We opened a couple of nice wines from the 2003 vintage with some friends this past weekend.  2003 was characterized by very high temperatures throughout Europe so the growing season tended to yield very opulent wines with very deep ripe fruit and high alcohol levels.  It was generally considered to be a very good vintage in Europe, and the wines tend to be very fruit forward and can probably be drunk sooner than other classic vintages.  These wines were very different and I purely chose them based on the fact that they were both from 2003.  The Mastrojanni Brunello hails from the Tuscany region of Italy and is made from the Sangiovese grape while the Marojallia, made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, is from the Margaux region of Bordeaux, France.  The Mastrojanni is made in a fairly old school manner and is very complex and delicious.  The Marojallia, on the other hand, is not made in the typical style of the Left Bank, it is made more in the “garagiste” style which originated in the Bordeaux’s Right Bank wine region of St. Emillion.  In fact, it is made by Jean-Luc Thunevin, who is considered to be the originator of the “garagiste” movement.  The “garagiste” movement was begun by those who did not have grand Chateaus but maybe had small parcels of land, on which they limited the amount of fruit grown to get maximum ripeness from the fruit.  They also typically pick their fruit very late, and age their wine in 100% new oak.  The “garagiste” wines tend to be very big, with very high fruit extract, and lots of toasty vanilla oak flavor.  There is some concern about how the wines will age, I tend to think they will age fine.  The real concern, in my opinion, is that the wines represent a more international style of wine.  They are more typical of a California Cabernet than a classic Bordeaux.  Here is a recap of the two different wines.

2003 Mastrojanni, Brunello di Montalcino $47.99

Medium to dark garnet red brick in color.  There is black pepper, caramel, and dark fruit on the nose.  The nose is complex and sexy, the mouth feel is fairly silky, and the finish goes on.  It is very well balanced.  There is a touch of alcohol on the finish as well, but it does not bother.  There is a light smokey note in there as well.  I could drink this wine everyday, though the price warrants more special occasions.  Purchased at Chambers Street Wines.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2003 Marojallia, Margaux $45.00

For the price, this is actually a good deal, if you are interested in trying a “garagiste” wine from Bordeaux.  The nose is very dark fruit and there is a good amount of toasted oak in there too.  The nose is heady and there are notes of cassis.  The tannins are still gripping on the teeth, but there is a silky component as well.  The wine is a bit over manipulated, but it will impress with a balance of power and silk.  Great with a big steak.  For lovers of big California Cabs.  Purchased at Union Square Wines.  RECOMMENDED