A Tuscan tasting

February 28, 1993|By Michael Dresser

These Tuscan red wines, purchased in Maryland stores for less than $20, were tasted in recent weeks. They are listed, along with the name of the importer, in rough order of preference.

Excellent

* 1990 Podere Il Poggiolo Rosso di Montalcino (Marc de Grazia selection, $15.99). A sensational wine, not huge in body but with an elegant, piercing purity of flavor. Lovely now, but three to five years of aging should bring the intense black cherry and herb flavors even more tightly into focus.

1990 Cru Montetondo Chianti Classico (Marc di Grazia Selections, $12). Superb structure, intensity and purity. There are layers of black cherry, herb and earthy flavors. While accessible now, this complex wine should improve for five years and last for a decade or more.

1988 Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico (Marc di Grazia Selections, $13). A wine of exceptional intensity and richness, with black cherry, herbs and an unusual (for a Chianti) hint of raspberry. Lovely now; lovely 10 years from now.

1990 Pertimali Rosso di Montalcino (Marc di Grazia Selections, $19.99). In time, the Pertimali could be the greatest wine in this group. This full-bodied, intensely spicy wine with a deep pool of black cherry flavor needs three to five years to hit its stride, as it really is the equivalent of many a Brunello di Montalcino.

1988 Monte Antico Red Tuscan Wine (Neil Empson, $10). Not full-bodied but structured, spicy and clear as a bell. A classy wine, ready to drink now. Great price.

1990 Toscolo Chianti Classico (Neil Empson, $13.69). Intensely fruity, with full-bodied flavors of black cherry, spice, black pepper and chocolate.

Very good

* 1990 Fattoria Le Corti Chianti Classico (Atlantic Wine & Spirits, $12). A lush, cherry and earth-flavored wine with fine length and an attractive price.

1988 Montetondo Chianti Classico Riserva (Marc di Grazia, $18). Lean and complex, with a light earthiness and silky, mature feel. Lacks the grip or value of the regular 1990 bottling, but the 1988's a fine wine.

1988 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico (Schiffelin & Somerset, $16.29). Musty aromas blow off quickly to reveal a gutsy, earthy, robust wine that will likely age better than most Chiantis.

* 1988 Villa Antinori Chianti Classico (Remy Amerique, $13). A fine, middle-of-the-road Chianti with winning black cherry flavor, good intensity and a lot of class for such a widely available wine.

1990 Poggerino Chianti Classico (Marc di Grazia, $14). A good, medium-bodied Chianti with pleasant herbal notes.

Good

* 1990 Fossi Chianti (Franklin Selections, $8). A solid, medium-bodied Chianti that delivers good value though not great complexity.

1990 Colognole Chianti Rufina (Marc di Grazia, $10). Time might loosen up this rather ungenerous wine, which has all the components but hasn't quite put them together.

Average

* 1991 Fattoria di Lucignano Chianti Colli Fiorentini (Marc di Grazia, $9). A light-styled, early-maturing, somewhat dilute wine that falls short of previous Lucignano wines. A vintage problem.

1991 Capezzana Chianti Montalbano (International Vintage Wine, $9). A pleasant lightweight, but hollow at the center.

1988 Broluio Chianti Classico (Brown Forman, $10). Mass-produced and tastes that way. Blunt and likely heavily filtered.

* 1988 DEI Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Marc di Grazia, $19.99). What's wrong here? The fruit seems trapped behind a wall of tannin, leaving a hollow, thin impression. Maybe time will provide a cure, but it's a long-shot.

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