Saturday, March 26, 2005

Wine: Two Cheap Italian Reds

DeLaurenti's, an Italian specialty store in the Pike Place Market, always tempts its customers at the cheese counter with an array of cheap wine. Because the friend I was with yesterday hadn't chugged cheap Italian vino in a few weeks, we grabbed a few bottles to go with dinner.

The first one we opened, the Luccarelli Primitivo Puglia, was disappointing to both of us. A somewhat pleasant berry and vanilla aroma was actually overwhelmed by the spice and tartness in the mouth -- this wine could hold its own against, say, a strongly flavored tomato sauce or a beef dish accompanied by pungent cheese, but it could easily completely overwhelm a more subtle dish. The wine is reviewed favorably over at; I also paid $9.99 for the bottle in Seattle. This isn't a wine I would enjoy drinking without food.

The second we tried, Crinaccio's Rosso Dell' Umbria (2002), was much more agreeable. A Sangiovese/Merlot (80/20) blend, the Crinaccio is a soft, smooth and relatively well-balanced wine. The color is quite dark and pleasant; it's quite clear and attractive. The nose is full of plum and strawberry and has just a suggestion of cedar. It has a long after taste and while it clocks in at 14% alcohol, it would pair well with a rustic (perhaps grilled) dish with fresh herbs. I believe my next order of wine will include a few more bottles of this for evening grilling with friends. Like the Luccarelli, it goes for ten bucks a bottle.

The Luccarelli:
Value: 2.0
Color & Clarity: 3.0
Bouquet: 2.5
Flavor: 1.5

The Crinaccio:
Value: 3.5
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.0


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