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poggio al tufoA glorious wine for the price. It melds brash yet generous energy with a stern, sturdy backbone.

Simple, precise aromas of blackberry jam, grilled rosemary, and licorice blanketed by the scent of dusty, country roads give this wine an old world signature. But there is plenty of ripeness to leave a luscious first impression on the palate. It’s bursting with fleshy fruit upfront, then reveals herbal flavors at midpalate as it also begins to acquire toughness, an edgy angularity in the top notes while the dry, finely honed tannins forge a textured path through the  medium length finish. There is plenty of inner strength with firm acidity on a medium plus frame. The seam of fruit narrows as the wine  patiently evolves but it persists through the duration. This is a unique expression of Cabernet Sauvignon quite unlike new world versions. Part of its distinctiveness comes from the oak treatment—12 months in large Slavonian oak casks. Plenty of oxygen but little wood extraction.

There is tension and grit but also warmth and generosity. A fun companion but watch your back.

The music pairing was remarkable. Literally any song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers enhanced this wine by bringing out its different dimensions. But Can’t Stop was the most satisfying. It highlighted the wine’s backbone until the fetching bridge when it exuded generosity.

Technical Notes: Tommasi is the largest landowner in Valpolicella but they own vineyards in several other wine regions in Italy including these vineyards in coastal Maremma with soils rich in Tufo, a type of volcanic rock.

Score: 92

Price: $16 (See Vintus for purchasing information)

Alc: 13%