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Drinks: A satisfying visit to Italy

Wine harvest workers snip off grapes at the

Wine harvest workers snip off grapes at the Castello Banfi vineyard in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy. (Aug. 21, 2003) Credit: AP

The easiest way to visit Italy is via vino. Banfi offers at least four very satisfying routes.

At $11, the Banfi Toscana 2010 Centine Rosso and 2011 Centine Bianco are first-class bargains. These blends are versatile and to the point, and could be mainstays at any party.

The medium-bodied rosso, which brings together sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, is a terrific pizza-pasta choice. It also is a solid accompaniment for grilled red meat, from hamburger to steak. The bianco delivers notes of citrus and tropical fruit in its chardonnay-sauvignon blanc-pinot grigio package, and is ideal with seafood or as a sipper.

The wines of Castello Banfi are, vintage after vintage, among the most reliable and fairly priced selections. The aromatic, enticing 2007 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino ($55) is a ruby-hued winner. It will age well, but is immediately accessible, too. Enjoy it with red meats and big cheeses. And the wine is outstanding company with rich pastas.

The 2007 Castello Banfi SummuS ($69) is a stirring red blend made with sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. It also has a deep ruby shade. This elegant wine delivers both power and finesse, neatly balanced and fragrant. SummuS has, as you'd expect, a long finish. Expect it to age for years before you uncork it to go with beef, lamb, game and ripe cheeses.