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All the way from Volterra

Last night I saw meatballs cooking and mentally flipped a coin to decide between Spanish and Italian. Italy won the toss and had only one player on my close-to-hand rack (about five dozen assorted bottles all for current drinking or tasting - some samples are included - and all at room temperature): Tenuta Monte Rosola's 2004 IGT Super-Tuscan, 100% Sangiovese "Crescendo".

The estate was founded only a decade ago by Gottfried Schmitt and his wife Carmen Vieytes. Just a few miles from Volterra and well outside the various Chianti zones, Monte Rosola was planted with just a couple of hectares of vines and many more olives (their olive oil is probably the best I have ever tasted). The majority of the vines are Sangiovese but there is a smattering of Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot here for their "Corpo Notte" wine which, as the name suggests, is a wine for the night time.

"Crecendo" is, by way of contrast, a wine for the early evening as the sun sets. As the evening builds into the night, so the wine develops its bitter sweet cherry character, intermingled with coffee and tar and, eventually, a hint of plain chocolate. It slips down too easily with its velvety tannins carressing the throat, leaving lingering fruit. Very sumptuous. Evenings such as this should never end.

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