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Italian red wines that are a dream

It's easy to daydream about Italy, maybe with a glass of wine nearby. And these evocative reds are cheaper than a plane ticket.

The Antinori family, which has been making wine since the 14th century, brightens the season with the reliable 2007 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva, a medium-bodied, food-friendly red that's ideal with lasagna, cannelloni, pasta with meat sauce or a prime rib. About $35.

Antinori's rich 2007 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva is all sangiovese and a vibrant taste of Tuscany. The name will remind some travelers of a Benedictine abbey, and a fine restaurant. The flavors signal grilled steak and roast beef. About $53.

Frescobaldi's 2007 Castello di Nipozzano Mormoreto delivers a complex, layered ripe red, full of excellent fruit, with a hint of vanilla. This vintage is the 25th Mormoreto, a single-vineyard wine that may remind you of a Bordeaux on a sunny vacation. It calls for red meat and mature cheese. About $75.

If your thoughts are drifting toward Umbria, the wine in that glass may be sagrantino, a distinctive red from a grape that grows just south of Perugia.

The 2006 Perticaia Sangrantino di Montefalco is a concentrated, slightly tannic, ruby-red wine. It has cherry notes. The wine can age a few more years and will be a match for grilled red meat. About $50.

Velvety, powerful and celebratory: the 2007 Arnaldo-Caprai Collepiano Sangiovese di Montefalco. Give it four or five years before uncorking. It will be worth the wait, especially with a juicy steak. About $60.

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