I'll be the first to admit I've had mixed experiences with the red wine of Tedeschi, from the Valipolicella region of Italy. Some of the wines are really nice, others seem just a little flat, if not spritzy with bad funky aromas and flavors. There is good funk in red wine. That's not what I'm talking about.
But the 2004 Tedeschi Valipolicella Capitel dei Nicalo is a terrific wine for $15 or even less a bottle. This is really a junior amarone, not a "ripasso" wine where the pressings from amarone wine production are added back or "repassed" to regular Valipolicella wine to beef it up. No, in this case the grapes for the Capitel dei Nicalo, mostly the corvina variety typical of this region, are dried for a month before being crushed and fermented into wine. Grapes for Amarone are dried for several months, and make a powerful, concentrated table wine. Here, the short drying gives a real taste of that wine style, for much less money and without quite the heady drinking experience.
When I opened the Capitel dei Nicalo last night, I thought it might be a little bretty. Meaning, affected by certain yeast that give a horse blanket smell and taste to the wine, or something similar to the pungent, even bitter aroma of band aids. A little can add nice complexity to wine. A lot can make wine undrinkable. But with time, and now a night later, this wine shows less and less of that. Instead, there are pure spicy red cherry, almond, floral, concentrated aromas with a round, full flavor. There's some tannin and bright acidity, but the richness of the wine is perfectly balanced, the flavor long and savory.
This 2004 may not be the current release, and given my experience with this producer, I will try the 2005 with some reservation. But reading other reviews of this online after a quick Google search, it sounds like this one is usually a winner in the Tedeschi portfolio. So whichever vintage you might come across, give it a try.