Big Italian Wines at Bargain Prices

Southern Italy offers price-conscious wine lovers an astonishing array of superb bargains for $25 or less, often made from indigenous grapes that were largely unknown to consumers several years ago. My colleague Antonio Galloni reports that southern Italy offers a wide assortment of wines, with a veritable kaleidoscope of grape varieties and styles. Despite the weak dollar, this region is still a treasure trove for great deals.


Botromagno 2005 Primitivo (Apulia) This wine reveals a plump, super-ripe personality loaded with smoke, dark cherries, earthiness, and leather. It offers notable complexity as well as a full-bodied, ripe style. Primitivo is believed to be a relative of zinfandel. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2009. $17


Castello Monaci 2006 Primitivo Piluna (Apulia). A wine of uncommon beauty, this vibrant, pure red graces the palate with layers of dark cherries, sweet herbs, licorice, and tobacco. It offers outstanding length and terrific balance. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2011. $13


Colosi 2006 Nero d'Avola (Sicily). Offering complexity along with well-articulated notes of mint, violets, and chocolate that complement its gorgeous sweet, dark fruit, this winner from Colosi should not be missed. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2012. $12


Tormaresco 2004 Primitivo Torcicoda (Apulia). A big, jammy offering with lovely nuances of herbs, tobacco, leather, licorice, and oak that play off the wine's ripe, dark fruit. It offers outstanding length and terrific balance, with a final note of sweetness that lingers on the finish. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2016. $21


Agricole Vallone 2003 Salice Salentino Vereto (Apulia). The 2003 Salice Salentino Vereto (90% negroamaro, 10% malvasia nera) is absolutely beautiful. It is made in a weightless, refined style but has an additional level of density and expansiveness that is irresistible. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2013. $13

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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