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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2005 Stolpman Vineyard Sangiovese***
stolpman.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $32 @ the Winery 5/4/08
Like the 04, ruby red, medium-bodied wine with bright aromas of cherry and raspberry with a hint of smoke. The palate is bigger than the last vintage with deeper tannins and more well-balanced acidity with flavors of ripe cherry, with touches of earth and oak on the smooth, dusty, lingering finish. The 30 months of oak aging creates a more integrated wine without losing the varietal character. A step-up for California Sangioveses.

2005 Tobin James Cellars Sangiovese**
tobinSangio.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $18 @ the Winery 11/5/08
A medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with a youthful nose of strawberry and black cherry with hints of oak and spice. A little acidic right out of the bottle, but it quickly settled down with well-integrated tannins, cherry, earth and oak flavors and a smooth, but moderate finish. This is not a wine to get excited about, but at least it tastes like Sangiovese and it provides enough quality and enjoyment for the price.

2004 Caparone Winery Sangiovese*
caparoneSangio.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $14 @ the Winery 12/28/08
A pale, garnet-colored wine with a bright nose of cherry, smoke and earth with notes of cooked fruit that carry over to the palate, which is rustic and past its prime. The wine is light-bodied with good acidity, but the red fruit flavors were just too stewed and oaked for my tastes. Even at this price point you can find better Italian bargains.

2004 Di Bruno Winery Stolpman Vineyards Sangiovese**
dibruno_sangiovese.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 2/18/10

2004 Stolpman Vineyards Sangiovese**
stolpman.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $32 @ the Winery 10/14/07
Medium ruby-colored wine with a light nose of spice, red berries and cherry. The nose aromas follow through on the palate and are firmed by raucous, dusty tannins. A wine that still needs time and the chance to breathe before drinking. It got better as the night went along, but wasn't as good as in the Tasting Room. (?) Slightly disappointing for the price, but still enjoyable.

OTHER RATINGS: Stephen Tanzer: 91

2003 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico***
92384l.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Tuscany, Italy $24 Wine.com 10/1/07
The color is a concentrated deep-ruby purple. The nose isn't powerful, but is still filled with cherry, raspberry and smoky aromas. The body is fairly light considering the color with softer tannins and acidity than most Chiantis. The palate is filled with dark cherry, earth and smoke with a vegetal note on the medium finish. A well-structured and highly pleasant Chianti.

2003 Tenuta Friggiali Rosso di Montalcino**
tenuta.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Tuscany, Italy $18 The Wine House 7/29/08
Medium garnet/ruby colored wine with a nice nose of red fruits, earth and oak. Quite tight, acidic and tannic for the first half hour or so. With some air and food, it rounded out a bit and showed strawberry, bitter cherry, plum, cedar and smoke flavors with a bit of prune on the moderate finish. This wine is well-integrated and a good exmaple of its type. Could use a bit more time in the bottle to tame the tannins, but the fruit is fading so I'd drink it sooner rather than later and just aerate or decant it.

1999 Tenuta Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino***
99caparzobrunello.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Tuscany, Italy $40 The Wine House 9/30/09
A medium, garnet-colored wine with a fully-developed nose of dried cherry, plum, earth and hints of vanilla and strawberry jam. Due to it's age we just popped and poured. The palate was round with integrated ripe tannins and still a nice bite of acidity along with the cherry, fig, leather and herb flavors. The finish was lingering with some dusty tannins that gave the wine a bit of a rustic quality. A classy, well-structured version of this wine style. Was better with our pepper lamb dinner than without, as one would expect. While still eminently drinkable, I think this wine probably peaked about a year ago. It definitely has some time left, but it won't be getting any better. Was an intriguing experience to drink a wine made a decade ago. Doesn't happen very often for us and made me respect the craft even more.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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