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Zymé 2007 Valpolicella Classico Superiore

Celestino Gaspari, the late Giuseppe Quintarelli’s son-in-law, was also seen as his heir apparent in the winery, before he struck on his own and openend Zymé, his own estate, in 2003. One can imagine that the obligatory reference to the former master of the Veneto will fade away with time, if the wines are all as good as his 2007 Valpolicella Classico Superiore. Precise, remarkably balanced and complex, this is not a light pizza wine with simple tart cherry flavors. Think of it more as an Amarone without the partial drying of grapes. It has the dried cherry, spice and tobacco profile that one would expect from an Amarone, but with the freshness and friendly fruitiness of a Valpolicella – all that with a depth and length that is truly remarkable. Better yet, it kept improving over four days after opening, hinting that this bottle could keep going for a good number of years. Highly recommended. RC.
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2007 Castello di Nipozzano Mormoretto

For Mormoretto’s 25th anniversary, the Frescobaldi family has created a vivid super-Tuscan style blend. Beginning with violets, tobacco and wild herbs in the aroma. On the palate, nice targeted tannins are curled around the blended flavors of fruit and leather. This wine is just beginning to come into its own, and tastes like it will develop further as it ages. Recommended. BSE
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2008 Azienda I Greppi Bolgheri Greppicante

This is still a very young wine, softening and adding layers hours after popping the cork. Decant this with lead time and enthusiastic splashing. Otherwise, it will disappoint when first opened, showing a tart to the point of puckering, tannic enough to make the mouth an arid desert. Three hours later, the cabernet aromas and flavors are shining through, with blackcurrant, black berry, leather, and a touch of tar, along with very pretty violet florals. It remains tight and high-toned after several hours of air. Save for at least another five years, though ten is recommended. Drink with a well-marbled ribeye steak. Highly Recommended. DH
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2009 Bonny Doon Contra

Combining the pleasantly mineral and grippy character of Carignane with rounder notes from five other grape varieties, this inexpensive offering from Bonny Doon is rather easy-going, despite the contrarian attitude implied in the name (which also refers to Contra Costa County, where most of the grapes come from). That contradictory character may be found in the fact that it is, in fact, so lovely and elegant and pleasant to drink, despite having fairly moderate alcohol (13.5%) and none of the overbearing fruit that so many Californian wines (certainly in that price range) would have you believe is balanced. At $14, there’s a lot of great stuff in there. A great deal—and just a really pleasant wine to drink. Recommended. RC
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2007 Castello Banfi Belnero Proprietor’s Reserve

The nose offers up a blend of fresh cherries, and the sweet cherries and fondant inside chocolate-covered cherries, a touch of coffee, and a strong shot of vanilla. On the palate the lead is with bright red fruit and chocolate, softening to black cherry and a bit of black fruit on the mid-palate. The vanilla effect of oak shows up on the finish, ending with a strong flavor of sweet milk chocolate-covered cherries. Acids are rather bright, tannins somewhat understated, making it a fair food-matching wine today, but not a strong candidate for long-term cellaring. Drink with eggplant parmesan. This might be highly recommended at half the price, but at $40 it is recommended. DH
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2008 Kirkland Meritage

If you live near a Costco you know where this is going. “Kirkland” is Costco’s proprietary brand for everything from soup to nuts (and I mean that literally). They market a “Kirkland Signature Wine Collection” whereby they slap their own label on wines, and some of them are quite good and represent excellent value. This Meritage is a classic Bordeaux blend. The nose is slightly herbal and gives off whiffs of boysenberry and cedar. The flavors are of blackberry and there is perhaps a shade too much oak. The merlot comes on strong, almost overtaking the cabernet sauvignon, but the fruit is quite nice. A tad one-dimensional, but still very pleasant, and an absolute bargain for the price and quality. Nice with simple grilled meats. Recommended. GT