Since my first sips of 1990 Taurino Notarpanaro, I have leaped on any new issue of a Cosimo Taurino wine. Last year's version was a serious best buy, and this vintage (at $8 a bottle) also delivers good quality at a price that's tough to beat.

The color is strange, or at least different--while it's a young wine, it's a shade of red you tend to see only with age: a light garnet fading toward orange at the edges. It is surprisingly fragrant, if one dimensionally, offering earthly, herbal scents. The taste offers good fruitiness, lighter than with the 1997 but still quite good. The real mark of this wine, though, is the acidity: sharp but not too strong, it makes it an excellent complement to dishes involving tomato sauces or sausage. The tannins in the wine are hardly noticeable, but present, leading to a nice length of flavor after the sip.

There's no question this wine is not everyone's cup of tea, so to speak. But if you're into Italian cuisine and you tend to rely on Chiantis, give this wine a try. It will be a refreshing change.

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