It isn’t hard to find a good Italian restaurant in Northern California where I live, but other parts of the country don’t have it so easy. My mom lived in a small town, and in her final years she liked nothing more than to take a drive up the road to Olive Garden. And I had no complaints. The food was always tasty, if on the salty side, and it wasn’t like we had better alternatives. I stuck with the basic pastas and filled up on salad.
It helped that Villa Antinori Toscana was usually on the wine list and sold by the glass. The wine is Antinori’s idea of a value-oriented super Tuscan, blending Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. It blends Old World acidity and earthiness with New World texture and richness.
I hadn’t tried the wine in a few years and recently saw a bottle of the 2006 on the grocery shelf and bought it. I wasn’t disappointed. It was supple and slightly jammy but had excellent structure and fine tannins, with lots of smoky plum and fresh licorice notes. I gave it 90 points, non-blind. The suggested retail is $24, but I found it for $19, perhaps because the 2007 has just been released.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Antinori Toscana Villa Antinori Red 2006 (90, $24).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for recently rated Top Values among Italian reds.