My brother Angy (Angelo) was visiting over the weekend. Drank some good stuff and cooked some good Italian food. Here are the quick notes from memory (I didn't have time in all the activity to take contemporaneous, detailed notes).
2006 Nino Negri VALTELLINA SUPERIORE "Quadrio" (Lombardy, Italy) -- Nebbiolos from the Valtellina are an inconsistent lot. At their best, they are fragrant, lean, lighter versions of the more familiar Nebs from Piemonte. At their worst, they are just plain thin. Not sure if it's a tendency to overcrop in this region or just the difficulty of growing Nebbiolo in the Alpine foothills. This was a good one. Classic Nebbiolo nose of piercing dried cherry, laced with the stoney minerals this region can display. ($20 from Houston Wine Merchant.)
2005 Nicolas Joly SAVENNIERES "Les Clos Sacres" (Loire Valley) -- Try as I might I just haven't been able to get into dry Chenin Blancs. I don't get the allure. Even this biodynamically grown version from one of the region's most respected winemakers wasn't all that pleasurable. Pungent nose showing some intensely-petrolly (verging on nail polish) scents overpowering some ripe guava fruit. Some oxidation showed though in the back half of the palate, which is disappointing given this wine's reputation to age for a few years.
2000 Giuseppi Quintarelli VALPOLICELLA (Veneto, Italy) -- From one of Italy's most revered and iconoclastic old-school winemakers, this cult Valpo absolutely ROCKED. Every sniff and sip was different as this wine went through an amazing metamorphosis. Plums, berries, smoke, earth, humus, baking spices, peat, this list of flavors and smells went on until we killed it. Was $70 from Houston Wine Merchant. Outrageously pricey for a Valpo, I know, but I hadn't had a Quintarelli wine since I was living in NYC in the 80s, and when I saw it just before Angy's trip, I had to get it. (Sorry, 1999 shown.)
2007 Storybook Mountain Vineyards ZINFANDEL "Mayacamas Range" (Napa Valley, Cal.) -- I vacillate between Storybook and Ridge as my favorite Zin producer, but I guess I have to give a slight edge to Storybook. The purity, elegance, and understatedly firm structure is unique among California Zins. This one was a real treat, showing ridiculously pure cherry/black raspberry fruit, excellent stony minerality, and no noticeable oak intruding on any of its inherent virtues. Fantastic balance, texture, and length. Was around $30 at Spec's on Smith a couple of months ago . . . not sure if they have any left.