The Best of the Best 2003: International Red Wines - 1997 Castello Banfi Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino

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American wine importers John and Harry Mariani created Castello Banfi just a couple of decades ago, yet the vineyard projects the aura of a wine estate that has been in continual operation since the Middle Ages. Starting with a 4,500-acre plot near Montalcino, the Marianis drafted Italian oenologist Ezio Rivella to make the wines. They soon purchased an adjacent estate of 2,600 acres and, in 1984, a striking 11th-century stone fortress. The fortress became the crowning glory of the Banfi estate, which was renamed Castello Banfi.

Poggio alle Mura comes from sloping vineyards situated beneath the walls of the castle. The 1997 Castello Banfi Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, from a classic vintage that has proved one of Tuscany’s greatest, is lush and rich with smooth texture and dense, spicy fruit. It offers superb depth and lovely finesse. Here, we honor a stylish, modern approach to a century-old wine that has become a standard-bearer for Italian winemaking.

Banfi Vintners, 800.645.6511 ext. 532; $70

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