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Carmignano Carmignano 1993 Ambra Riserva le Vigne Alte ($22.99)
Sometimes I decide what wine to enjoy and then fashion a dinner to go with it. This time, however, a wonderful, warming recipe for Beef Stew with Red Wine and Prunes (Daube aux pruneaux), featured recently on the Food Lovers' Discussion Group, prompted me to plan dinner first, then shop for a wine to match. The quest led me to this excellent red, an unusually affordable "Super Tuscan," Chianti-type wines spiced up with the addition of Bordeaux grapes (usually Cabernet and/or Merlot) in the blend.

This wine's a winner, showing very dark garnet colors and breathing warm, spicy black-fruit aromas with a distinct plum compote character. Firm, even "fleshy" on the palate, it offers ripe black fruit and firm acidity, excellent structure and balance. Although it's drinking very well now, it will likely improve even more with time. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Cincinnati; a Marc de Grazia Selection (Oct. 6, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's firm acidity and ripe, plummy flavors make it an exceptional match with the fruity but unsweet flavors of this wine-marinated beef roast.

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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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