Wine review: LiVeli Negroamaro Passamante 2005

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Some of the best cheap wine in the world today is coming out of Italy. This is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the Italians suffer from the same weak dollar problems that affect everyone else. It's amazing what a producer can do when they want to sell something, isn't it?

Of course, there are a couple of other reasons for the price. The LiVeli (about $12) is made with the negroamaro grape in Salento, which means it's made with a little known grape in a little known region (the boot heel of the Italy), neither of which is going to drive up the price. The Wine Curmudgeon is quite thankful.

Negroamaro makes dark, inky red wine. But there is nothing unpleasant about this, as is sometimes the case with inexpensive wine. Rather, it's full and rich and almost black raspberry-ish (with, of course, a nice shot of Italian acidity). Best yet, it's not heavy. I drank it with cappellini tossed with quartered cherry tomatoes just out of the garden, basil, chopped garlic and olive oil, and the sweetness of the tomatoes made a wonderful foil for the wine.

One note: The 2007 should arrive in the U.S. later this summer. I'd buy the 2005 and put the 2007 away for another nine months. It should just get better. How often can you say that about an inexpensive wine?

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