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The wines of Marchesi de'Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy
Via S Spirito 11, 50125 Firenze, Italy

This large Tuscan firm owns some 800 ha of vineyards, but despite its large size I was deeply impressed by this line up of wines, which was universally of a very high standard. And I was taken by surprise a bit: I wasn't expecting these wines to be this good! They range from the more-traditional-styled Nippozano and Montesodi, to the more modern Luce, Lucente and Lamaione. Something for everyone.

Nippozano Riserva DOCG Chinati Rufina 1997
Lovely stuff: ripe and complex. Sweet herby nose is open and exotic. Herby, leathery, Cherry-laced palate with sweet fruit, and great balance and concentration. Very good/excellent (Postscript: I bought a couple of these from Oddbins, and when tasted at home I rated them just as very good+; they were a bit closed. Having said this, the Oddbins store in question does get very warm in the summer, so these might have been heat affected. Bottle variation or palate variation? It's a complex business.)

Montesodi DOCG Chianti Rufina 1997
Lovely dusty, spicy herby nose. Dry tannins and dusty complexity on the palate; ripe and lovely. Very good/excellent

Momoreto IGT Toscana Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
A single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep red/black colour with a lovely spicy blackcurrant nose. Rich powerful palate with ripe black fruit: spicy and rich. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent

Castelgiocondo DOCG Brunello di Montalcino 1995
A Sangiovese from a single estate, this is a real stunner. Lovely nose of smoke and tarry fruit. Quite special. Ripe, spicy and tannic on the palate, with warm, rich flavours. Excellent (Oddbins stock this at 18.99)

Lucente 1997
80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, from the Castelgiocondo estate. A second wine to Luce. A concentrated red/purple colour this is a youthful wine, with notes of cherries, herbs and tar dominating the nose. Firm and tannic on the palate, this needs some time. Very good+

Luce 1997
A much-hyped venture with Mondavi, this is mostly Sangiovese from the Castelgiocondo estate. Deep red/purple in colour, with a lovely open nose of herby, sweet fruit and smoke. The palate displays complex ripe fruit and firm tannins; it's a very impressive wine with great potential, and perhaps worth a bit of hype. Excellent.

Lamaione IGT Toscana Merlot 1997
Concentrated red/black in colour, this has a knockout exotic nose of sweet ripe fruit and menthol. On the palate the sweet, dense fruit is backed up by considerable tannin. Bold, sweet, exotic and complex; very modern-styled. Excellent (Oddbins have this at about 17)

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