see 'Bittersweet'.

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