well guscus it seems you laid your hands on some of our real beauties. Tenuta Bally's Crespera Riserva is a very nice wine, especially in good years like 1996 or 1997, when the small Cabernet-part was ripe enough to loose the green/capsicum notes it sometimes shows in bad vintages. And the 1997 Topazio (Merlot, also with some Cabernet parts) was just one of the best Ticino-wines ever made.
You're however right, older vintages (especially the great 1990, 1996 and 1997) are almost impossible to find; the quantities of these wines are not very big and they're usually completely absorbed by our high-end home-market at arrival.
Of the actual vintages, 1998 was very mediocre, 1999 was better (good). Best 1999-wines tried so far are:
- Orizzonte (Zündel)
- Rosso di Sera (Klausener)
- Crespera Riserva (Bally)
All the high-end Crus mentioned in the former posts should be better than their 1998 versions as well.
Next time you're in Switzerland, try to buy the wines directly from the producers. It is usually possible and the costs are a fraction of what you pay in a retail shop. I can give you the phone-numbers of most producers then.
I have to be a bit careful with patriotism concerning wine (I don't want to be slapped by some of our forumites like poor Mishy
), but I'm a big fan of Merlot del Ticino. The effords in the last decade are enormous and nowadays the best wines show unique characteristics: They're elegant like Pomerols, but they have this distinctive smoky earthiness and mineralic notes that can only come from colder/more extreme climates.
Please post TN's on your ('98 or '99?) Topazio, I'm very curious!