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Il Podere dell'Olivos 1997 Moana Arrossisce ($9.99)
Il Podere dell'OlivosThis bizarre Italian-style wine made in Southern California's Santa Barbara region may not separate the men from the boys, but when we served it to friends at dinner it divided the men and the women: Two guys thought it was fun, if weird; two women hated it. Bright reddish-amber in color, it blasts a remarkable minty strawberry scent from the glass with more than a hint of bubble gum. Bone-dry yet crisply fruity, with a tickle of petillance on the tongue and a taste of not-quite-ripe persimmons, it's clean and fresh, with a distinct bitter quality in a long finish. An odd blend of Refosco and Aleatico grapes in equal proportions. My conclusion: Imagine a dry, alcoholic Big Red. (Oct. 25, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Works well enough to wash down long-cooked pork carnitas with tortillas.
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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I accept no free samples from wineries or distributors, purchasing all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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