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Delightful Italian red wines

As Fergie sings in "Nine," "Be Italian." Fattoria dei Barbi makes it easy with delightful red wines.

Start with the Tuscan producer's 2006 Brusco dei Barbi ($18), a refreshing, versatile, ruby-hued red that's ideal with antipasti and red-sauced pastas.

Barbi's raspberry-driven Morellino di Scansano ($18) has Chianti-like appeal. Very food-friendly. Then, move on to the house's immediately drinkable Rosso di Montalcino ($20), the lighter, youthful and well-priced bottling of brunello. It works with huskier pastas with meat sauce.

Barbi's full-blown brunellos are excellent. Brunello di Montalcino is among Italy's top wines, big and rich. They mature beautifully, too.

The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino ($53) is a toasty red, ripe and fleshy, with blackberry notes, from a vintage that turned out much better than expected for many producers, including Barbi. Definitely a red-meat wine, from stews to steaks.

Barbi currently peaks with the 2003 Vigna del Fiore Brunello di Montalcino ($110) and the 2003 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ($110). These twin peaks are lush, and the once-tough tannins have softened.

The results are very satisfying, balanced brunellos that need no more time in the bottle. The Vigna del Fiore delivers complexity and a whiff of violet; the full-bodied, refined Riserva hints of black cherry. They're both ideal with a rare T-bone steak.


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