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Clos de la Belle Marguerite Domaine Sirugue 1997 Clos de la Belle Marguerite Côte de Nuits-Villages ($14.99)
Some Burgundy fanciers (I hate to call them "snobs") dismiss mere "Villages" Burgundies as being too generic to merit attention. But the real world's not that simple, as this tasty item demonstrates. If it lacks the complexity and finesse of a grand cru, it also lacks the price; and at its midrange level, it's more than competitive. Clear ruby in color, it offers red-fruit and an intriguing earthy "paintbox" aroma that I'm more accustomed to finding in South African Pinotage than Burgundian Pinot Noir. Fresh, simple red-fruit flavors are simple but pleasant, opening up to riper, more textured fruit with time in the glass. Crisp acidity and a soft edge of tannins make it a fine food wine and suggest at least a few years' aging potential. U.S. importer: Southern Wine and Spirits, Miami. (Nov. 17, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Chosen to accompany a French-style dish of long-simmered lamb shanks with white beans.

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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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