Anavim, which I've mentioned before, is a local importer specializing in Tuscany, headquartered in a very friendly store in Tel Aviv, on the corner of Ben Guriyon and Ben Yehuda. They don't have a web site but you can contact them through Hagit Sasportas, the store manager.
The Brunello tasting was a mixture of some recent and not so recent vintages, some regular Brunellos and some Riservas. Some of the wines were decanted for a couple of hours and some opened on the spot, making it tricky to gauge their drinking windows. I'll mark the decanted wines with a (D).
CastelGiocondo, 2002 (D)
A good wine from a bad vintage, I suppose, though it has some obvious faults. Both nose and palate are very rich, with earthy overtones, though after a while in glass, the richness turns jammy. There is some hollowness in mid-palate and the tannins are coarse.
Banfi, 2001 (D)
Going up a few steps in class. The nose is more interesting and nuanced, with shades of earth and mocca over a background of black fruit, then a bit of leather, pine and herbs. Very concentrated with ripe acidity. I'd guess it needs a couple of years of aging but I don't know how to factor in the decanting.
San Felice, Campogiovani, 2001 (D)
A much more reserved nose, with great aromas of wild berries, leather and smoke. Then... you know, it's a common disappointment with wines. You sniff and get excited then you sip with great anticipation and wind up muttering curses in your neighbor's ear. In this case, the palate is so ripe it's near sweet and you look for the grip and structure the nose hints at and it's barely there, though the tannins do assert themselves on the finish. I can't tell for sure, but maybe the decanter did it.
Il Poggione, 2001 (D)
This wine elicited different reactions 'round the table yet I'm not sure it's taster variation, more likely a bizarre case of glass variation, because I compared my glass with a friend's and they were much different, mine having been the last poured from the decanter. Mine was very stingy and austere, highlighting the alcohol on the nose. I managed to make a note of a spicy/bitter finish before the wine died in my glass. Obviously, the decanting did it little good.
Banfi, Poggio alle Mura, 2001
This is the middle rung in Banfi's Brunellos, the regular Brunello being the lower rung and the other Riserva, the Poggio all'Oro, being the upper one. Quite a nose on this one, a concentration of berries, leather and smoke, with good impression being carried over to the palate, which is powerful, chewy and long.
CastelGiocondo, Ripe Al Convento, Riserva, 1995
A little carmelized at first, it solwly, very slowly, opened to show wild berries and hints of meat. I'm not sure whether the serving conditions did it any justice. It probably didn't need decanting, which it didn't get anyway, but a longer time in glass to open. Actualy, I thought we rushed to the next wine much too fast so I poured the Ripe Al Convento to a second glass but the other glass was too small and though the wine did start opening, at the end of the day I had to give up on it. Possibly a wasted opportunity.
Il Poggione, Riserva, 1998 (D)
Ripe and modern on the nose, possibly the fruitiest wine of the evening, before it shuts down in glass. Makes up for a relative lack of power and complexity with smooth elegance.
Banfi, Poggio all'Oro, 1999 (D)
A very focused and elegant nose, though it feels embryonic. The palate is very youthful, showing great length, beautiful acidity and elegant tannins. High breed.
Banfi, Poggio all'Oro, 1993
Lightly oxidized at first, which might have been the reason a few people proclaimed "Bissli Grill!" Whatever, as the wine recovered from its long slumber, the bissli aromas became more refined, more along the lines of steak seasoning. Very elegant and fresh on the plate, if not very complex, with the mellowness of bottle age.