Wine Spirits

December 2011

Year’s Best

Rocche dei Manzoni 2005 Barolo Vigna Cappella di S. Stefano –
94 points

From the Santo Stefano di Perno  cru, where nebbiolo ripens on a hillside fanning out from south-south to southwest, this is a concentrated and powerful 2005. Its initial barrel scents completely give way to luscious red fruit and supple, meaty tannins. A blast of nebbiolo power slowly dissipates through a long finish, with savory hints of porcini and roses. A hearty wine with a formidable structure, this is suited to long development in the cellar.

Rocche dei Manzoni 2005 Barolo Vigna d’Roul – 93 points

This vineyard surrounds the winery’s offices in Manzoni Soprani, where the southern exposures of the hill built the wine’s massive attack. It’s super tannic, meaty rather than sweet, yet the tannins feel rich, as if marbled with fat. The tannins relent a bit with a day of air, allowing the wine to unfold even as they continue to cover it. Somehow, this manages to feel statuesque rather than over extracted. Don’t consider opening it without another five years of bottle age; it will develop for years after that.

Rocche dei Manzoni 2001 Piemonte Metodo Classico Valentino Brut Zero Riserva – 93 points

Though it’s made from chardonnay and aged in bottle on the lees for five years, this is not pretending to be Champagne. It’s remarkably bright for a ten-year-old wine, with scents of honey-suckle, fresh almonds and firm, golden apple fruit. Tightly structured, this would be delicious with a rabbit terrine.

Rocchedei Manzoni, Pianpolvere Soprano 2004 Barolo Riserva Bussia – 92 points

Valentino Migliorini of Rocche dei Manzoni purchased this 22.2 acre vineyard in 1998 from the Fenocchio family, who had planted two-thirds of it to nebbiolo and built its reputation as one of the top crus of Barolo. It’s a south-southwest facing slope rising to 1,300 feet, the vines in the calcareous marl and sandy soils farmed under biodynamics since 2011. This 2004 is hard to access at the moment, so hugely tannic that it coats the mouth in blackness. The minerality of the wine is apparent in those tannins, as is the youthful tension. Remember to buy it, but forget to drink it for at least ten years.

Rocche dei Manzoni  2004 Langhe Quatr Nas – 92 points

Twenty years after the first release of Bricco Manzoni, Valentino Migliorini created this blend of nebbiolo, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir in 1996. This 2004 is tighter and tenser than the Bricco Manzoni (also recommended here, but from the 2005 vintage). It’s an intriguing blend, the tannins still youthfully aggressive, the nebbiolo and cabernet character still battling for dominance. It finishes dry, a black and austere wine for a truffle risotto with roast lamb.

Rocche dei Manzoni  2005 Langhe Bricco Manzoni  – 91 points

Valentino Migliorini, an Emilia-Romagna restaurateur turned Piedmontese winemaker, developed this nebbiolo-barbera blend as a way to manage the challenging Barolo vintage of 1976. Aged in French barriques, it set a new textural direction for Piedmont wines. The tannins in this release have the rich smoothness of barrique aging, their fineness layered with fat, spicy fruit. Enhanced by herb and pencil lead scents, this would be a complex partner to squab roasted with wild mushroom stuffing.

Ada Nada 2007 Barbaresco Valeirano – 91 points and Best Buy

The dark scents of truffle-rich earth leads into this young Barbaresco, refined yet staunchly tannic. Coming off vines about half a century old, the wine has a fruit sweetness that balances the tannins, a chocolate-raspberry truffle flavor kept savory by herbal and rosy scents. This wine finishes with nebbiolo’s inherent delicacy.

Ada Nada 2006 Barbaresco Elisa – 90 points and Best Buy

From a vineyard planted in 1947, this wine’s red fruit and tarry tannins develop increasing tension as it takes on air. The texture moves from soft and cushioned to a firmer integration, with enough crispness to match boar ragù.

Ada Nada 2006 Barbaresco Cichin – 90 points and Best Buy

An earthy expression of Barbaresco, this wine reads either as truffles or manure, depending on whom you ask. For my taste, the earthiness adds complexity or, as another taster described it, a flavor “like balsamic vinegar poured over cherries.” The fruit is layered, darkly floral and intense, with its mineral tannins and gaminess in balance. For pasta with braised duck.

Fattoria San Giuliano 2007 Barbaresco – Best Buy

Sweet red fruit, peppery alcohol and an herbal character combine in this Piedmontese red, as meaty as the salami it would accompany. Decant it for salami al finocchio.

Ca’ dei Mandorli 2009 Gavi Pian dei Ronchi – Best Buy

Soft and grapey, this is a clean Gavi with juiciness right in the middle. Chill it for aperitifs.

Hilberg-Pasquero 2007 Barbera d’Alba Superiore – 92 points

Firm and smoky up front, this brightens with air, balancing the char of the tannins with voluptuous cherry-red fruit. It gains spiciness and opens up into a long line-drive of a finish. Plump and lovely, it will match the sweet savor of brisket.

Hilberg-Pasquero 2009 Barbera d’Alba Per Alessandra – Best Buy

This darkens through flavors of smoky black cherry and tar before brightening to rose notes. The fruit is sweet but the wine is not, lasting on an earthy savor. For spicy pulled pork.

Hilberg-Pasquero 2009 Barbera d’Alba – Best Buy

A bright, spicy red with a peppery finish, this is high-toned and acidic. Pour it with a meaty, red-sauced pizza.

Giuseppe Stella 2010 Freisa d’Asti Convento – Year’s Best

Light, bright and peppery, this is a rustic and grapey red. It finishes clean, ready to cut through the fat of soppressata.

 

August 2011

Year’s Best Northeast Italy

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino
92 points

This organically farmed estate grows just over an acre of schioppettino on a south-southwest-facing hillside. It produces a tense wine, buoyant with purple fruit and scents of anise, sage and bay. That herbal spice leads the fruit into a wall of tannin as the wine turns toward the umami blackness of mushrooms and minerals. Decant it for braised wild duck, or store it away to let the intensity mellow.

June 2011

Year’s Best Southern Italians

The blind panels taster 168 new-release Southern Italian wines over the past 12 months.

Joshua Greene rated 24 as exceptional (90+) and 14 Best Buys

De Conciliis Selim (Best Buy)
90 points

Named for jazz trumpet player Miles Davis, Selim blends fiano, aglianico and barbera into a cool and gentle sparkler. The fizz carries scents of apples and flowers, the flavors delivered pleasantly dry without being austere. Sweet, fragrant fruit comes up in the end to make this a clean aperitif.

Mille Una ‘Shahryar’ Negroamaro
90 points

Plush and luxuriously full bodied, this wine would appeal to malbec drinkers looking to branch out. Its blackberry flavors have accents of tobacco and cassis, tannis adding richness and smoky earth tones to the finish. Delicious with braised lamb.

Buceci Nero d’Avola-Merlot
90 points

Bright blueberry and rasberry jam flavors rain down on this wine’s mineral tannin. It’s fresh and juicy, the darkness of nero d’Avola sweetened by merlot. Delicious with a steak.

April 2011

Year’s Best: Austria

Peter Schandl Brut Gelb Muskateller (2009)
91 points

This wine’s musky notes of grapefruit and bitter orange are floral and fragrant, demonstrating uncommon finesse and length. It’s all underlined by
prominent stoniness, adding to the feeling of complexity and vitality.

Helmut Gangl Neusiedlersee Scheurebe Trockenbeerenaulese (2006) – Best Buy
91 points

This is forward and plush, with luscious, thickl;y textured flavors of peach and apricot. It’s intensely spicy, with botrytis making it feel almost savory in tone, and it pulls all of its components together harmoniously on the velvety finish.

Helmut Gangl Neusiedlersee Zweigelt Trockenbeerenaulese (2006) – Best Buy
90 points

Coppery in color, this is spicy and dense on the palate, with rich flavors of red cherry, tangerine peel, anise and honey. It’s intense in aroma and drier
than the concentrated nose might lead you to expect; while a TBA made from red grapes might seem bizarre, this works in a fascinating way.

Fuchs Sauvignon Blanc (2009) – Best Buy
88 points

A ripe style of Sauvignon, this is fragrant and richly textured, with flavors of papaya, fresh apple and Meyer lemon. It’s balanced, feeling zesty under
the succulent fruit.

Fisher Classic Pinot Noir (2008) – Best Buy
88 points

The plummy flavors are dark and gamey in tone, with firm tannis buttressing the finish. Serve this with roast pork or other fatty meats to bring the fruit
into the foreground.

Year’s Best: Tuscan Reds

Il Conventino Vino Nobile di Montalcino Riserva (2004)
93 points

Balancing intensity with finesse, this riserva has potent cherry and purple plum flavors along with equally deep scents of fresh porcini. It’s supple and rich, with tension that drives the flavors forward through a long and zesty finish. While the wine feels modern in style, it holds to a Tuscan profile, a character that should develop in the cellar over the next five years.

Tenuta Il Faggeto Vino Nobile di Montalcino Pietra del Diavolo (2007) – Best Buy
92 points

As this wine takes on air, it grows more refined, the tannins developing a warm earthiness like sun on soil. It smells and tastes like sangiovese – hinting
at woodland mushrooms, its dark fruit edged by acidity – yet it has suppleness of the vintage. Clean, tight and firm, this should develop well over the
next several years.

La Fornace Brunello di Montalcino (2005)
91 points

Tightly wrapped around smoky, mineral tension, this wine needs time in a decanter to reveal its firm, musky, woodland mushroom flavors. Power grips
it as a young wine. This should be open more fully with cellar time, or in the presence of a seared steak.

Sardi Giustiniani Quinis Rosso (2008) – Best Buy
88 points

A blend of merlot and sangiovese fermented in cement and aged in oak, this has an old-fashioned charm. Its high-toned scents of chestnuts and cherries least through the warmth of the alcohol. A juicy red for flank steak.

Imported New Releases

Cecilia Elba Ansonica (2009) – Best Buy
90 points

This island white had bold, juicy flavors of nectarine, its sweetness balanced by a pleasantly bitter edge of tannin. It’s a quirky wine with a bright,
honeyed appeal, ready to pour with grilled seppie.

April 2010

Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino
94 points

A young Brunello that’s turned in on itself, this yields little more than the black mineral earthiness of sangiovese tannins. Air brings up scents of porcini, sour cherry, iron and thyme. For all the power of its profound structure, the wine is still mouthwatering. A candidate for long-term aging, this will likely be at its best ten to 12 years from the vintage.

La Sala Chianti Classico Riserva
93 points

Once owned by the Medici family and now in the hands of Laura Baronti, La Sala is located in San Casciano, just southwest of Firenze. Made from 100 percent sangiovese aged in French and American oak, the 2004 Riserva is an ambitious, modern style of Chianti Classico. The fruit is in the darker spectrum of sangiovese, showing fresh black cherry and plum, with blue highlights deeepening toward the black tannins. It’s spicy and complete, ultimately enjoyable and easy rather than challenging. A wine to decant for bistecca alla Fiorentina.

La Fornace Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
92 points

Fully evolved, this is an elegant, older Brunello with complex scents of herbs and mushrooms. It revives with air, building on black fruit and satin-textured tannins, a tight, mouthwatering sangiovese to match braised boar.

Peter Schandl Ruster Ausbruch
92 points

This wine’s creamy, plush flavors of papaya, pineapple, and mango are honeyed and rich, feeling velvety and opulent in their concentration. That ripeness obscures a great deal of acidity, likely ensuring this will enjoy a very long life.

Sighardt Donabaum Neuburger Auleithen
92 points

This shows an uncommon depht and sophistication for the veriety, its fragant notes of grapefruit and almond unfolding on the palate with nuance and
grace. It’s balanced by firm acidity that focuses the flavors and lengthens the lively finish.

Il Conventino Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (BEST BUY)
90 points

This organically farmed vineyard produces a classically styled, dark and mineral-driven sangiovese. Decant it to let the aromas develop and you’ll find
a supple, chestnut-scented Tuscan red. This would benefit from a year or two in the cellar or a bistecca alla Fiorentina.

La Fornace Brunello di Montalcino
90 points

What this graceful and elegant Brunello lacks in muscle and nerve it makes up for in delicate flavors of honey, truffle, dark herb and ripe tomato.
It’s fresh and clean. For pappardelle with braised rabbit.

Peter Schandl Furmint (BEST BUY)
90 points

This wine’s richly textured flavors of apricot and poached pear are detailed and precise, with a pleasing, herbal note adding complexity.

Sighardt Donabaum Riesling 1000Eimerberg (BEST BUY)
90 points

This contrasts sweet apricot and red apple flavors with savory notes of fennel and brown spice, firm and well defined. It’s unusually full bodied for
a wine from this steep, windswept vineyard, calling for meat or rich fish dishes rather than lighter fare.

December 2009

Year’s Best

Ada Nada Barbaresco Elisa
91 points

Sourced from a small vineyard that rises to 1,150 feet in a subzone of Treiso, this ’04 combines scents of rose and tobacco with fresh cherry. The relatively high altitude of the site is apparent in the wine’s bracing acidity, which keeps the flavors lively and focused. This will improve with a few yearse in the cellar.

Hilberg-Pasquero Barbera d’Alba
91 points

A cool mint character lifts this wine’s ripe blueberry and strwberry flavors. The texture feels full and rich yet there’s plenty of acidity to give it drive.
Decant a bottle for sausages fresh from the grill, served with polenta.

La Querciola Donna Bianca Barolo
91 points

This binds ripe flavors to a savory frame. With air, it shows aromas of fresh peppecorns, dried rose and eaerthy tannins. The structure feels lean yet powerful, displaying a potency that’s compelling. Cellar this for five or more years before decanting with lamb.

La Querciola Carpeneta Dolcetto di Dogliani
90 points

Reduced at first, this takes time to reveal ripe, dense cherry fruit brightened by acidity. The flavors are cool and sweet, the finish marked by a subtle, complex herbal dimension.

La Querciola Barilin Langhe Rosso
90 points

This wraps ripe cherry and rose flavors in sweet coffe-scented tannic extraact. It grows bright with air, with subtle notes of damp earth and black tea that last through the finish. It’s a substantial wine to serve with braised short ribs.

Best Buy

Ca’ dei Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui Donne dei Boschi
88 points

This feels savory in the way it combines strawberry and watermelon flavors with a dry spice note. Try it with a pear tart.

June 2009

Wolfgang M. Weber’s Critics Picks

Hilberg-Pasquero Vareij 2006

De Conciliis Selim

Imported New Releases

De Conciliis Donnaluna Fiano
92 points

An engaging fiano from Cilento on Campania’s southern coast, this balances ripe apple and lime flavors with smoky minerality. It grows inviting and long with air, the generous texture checked by refreshing acidity. A substantial white to match the richness of grilled orata.

De Conciliis Selim
90 points

The addition of 35 percent aglianico lends firmness to the refreshing green apple and peach character of the fiano in the blend. it’s not complex, but the flavors are long, lasting and irresistible. Try it with fresh spring fava beans.

100 Top Values of the Year

Antico Broilo Ribolla Gialla 2006
90 points

Yellow apple richness is checked by chalcky tannin in this full-bodied wine. The flavors deepen with air, while the finish is steely and long. It would be lovely with grilled weisswurst.

Ronco del Gnemiz Bianco di Jacopo 2006
90 points

Zesty and bright, with fresh aromas of lemon, this blend of chardonnay (80 percent) with tocai friulano is full and rich without feeling heavy. Match its smooth texture with grilled salmon.

April 2008

Katharina & Helmut Gangl Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese 2006
92 points

High must-weight intensifies the floral, perfumed aromas of this variety, complementing the fragant and musky flavors of peach, jackfruit and papaya. It feels concentrated and harmonious, balancing the weight well.

La Sala Chianti 2003
91 points

A remarkably fresh 2003, this wine’s hyperripe cherry scents show a more restrained ripeness on the palate. It’s packed with generous black cherry flavor, while the tannins, chalky and substantial, meld in harmony with the fruit. The lenght of flavor and the blance of the wine argue for cellaring, though it’s a pleasure to drink now with rack of lamb.

Sighardt Donabaum Neuburger Auleithen 2006
90 points

This is bold in flavor and rich in body for a neuburger, its aromas of green mango, tangerine and melon feeling substantial. It’s expansive on the palate and impeccably balanced, lingering in fragrant lengt.

Sighardt Donabaum Gelber Muskateller 2006
90 points

Floral and musky, this is held firmly in place by taut acidity and prominent minerality. It feels balanced and poised as the bold orange peel and white
flower aromas expand in perfumed fragance.

December 2007

Scarzello Barolo 2001
91 points

The heady oak scents that introduce this Barolo are joined by dried cherry flavors and a powerful minerality with air. With chewy tannins that accentuate the deep power of its mineral character, this is an impressive Barolo that needs a decade in the cellar.

Hilberg- Pasquero Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2004
90 points

An aromatic barbera with scents sweet cherries, game and tar, this needs time in a decanter to unwind. When it does, the fruit feels silky and gaminess lends a savory, mouthwatering complexity. An ambitious wine for braised oxtail.

Fattoria San Giuliano Barbera d’Alba Fiore di Marcorino 2005
90 points

An inviting floral aroma gradually emerges from behind the oak scents in this modern barbera. It’s a big wine with bold, ripe fruit buttressed by pleasant acidity. Cellar it for a few more years, or pour it with a fatty rib-eye.

21st Annual Buying Guide

Collemattoni Winery

Top 100 Wineries of the Year

Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino 2001

Top 100 Wines of the Year

In 1982, Aldo Bucci inherited his uncle’s 12-acre Collemattoni estate in Sant’Angelo in Colle, just south of Montalcino. The Bucci family has owned this prime spot for sangiovese since the 1940s, though like many small growers in the area, they originally sold their grapes t olarger Brunello producers. Aldo Bucci continued this practice, keeping aside a small amount of grapes to make wine at hime. His production gradually increased and like many small Brunello estates, Bucci made plans to release a wine under his own label. His first vintage of Collemattoni was 1988; his son Marcello has been the winemaker since 1995.

In addittion, to expanding the estate in recent years, Marcello Bucci has introduced organic farming practices at Collemattoni. He’s also something of a traditionalist, employing long maceration times and large Slavonian oak casks in the cellar. Our top wine this year, the ’01 Brunello, was compelling in its freshness, its flavors accessible and generous. The wine has a coolness to it that calls to mind a dense woodland; as it takes on air, those savory aromas become floral, leading to delicate flavors of wild berries and freshly turned earth. Serene in its outlook and incredibly balanced, this ’01 has a very long life ahead of it.

Bucci’s more ambitious wine, the ’99 Riserva, comes from 25-to 35-year-old vines planted at Fontelontano, a small vineyard at the estate. Bucci ages part of the wine in barrique prior to settling down into the larger casks. While clearly impressive, the wine is austere and closed for now, almost a reflection of the barren autumn landscapes in southern Tuscany. Patient cellaring will allow the fierce tannins to recede and the sweet cherry fruit to come to the fore. In the meantime, check out the ’04 Rosso di Montalcino. Bright and fresh, with soft chewy tannins, it’s an ideal wine for Tuscany-style braised rabbit.

Masut da Rive Tocai Friulano 2005
91 points

Top 100 Best Buys of the Year

Soft and silken, this gentle, honeyed tocai is a slight-bodied slip of a wine, classically Mediterranean in its structure and hints of citrus. A delicate white for calamari sautéed in garlic and olice oil.

De Conciliis Donnaluna Fiano 2005
92 points

Top 100 Best Buys of the Year

A huge white, this needs hours in a decanter to reveal its detailed flavors. Under the noeyed thickness of fiano, there’s an entire topographical map of Paestum, from a saline minerality that recalls the nearby Amalfi coast to a dark, smoky earthiness that brings to mind the hot, stony, ruins-ridden interior.

October 2007

La Sala Chianti Classico Riserva 2003
91 points

A remarkably fresh 2003, this wine’s hyper-ripe cherry scents show a more restrained ripeness on the palate. It’s packed with generous black cherry flavor, while tannins, chalky and substantial, meld in harmony with the fruit. The lenght of flavor and the balance of the wine argue for cellaring, though it’s pleasure to drink now with rack of lamb.

August 2007

Antico Broilo Refosco Riserva 2003
92 points

Black-purple in color with a bright edge, this wine is heady and exotic in its super ripeness. The blackberry core yields ornate scents of game and fresh almonds, remarkably firm and structured for its fruit maturity. A potent, dark beauty from Friuli; for roast suckling pig.

Masut da Rive Tocai Friulano 2005
91 points

Soft and silken, this gentle, honeyed tocai is a slight-bodied slip of a wine, classically Mediterranean in its structure and hints of citrus. A delicate white for calamari sautéed in garlic and olice oil.

Cima da Conegliano Prosecco Extra Dry
91 points

Though “extra dry” implies sweetness, here it translates as textural elegance, a lovely refinement that contrasts brisk mineral scents with sweeter fruit tones of fresh walnut and raw almond. For clams on the half shell, or fritto misto.

Ronco del Gnemiz Tocai Friulano 2004
90 points

A rich Tocai, this balances juicy peach flavors with smoky leesiness. The texture is firm and generous, a heady white to serve with the dark meat of chicken braised in white wine.

June 2007

Abraxas Passito di Pantelleria 2003
93 points

Pantelleria is an island southwest of Sicily, closer, really, to North Africa than Italy. The Sahara sends north winds of such ferocity that the island’s bush-vine vineyards- like the zibibbo used to make this wine- are dug into individual hollows in the volcanic soils for protection. You might not think that such an extreme environment could yield a wine with the delicacy and poise of this Abraxas, but it does. The taste carries the warmth of the sun in the wine’s sweet apricot flavor; then, suddenly, it becomes light, with a refreshing vibrancy that recalls the whip of the wind and the azure coolness of the Mediterranean. The flavors may haunt you long after the bottle is gone.

April 2007

Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino 2001
94 points

From an estate in Sant’ Angelo in Colle, just south of Montalcino, this offers compelling freshness in both its fruit and tannin, its riches immediately accessible in generous flavors of black cherry, the cool scent of a mountain forest floor, the tar and black peppercorn spice of the tannin. More impressive is how it transforms with air, filling a vast expanse of flavor with detail. The fruit takes on a delicate rose perfume, the tannins yield the scent of freshly turned earth. This has a long cellar life ahead, enjoyable along the way with roast lamb.

Sighardt Donabaum Wachau 1000 Eimerberg Riesling Smaragd 2004
92 points

This has a dense core of spicy apricot and lemon fruit, along with the steely acidity typical of both the vintage and the site. Its herbal, peppery edge contrasts with  the lemony briskness and the stony perfume, feeling clean and fresh.

Gangl Neusiedlersee Trockenbeerenauslese Scheurebe 2002
91 points

It’s at the TBA level that scheurebe really excels, and in this wine the spicy, musky intensity of the grape is tempered by lusciously concentrated flavors of peach, Papaya and orange marmalade. It finishes with firm acidity and a cinnamonlike fragrance, feeling bright despite its great weight.

Lang Burgenland Auslese Pinot Noir 1995
91 points

The idea of a sweet Auslese made of pinot noir might sound weird, but this is absolutely delicious, its bright aromas of strawberry and red cherry feeling fresh and energetic. The red fruit flavor is bold without a lot of weight and the texture is supple and creamy. It’s not sweet enough for most desserts – especially with its racy acidity- and would probably be better paired with a dry, crumbly cheese such as Caerphilly or a farmhouse cheddar.

Spätrot Gebeshuber Thermenregion Zierfandler-Rotgipfler 2003
90 points

This shows remarkable energy for the vintage, with sleek, lively acidity that supports the ripe white peach, melon and mandarin orange flavors. The finish is long and stony feeling racy and  fresh.

Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigna Fontelontano 1999
90 points

This ’99, from 25-to 35-year-old vines in Sant’ Angelo in Colle, is walled off behind its brunello austerity, its structure almost painfully tannic, its beautiful flavors long yet shifting from one moment to the next. There’s a sweetness to the aroma and flavor, like red licorice and prunes; there’s also a hint of floral jasmine and a lot of spice. This should reward patient cellaring.

Ceralti Bolgheri Vermentino 2005
90 points

This vermentino is earthy rather than acidic, its clean flavor focused on pear skin and floral lime. A smoky, saline edge lends enough potency to serve it with crab.

Il Puntone Morellino di Scansano Vigneto Il Puntone 2005
90 points

Clean cherry flavors evolve out of the blackness of this wine, a simple country red with plenty of rustic charm. Spicy scents of cracked black peppercorn and rawhide add to its bold attack. For a Tuscan steak at Maremma in Manhattan’s West Village.

Gangl Neusiedlersee Trockenbeerenauslese Zweigelt 2004
89 points

Although this is made from red grape, it’s clear in color. There’s a lot of honeyed peach, apricot and strawberry fruit, along with a hint of black pepper and a thick layer of botrytis, the flavor turning to sweet Chinese red bean on the long finish. It’s voluptuous and velvety, strangely and deliciously appealing.

Spätrot Gebeshuber Thermenregion Riesling 2004
89 points

Lemonlime flavors are cool and zesty, backed by a stony minerality that intensifies the feeling of raciness. Serve this with pike in butter.

Fischer Thermenregion Premium Pinot Noir 2003
89 points

Fragrant, sophisticated red cherry and black plum flavor balance the toasty oak. Pair it with a pan-seared duck breast.

Peter Schandl Burgenland Pinot Blanc 2004
89 points

Clean, crisp flavors of lemon, grapefruit pith and blanched are fresh and fragrant, supported by a waxy texture. It would be good match for crab.

Fischer Thermenregion Classic St. Laurent 2003
89 points

Savory notes of game and spice give this dark, chocolatey wine a feral quality. It’s smoky and black, a good match for grilled meats.

Gangl Neusiedlersee Beerenauslese Bouvier 2003
88 points

The rare bouvier grape is best known for producing noble sweet wines such as this one. The dense, viscous aromas of black and golden raisins, spiced plums and clove caused one taster to remark that it’s “like white Pedro Ximenez.” It’s probably as polarizing a style as its Jerez counterpart as well: You’ll either love its velvety richness or find it to thick.

Spätrot Gebeshuber Thermenregion Privat St. Laurent 2003
88 points

This is extremely ripe, its dense, spicy dark chocolate and dried Chinese plum flavors held together by plush tannins. Pair it with braised meats.

Sighardt Donabaum Wachau Biern Gelber Muskateller 2004
88 points

Orange marmalade and tropical fruit flavors are plush and full, with a musky, patchoulilike undertone. Not your typical aperitif Muscat, try it with pork or rabbit instead.

Fattoria Sovestro Toscana Cortegiano 2002
88 points

Clean scents of red plums and berries fill this simple, quiet wine, a well-made 2002. Ready to drink with red-sauced pasta.

Tenuta di Trecciano Toscana Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
88 points

This cabernet has a youthful greenness, its supple texture melding the tannins into the fruit. The harmony of the structure would indicate that the greenness may dissipate with a few years of age.

December 2005

Ada Nada Barbaresco Cichin 2001
93 points

Harmonious from the moment it’s first poured, the estate-grown wine has an elegant surface and tannic strength underneath that feels firm rather than strict. The delicate red fruit has the fragrance of Piedmont earth, so you can breathe in the scent of rose petals and truffles. Brisk and young with a lovely freshness, this is accessible now and balanced to age past 2010.

Ada Nada Barbaresco Valeirano 1999
91 points

A massive, powerful ’99, the middle of this wine is bulked up on black, mineral tannin. Then it lenthens out in the finish, the grit of the earthy tannin giving way to rose, truffle and a red fruit not far from persimmon. Given time, that red fruit should develop, to drink from 2008-12.

Paolo Conterno Barolo Ginestra Riserva 1998
90 points

This Vintage has backed into a dumb phase, shut down behind its oak so the flavors are mostly vanillaand smoke. Underneath, the wine is extremely concentrated, the tannins earthy as autumn leaves, the fruit black and closed. For the cellar; drink 2008-’12.

Fattoria San Giuliano Barbaresco 2001
88 points

A scrappy little shortstop of a wine, this has a lot of extract on a small frame. There’s delicacy to the rose aroma, then more punch to the bitter tannin and resinous fruit. Give it time to evolve: Drink from 2008-’10.

Hilberg-Pasquero Barbera d’Alba 2003
88 points

This heady barbera cloaks its warmth in plump fruit. It finishes soft, on dark fruit and chocolate tones, ready for long-cooked beef.

Paolo Conterno Barolo Ginestra 2000
88 points

Clean with sweet red fruit, this is a simple nebbiolo, gentle and easy to drink now. A steakhouse red.

Paolo Conterno Langhe Bric Ginestra 2000
87 points

Ripe and jammy, with soft, cocoa-scented tannins, this wine is ready for rare filet mignon.

Cascina Ebreo Segreto 2000
87 points

Nebbiolo (15 percent) adds some black-cherry skin tannin to this ripe barbera from a winery near Barolo. It’s full of cherry and violet aromatics, a meaty blend of braised beef.

Scarzello Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2001
86 points

Oak sweetens the cherry flavors of this wine with clove and vanilla, a lean barbera for pot roast.

April 2005

Hutter Selektion LM Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2003
92 points

An amazingly graceful veltliner for the warm vintage, this is beautiful wine.   It’s textbook gruner veltliner in its fragrant white flower, fresh green pea, and white pepper scents and flavors.   Yet it’s so light it feels airy, even while the flavors carry on and on.   Try it with steamed fish dressed with ginger, scallion and garlic fried in sesame oil – or simply sip this on its own.

Peter Schandl Ruster Ausbruch 2002
93 points

The Schandls consider themselves traditionalists, focusing most of their attention on Burgenland’s burgunder grapes, the pinots blanc, gris and noir.   And this 100-percent pinot blanc takes tradition further, into the Ausbruch style, in which the grapes are completely shriveled from botrytis.   The result is a wine of pinto blanc’s lush, satiny texture made stunning with notes of bergamot and honey along with fresh apples and lemon zest.   It’s amazingly fresh for having been made from nobly rotted grapes, and impressively refined for its youth.   Taste it now for the freshness, or wait 15 years or so for it to become more complex.

December 2003

Nicolis Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – 92 points

Dark scents of herbs, anise and black mushroom layer in this complex wine. the tannins melt under the full weight of the fruit, leaving a soft chocolate impression to absorb the warmth of the alcohol. Young and heady, this will only grow more complex with age.