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Santa Lucia Santa Lucia 1998 Castel del Monte Vigna del Melograno ($7.99)
This wine from Puglia in the "boot heel" of Southern Italy offers unusual complexity and flavor interest for an inexpensive wine. Made primarily from the local Uva di Troia grape with some Malbec and Montepulciano in the blend, it's a dark-garnet color, with perfumed red-fruit aromas and a whiff of fennel. Crisp and bright flavors, fresh fruit and tart acidity, with herbal and earthy notes, and a pleasant hint of bitterness in the finish. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Cincinnati. (Sept. 17, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Surprisingly good match with a non-traditional partner, Thai curry noodles with crab.

WEBSITE: (English version) www.vinisantalucia.com/defeng.htm.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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