Hi folks. I used a family gathering as a backdrop for a comparison of two reds, the first of it's kind for me this year.
In one corner was a Santa Cristina 2005 Toscana (Sangiovese, Italy), ABV 12.1%. In the opposite corner was a Rutherford Hill 2004 Merlot (Merlot, California), ABV 14.2%.
The Santa Cristina had a rather tight nose to me, with only earthy, woody, almost asphalt-like tones. After some swirling I began to catch a floral aroma. The taste was moderate tanins with some presence of dark fruit. To my disappointment, the finish was abrupt and left my mid-pallate feeling unsatisfied. The sudden finish had me wondering if the product was slightly watered down, not sure. For $12.00, I've had better--Score: 2.0
The Rutherford Hill's aroma was very, very fruity. There were sweet, creamy hints to it (suggesting oak played a part in it's development), with an obvious dark berry component to it. The high alcohol upon taste was very quickly masked by the balance of the fruits, vanilla/caramel hints, and very firm tanins. This lit up my entire mouth, and stayed around for a long time--I was floored by the terrific taste of this--I am sure this will be a tough one to surpass this year for me, particularly for the reasonable $17.99 price. Score: 4.5