Also recommended: 2004 Rosso di Montepulciano (85), 2003 Vigneto Antica Chiusina Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (86), 2001 Sangallo Vin Santo di Montepulciano (85). (Vias Imports, New York, NY)
($22) Medium-deep ruby. Pleasantly soft aromas of ripe red cherry, vanilla and smoked meat. Fat and supple on entry, then more vibrant in the middle as lively acids kick in and lighten up the pretty raspberry, plum and underbrush flavors. The finish is smooth and of moderate length.
Inky ruby. Lovely sweet blueberry, mocha and milk chocolate aromas are complicated by spicy blackberry jam. Sweet and fat on the palate, exhibiting a smoky complexity to its black cherry, blackberry and espresso flavors. Finishes quite long, with very suave tannins. This is usually one of Tuscany's best merlots, and it's not outrageously expensive.
Blackish-red. Good pure dark berry fruit on the nose, with a touch of Mediterranean herbs and spices. Shows sweet black fruit on entry, with notes of leather and espresso liqueur emerging. There's a slight toughness to the tannins, which turn a bit astringent on the long finish. Still, a huge success for merlot in this vintage.