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villa antinoriThis wine exemplifies what I love about Italian wine. Not that it’s a great wine but that it’s charms are distinctively Italian—beautiful aromatics with an earthy, austere, bittersweet quality on the palate that exudes a tough, resilient spirit.

It isn’t surprising that Antinori’s wines are representative. Antinori is the 10th oldest family owned business in the world tracing its lineage and winemaking back to 1385. They were at the forefront of the Super Tuscan wine revolution with their Tignorello and Solaia brands, and are one of the largest producers in Italy. A winery steeped in tradition confident in who they are doesn’t have to concede to the contemporary fondness for plush and smooth.

This is one of their entry level red wines.

Effusive aromas of ripe, red berry, dusty earth, hazelnut and licorice darkened by a bit of cedar reveal a strong personality–for the price a spectacular nose. On the palate there is some concentration up front but the wine quickly flattens out and lacks depth, feeling angular, as if dismissing any need for seduction. Strong acidity and some grain on the tannins makes for a mouthwatering, rustic, sour cherry-inflected finish.

Acerbic and gritty but expressive like one of Dylan’s rants.

Score: 87

Price: $18 average but $14 at Costco.

Alc: 13%

Tech Notes: The blend is mostly Sangiovese with a bit of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Aged 12 Months in oak casks.