Tesoro della Regina Chianti Classico Riserva 2014

Little reflects the Byzantine complexity of Italian wine wonder better than Chianti. Maps of regions, DOCs, DOCGs, variations between towns, arguments over cultivation methods – it’s wonderful and chaotic.

And if that’s not a description of Italy worth keeping, I don’t know what is.

The bottle promises “…(a) balance between spicy and smooth with this harmonious estate-bottled…” beauty. That’s about right. My own notes mention sweet leather, earth, spice and dark fruit, but the overall impression is of drinkability.

Not to say there aren’t the characteristics folks like in a Riserva; fruit, devilish acids and the powdery tannins that go well with red food. Almost missing in this drive for fluidity is that ever-so-rough agricultural note reminding us of the humble path to making a wine from this region. Almost.

$16.99

Vecchia Cantina Rosso di Montepulciano 2014

DOC compliant, here we are cosying up to sangiovese again. And why not? Savory rather than fruit-driven, herbaceous, dry (obvs), and yet full of hints of roses and dried fruit potpourri, the reasons to pursue this grape are manifold.

Here’s the essential beauty and impenetrability of wine; it’s exotic (in the original sense of the word) and transports the elements of the place of origin to the consumer, who might be many miles away.

Romanticism is valuable to wine. Wine is a product of the long past of romantic language countries; the surprise is just how much power the yearning for such places still exists. For new world consumers, the idea – the idea -of Italian wine automatically creates a positive disposition. Either that or the idea of Italian wine engenders utter fear. Oh well.

For those of us who are sufficiently adventurous to spend fewer than fifteen dollars on a bottle of wine, the experience is often better than we hope. As with this bottle. Savory, layered, surprisingly tannic and in the best sense of the word, she’s a kind of winegate to Italy.

Be prepared for a multi-component nose, seamless transition to the palate and those terrific tannins.

$12.49

Leone D’Oro Vino Nobile Montepulciano 2011

Where were you in the (northern) summer of 2011?

Can you remember? Wine is a time capsule if you’re prepared to stretch the idea. Here’s a bottled message from – in this case – six years ago, a message encapsulating an agricultural moment in time.

Sangiovese is the bedrock of Italian reds, a position bolstered by the name of this wine, Vino Nobile. The name isn’t hyperbolic from either an historic or a wine-drinker’s point of view. From the off, I found a powerful dark fruit nose, hot fruit stew, new leather, dry rose petals  and mild licorice. Oh, and some vanilla.

Perhaps the way to think about this astonishing breadth of aromas is as vino bandwidth. You know, the volume of useful data available to the terminal (us) via the conduit (the glass) from the server (the bottle) thanks to the content provider (the winemaker).

Whatever. With air came a rounding of the tannins and a more savory herb character, including something I think was oregano.

$19.99