Banfi, Brunello, 1997 (Oct. 13, 2007)

Steve Tanzer's IWC loved it (97), Parker was lukewarm (86), Wine Spectator rated it highly (94) but called it "a Brunello for everyone", a backhanded compliment if I ever heard one. From where I'm sitting (Seinfeld and Boston Legal re-runs instead of the Israel-Ukraine game, too depressing that one, no matter how it turns out), it's a wine I'd prefer to drink alone rather than have it get lost in a tasting.

Not a Brunello powerhouse ten years post-vintage, in a way it almost seems like a Chianti or a Vino Nobile. Very elegant, the fruit is very mellow on both nose and palate, adorned by roasted meat, gentle spices and chocolate as well as a hint of mushrooms. Quite an aromatic nose but not a huge body. A lot of flavors, though, etched in small strokes over the juicy acidity, that linger at surprisingly great length. I think this particular bottle has peaked but the structure is firm enough to ensure some three to five years at this plateau. Adding my bit to the score controversy, it's probably a 91.

Current vintages are imported by Anavim.

I actually only paid about 160 NIS (less than 40 USD these days) for it and in retrospect should have bought more at that price.