A while back, I was asked if I wanted to participate in a “unique opportunity” to taste “over 50 of Italy’s finest wines” on Zoom over the course of a few days.
I said “sure” thinking I would be swamped with several cases of wine, but I would be partaking for the sake of the greater good, naturally. When I got the notice from UPS that a singular package was on its way, weighing in at just over a kilogram, I thought they were sending along some accompanying materials (tech sheets, promotional materials, and such).
That was the wine. All of it.
This is what showed up:
In the U.S., a shot of liquor is, technically, 1.48 ounces or 44ml. Two of these bottles come out to 40ml.
Not even a full shot.
Yeah, I know.
Well, I have been making my way through the box of 60ml bottles and I am feeling rather proud of myself for sticking with these ridiculously small bottles. On a recent trip to New York, I was tempted to throw a dozen of them in a little baggie and try to convince the fine people at the TSA that they were “medicine” (which is not far from the truth), but my wife convinced me that it was a rather bad idea.
So here are another six wines, twelve bottles in total, of these stupid, tiny vials. To be honest, I would have chucked them a long time ago had the wines not proven to be so good….
2018 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura, Italy: Retail $50. Two Tiny 20ml bottles. Brunello is one of the Italian appellations that is a bit of a mystery to me. It is a bit puzzling not because I lack tasting experience in the appellation (although it could always be better), but rather it seems that the producer is vitally important. Medium to dark in color and aromas with a more subtle palate of muted fruit, a nice level of tartness, and some tannins on the medium finish. I would venture to state that this wine needs a bit of time, but still, a particularly fine iteration of Brunello. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Fattoria Il Castagno Rosa del Castagno, Toscana IGT, Italy: Retail $25. 100% Syrah. Two Tiny 20ml bottles. I do not see a ton of Syrah from Italy and this might be my first Italian rosé from 100% Syrah (I guess I could check, but that might take forever). Light to average pink in the glass with rose petal, strawberry, some minerality, and a bit of salinity. The palate is, well, delightful, with plenty of fruit a tartness that is pretty close to off the charts, and a finish that lasts well into the next sip (although with these tiny bottles, I only got two such “sips”). Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 Fattoria Il Castagno Syrah Cortona Castagnino, Toscana IGT, Italy: Retail $30. Two Tiny 20ml bottles. 100% Syrah. I guess I would say that this wine is on the dark side of Syrah in color, but certainly in aromas with stewed blackberry, plum, and anise. The palate is far less “old” than the nose would suggest with good fruit and tartness, as well as some healthy tannins on the finish. Look, I can count on one hand how many Syrahs I have tried from Italy and that includes the three that I have tasted in the last handful of hours. While this would not be mistaken for a Northern Rhône beauty, it is still quite attractive in its own right. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Gabriele Mazzeschi Syrah Il Commendatore, Toscana IGT, Italy: Retail $40. Two Tiny 20ml bottles. 100% Syrah. Yet another Italian Syrah, which before tonight, I could have counted on one hand those that I have tried, and this one is on the verge of brooding. Dark in color as well as aromas with plenty of spice initially (black pepper, clove, cardamom), followed by some dark fruit (plum, cassis), a decided vegetal/herbal note (celery, mint), and chamomile. A bit stewed on the palate, with really ripe (over-ripe?) fruit, but well short of “too much”, ample acidity, and a lengthy finish, punctuated by some chewy tannins. This is certainly not my style of wine, but it really works. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Kellerei Nals-Margreid Pinot Bianco Alto Adige – Südtirol Sirmian, Italy: Retail $35. Two Tiny 20ml bottles. I am back on my tiny bottle horse again, starting with this Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige. Oddly, this is quite smoky on the nose with hints of citrus fruit, Asian pear, green apple, and loads of hazelnut. The palate is full and round with an initial wave of fruit that quickly coats the mouth. A balancing tartness comes in on the mid-palate along with a nuttiness that was only a rumor on the nose. Throw in a bit of minerality and a lengthy finish, all of which results in a unique wine that would be hard to place if tasted blind. Excellent. 90 Points.