Corino 1998 Barbera d'Alba ($12.99)
Dark ruby, with minty black-fruit and pleasant leathery aromas, like sniffing the binding of an old, leather-bound book. Big, juicy fruit flavors are followed by the firm but palatable astringency of youthful tannins; black fruit, herbs and spice persist over lemon-squirt acidity in a long finish. This excellent wine reminds me of the curious reality that the wines based on Nebbiolo grapes may command the greatest respect (and price) in the Piemontese wines of Northwestern Italy, but Barbera surely makes wonderful table wines of great enjoyment at a relatively affordable price. U.S. importer: A Mark de Grazia Selection, represented in this region by Vintner Select, Cincinnati. (April 22, 2000)
Seghesio 1998 Dolcetto d'Alba Vigneto della Chiesa ($11.99)
Inky dark garnet, with dark fruit and floral aromas reminiscent of violets and a hint of slightly dank oak barrels. Better on the palate, ripe if light-bodied, with a hint of tart tomato-skin flavors over fresh fruit. U.S. importer: A Mark de Grazia Selection, represented in this region by Vintner Select, Cincinnati. (April 22, 2000)
FOOD MATCH: Both Alba reds work well with a T-bone with a roast-pepper velouté, but the Barbera's robust body and earthy flavors make it a standout match.
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