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Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

'The Tears of Christ'

Mount Vesuvius seen as a backdrop to busy Naples.

I'm generally a little wary of Italian wines whose names carry a local legend, as I've found that in most cases, the legend is more appealing than the wines are. But the story behind Lachryma Christi ("the tears of Christ") is too pleasant not to share. As Burton Anderson tells it in his Vino, The Wines & Winemakers of Italy, "the Archangel Lucifer, cast from heaven, desperately grabbed a piece of it with his fingernails as he fell and placed it on earth as the Gulf of Naples and environs. Noticing the loss, the Lord wept, and where each of his tears fell the first vines grew on earth. This tale probably drew inspiration from a pagan legend that had Bacchus shedding tears with similar results."

The Lachryma Christi appellation lies, indeed, on the lower slopes of Mount Vesuvius, and in the hands of a wine maker of Mastroberardino's quality, it makes acceptable if not great wines. I recently tried the red and the white and enjoyed them both, although I'd rate the white a bit higher on style points.

Mastroberardino 1996 Lachryma Christi del Vesuvio Red ($14.99)
Garnet in color with a pleasant scent of red fruit and white pepper. Juicy and tart on the palate, apple-skin flavors and lemony acidity. Good balance in a fresh, lasting finish. Decent wine, although a bit on the simple side for the price. U.S. importer: Palace Brands Co., Hartford, Ct. (Jan. 26, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Pan-grilled lamb chops. A passable match, although not as felicitous as a Cabernet, lacking the latter's herbal qualities that make it go so well with lamb.

Mastroberardino 1996 Lachryma Christi del Vesuvio White ($12.99)
Clear gold color. Vinous scent, alcoholic and herbal. Full and tart flavor, simple white fruit with hints of almonds and a marked but pleasant bitterness on the finish. U.S. importer: Palace Brands Co., Hartford, Ct. (Jan. 29, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Worked well with a quick chicken-and-broccoli stir-fry.

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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