Though Fontodi is located in the heart of Panzano, a spectacular site for sangiovese, owner Giovanni Manetti feels that 2005 was a generally difficult year in which the rains harmed the grapes more than other producers are willing to let on. Proof of this is that he will not be making any of his Chianti Riserva Il Sorbo or his Case Via Syrah in this vintage and only a very small quantity of his famous Flaccianello Super-Tuscan. "The weather was such that I reduced production by more than 20% overall," he reported. This estate is another that produces an extremely high quality extra virgin olive oil, vastly superior to the ones made at other wine estates that view olive oil only as a cutesy complement to the wine portfolio.

2005 Fontodi Chianti Classico

($30) Bright ruby. Sexy, clean aromas of floral red berries and red cherry. Conveys an almost saline sense of extract on the soft, lush, sweet palate, with plenty of acidity keeping it lively and interesting. Only moderately intense in the mid-palate, but this is ready to drink and very attractive.

2004 Fontodi Chianti Classico

($30) Ruby-red. Lovely depth of ripe red fruit aromas joined by a delicate smoky note. Sweet plum and red cherry flavors are lush and broad, but with firm acids giving the wine a light touch. An impeccably balanced Chianti, a step up in intensity over the '05. Moderately long and rather soft finish.


2003 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo

($65; sangiovese with 10% cabernet sauvignon) Deep ruby. The nose begins with rather austere animal and herbal aromas, then explodes with complex, rich black cherry and ripe plum fruitiness. A flavor of pruney blackberry is complicated by a slightly rustic meaty note, and speaks of this very warm year. The wine's rich, soft texture is enlivened by ripe acidity, and there's noteworthy balance between freshness and power on the pleasant finish.


2004 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale

($100; 100% sangiovese) Medium-deep red. Multifaceted nose offers red- and blackcurrant, flowers, tobacco and licorice, accented by an elegant mineral quality. This displays incredible freshness, with a delicate balsamic quality perfectly framing the red and dark fruit flavors. Finishes extremely long, with spectacularly suave tannins. Now made from the estate's best sangiovese grapes; up to the '01 vintage, this wine was the product of a single vineyard that has since been replanted.


2003 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale

($75; 100% sangiovese) Dark ruby. Lovely fragrant aromas of red cherry and redcurrant, with complicating hints of lightly smoked meat and stony minerality. Copious sweet fruit boasts real depth and power, with good support from a mineral underpinning and a note of heathery underbrush. The long, smooth finish, with its silky tannins kicking in at the end, give the wine a distinctly youthful impression and suggest that this needs some bottle aging.


2004 Fontodi Pinot Nero Case Via Colli della Toscana Centrale

($58) Medium-dark red. Sweet red cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit aromas. Not a blockbuster, and atypical as pinot in Burgundian terms, this nonetheless offers intriguing minerality, pretty fresh red cherry fruit and enviable overall balance. The floral/smoky finish is pretty and moderately persistent. By the way, this is a wine with uncanny aging ability: for example, the '92 is still very good today.


2003 Fontodi Syrah Case Via Colli della Toscana Centrale

($62) Deep red. Somewhat muted nose hints at black pepper and smoke; with aeration, captivating leather and forest floor nuances emerge, along with black pepper and smoky grilled bacon. In the mouth, roasted red fruits, smoke and truffle are complemented by oaky torrefaction. This possesses a solid tannic backbone and good overall acidity, and should develop more complexity with time in bottle.


1999 Fontodi Vin Santo del Chianti Classico

($68; for 500 ml.; a 50/50 blend of red and white grapes) Medium golden-caramel color. Pure aromas and flavors of hazelnut, white chocolate and toffee. Moderately concentrated and fairly sweet; in a lighter style than most Vin Santos. Finishes smooth and moderately long, with hints of citrus fruits and date. (Vinifera Imports, Ronkonkoma, NY)

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