Every year I look forward to sampling the newest Crognolo. For a huge, corporate, hi-production and well-distributed wine, it remains one of the most solid, age-worthy, and easy-to-find bargains out of Tuscany. I’ve heard it referred to as *baby Oreno*, but that’s not really fair–as Oreno contains no Sangio, and Crognolo merely has a chunk of Merlot. It is always a well-put-together wine for the price, and I keep a pretty good vertical of it. I almost dread tasting the new release–as it is a wine showing ridiculous infantile characteristics under 5 years of age–and when this 2018 appeared table-side from the list, I rolled my eyes but blundered on, as I already have this wine in my cellar but haven’t tried it.

Dark ruby in the glass, but transparent throughout and evenly-colored out to the rim. Raspy barnyard is a welcome smell in a wine of this production-level, and speaks volumes to intent despite demographic. The nose is otherwise full of rich cherry and dusty earth–a protrusion experience has shown will translate predictably on the palate. Dull blood-orange, cedar and chaparral create herbaceous under-pinnings to the very ripe and round berry.

Tasting it again refreshes my long-time awe at how young this stuff is typically consumed. Brash and tannic–even on entry–acid at every turn, but the super-ripe cherry does a good job of holding everything together for early-term enjoyment. This one actually feels a little warmer and flabbier than past years, due in part to the heady barnyard that pervades even into the mouth. It’s big and thick and chewy, the ridiculous green stemmy tannins surfacing at full intent mid-center and wrapping the fruit in a tight embrace through the peppery finish. The last thing you feel is the blackberry and concord jam trickling down your throat, waving pleasantly on their way to a 5-year bed.

2018 TENUTA SETTE PONTI ‘Crognolo’ Sangio/ME Toscana Italy 14.0

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