- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rocca delle Macie, Morellino di Scansano, Campomaccione 2004, $13

Do you miss good, dry, affordable Chianti? Not the thin stuff in wicker fiaschi of 30 years ago, but medium-weight red wines with dark cherry flavors, dusty undertones, and plenty of acidity to complement tomato-rich Italian-American dishes?

Sadly, the prices for most good Chiantis — there are plenty on the market — have crept higher and higher, making too many of them special-occasion rather than casual supper wines.

If you look elsewhere in Tuscany, however, you can find wines with similar flavor profiles that remain priced for everyday drinking. One of the best sources is the hilly vineyard area around the town of Scansano in the province of Grosseto. The grape of choice there is sangiovese, much as in Chianti, though it goes by its traditional, local name, morellino.

When well-made, morellino di Scansano is dry, with a core of fresh fruit enhanced by a leathery tinge. Good examples, like Rocca delle Macie’s 2004, also offer a fragrant, slightly sweet bouquet that literally can make your mouth water. This wine tastes unmistakably Italian and is just right for drinking with lasagna, pizza, spaghetti and other all-American favorites.

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