Qupé 2000 Los Olivos Cuvée ($19.99)
A blend of Syrah (55%), Mourvedre (27%) and Grenache (18%) grapes from the Ibarra-Young and Stolpman vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. Clear ruby in color, it breathes forward, pleasant scents of ripe red fruit with whiffs of aromatic vanilla and fragrant pepper. Fresh plum and cherry flavors are so fresh and ripe that they almost seem sweet, laced up with snappy lemon-squirt acidity. While it shows a touch of Rhone style in its blend of varieties, it hasn't lost its American accent. US Importer: (Nov 10, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: The robust, slightly gamey flavor of lamb goes well with Rhone-style red blends; I paired this with an ethnic preparation from a bit off the beaten path, Khoresht-e Gheimeh, a lamb and split-pea stew from Margaret Shaida's excellent new book, The Legendary Cuisine of Persia.

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