1996 Argiano Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany (About $16)

Brunello di Montalcino, the traditional creme de la creme of Italian red wines, comes (naturally) from Montalcino, a medieval hill town south of Florence. It's a splendid wine that needs at least four years' aging to be drinkable. Fortunately, for the impatient and the impecunious, Montalcino has another wine up its sleeve: Rosso di Montalcino, a much more supple wine made from the same grape (most often from younger vines) that needs less aging and is better suited to everyday drinking. Argiano's version, a particularly juicy charmer that tastes mostly of cherries, far outshines many overpriced Brunellos. What's more, it's very food-friendly; it makes a fine introduction to the wines of Montalcino.

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