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Domaine des Entrefaux Domaine des Entrefaux 1998 Crozes-Hermitage ($12.99)
Crozes-Hermitage is another of those useful geographical names to know - a Northern Rhone appellation, adjacent to the great Hermitage, that's generally regarded as a downscale, low-rent sibling to its more famous brother, producing similar wines from similar grapes - Syrah in this instance - and generally considered "lesser." That's a relative term, though, and as this tasty item demonstrates, a good Croze-Hermitage in a good year can be of great interest and excellent value. Dark garnet in color, it shows grapey black-fruit and herbal aromas, lavender and fresh basil. Juicy and bright fruit, fresh and full, with fragrant black pepper to add flavor interest and tart acidity to provide structure. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Feb. 12, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with a pan-grilled strip steak.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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