The Vin Santo here is Italy's best after the two made by Avignonesi, and an insider's tip is that brothers Luca and Francesco Martini di Cigala always have a few barrels that are the equal of anything made there. Quantities are small though, and the brothers are toying with the idea of perhaps one day producing a stellar non-vintage sticky that people will rave about, though I shudder at the price it might command. Until they decide what to do, enjoy yourself with one of the greatest Super-Tuscans of them all, the 100%-sangiovese Percarlo, made from a selection of the best grapes of the property, and the 100%-merlot La Ricolma, a cult wine that is now back in top form after a few vintages that Luca was less than happy with. "The '03 is a transition year for the Ricolma," he says. "Now we're harvesting the merlot two weeks later on average, right before the sangiovese, which is unheard of. But we feel we get more richness and depth of flavor this way, without risking any jamminess."
($25) Medium ruby. Fresh, floral aromas of blackberry and plum, with a delicate balsamic edge. Then sweet and bright in the mouth, with intense berry flavors nicely framed by harmonious acids. The tannins turn a tad dry on the long, crisp finish.
($25) Bright medium ruby. Lovely ripe black fruits tinged with violet, espresso and menthol. Very suave on entry, then smooth and fine-grained, with good mineral lift to the sweet dark fruit flavours. Bigger in structure but also more complete than the more perfumed but youthfully backward '05.
($40) Medium-dark red. Spicy plum and smoke on the nose, with a very intense mentholated element. Then fat, sweet and concentrated, with harmonious acidity framing the black fruit flavors; suggestions of maple syrup and grilled rare meat add complexity. The long finish shows an intriguing saline quality, but this will need time to resolve its dominant oak aromas.
($68) Deep ruby. Smoky, minerally aromas of violet, red cherry and blackcurrant, with hints of truffle, tobacco and pastrami. Very suave on entry, then smooth and fine-grained, with good mineral lift to the sweet fruit flavors. Sweet, lush and seamless wine, powerful yet elegant thanks to fine acidity that draws out the finish for minutes. An amazingly good, utterly textbook sangiovese that clearly communicates the greatness of this variety.
($68; 100% merlot) Inky ruby. Ripe, concentrated and vibrant aromas of black cherry, raspberry, milk chocolate and flowers. Red fruit and spice flavors are complicated by a delicate smoky nuance on the back end, with plenty of acidity and sweet tannins keeping the wine lithe and long on the palate. The numbers tell part of the story of this refined merlot: 6.3 grams per liter of total acidity, a very high 31.6 grams of dry extract, and a late harvest on September 27 and 28.
($60; for 375 ml.) Deep, golden butterscotch-yellow color. Profound nose of apricot jam, white chocolate, fig, date and hazelnut. The palate delivers similar flavors of unbelievable richness, with a mouthcoating richness that goes on forever. A spectacularly well balanced wine of uncommon power, with fine acidity making it an absolute joy to drink. (Marc de Grazia; importers include Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY; Vin Divino, Chicago, IL; and Estate Wines Ltd., San Rafael, CA)