2005 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico

Bright, medium-dark ruby. Pretty floral red cherry aroma with hints of tar and mushroom. More red cherry on the palate, reinforced by spicy tea leaf and woodsy nuances. Lively acids keep this pleasant, uncomplicated wine light on its feet. The peppery finish is a tad short, though.


2004 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico

Medium-dark ruby, deeper than the '05. The nose shows dark rather than red cherry aromas, along with hints of coffee and cocoa and pretty notes of violet and black pepper. This offers a pleasant savory quality in the mouth, with moderately intense flavors of redcurrant, mushroom and tobacco and an attractive mineral, tarry finish. Approachable already, but a little bottle aging will help soften it further.


2003 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

($20) Deep medium red. Some new oak is immediately apparent on the nose, followed by delicate sweet raspberry and minty underbrush. More raspberry on the palate, with plump strawberry and red cherry fruit flavors adding complexity. Though not particularly persistent, there are enticing black pepper and tobacco echoes on the very smooth, suavely tannic finish.


2003 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio

Medium red. Dried flowers, field herbs and minerals on the vibrant nose, with exotic hints of framboise and all-spice. More botanical herbs and some intrusive nutty oak flavors complicate the slightly roasted flavors of blackberry, black cherry and graphite. Suave in texture but with a firm edge to its tannins, this finishes long and pure, with sneaky acidity. Keep in mind that Il Poggio has the ability to be one of Chianti's longest-lived wines: for example, well-kept examples from 1977 are still excellent today, and though the furnace-like conditions of '03 won't allow this wine to age as long as that one, it still ought to last longer than most of its colleagues from the same vintage. (Moet Hennessy USA, New York, NY)

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