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Take a Nip of Nero d'Avola

A few reasonably priced Sicilian reds


Nero d'Avola is the most widely planted red wine grape on the Italian island of Sicily. The region has been experiencing something of a renaissance in recent years by championing their unique indigenous varieties and by cutting back on production. Wines made from the nero grape are at the forefront of this quality revolution, offering good body, rich fruit and depth of flavor. Better yet, with a few exceptions, the wines are quite reasonably priced. Here are this week's top picks:

2008 Cusumano Nero d'Avola, $13.99

This wine opens with richly perfumed and floral aromas marked by ripe raspberry and hints of anise, mocha and dusty tobacco. Made in an easy-drinking, fruit-forward style, it's filled with fresh cherry and strawberry flavors, along with light spice and juniper. The finish is bright and lively with nice persistence.

2008 Tenuta Rapitala Campo Reale, $11.99

In this remarkably fragrant wine, undeniably rich but with a surprising delicacy, the fruity aromas are dominated by plum, cherry and currant. Ripe fruit flavors fill the mouth, balanced by just the right hit of cleansing acidity. That acidity lingers on the finish, playing against creamy fruit backed by dark chocolate and spice. This is an excellent value.

2007 Zisola Nero d'Avola, $25

This wine is made by the Mazzei family whose roots in Tuscany date back to 1435. Recently they expanded to Sicily, planting vineyards near the coast, where cool sea breezes moderate the summer heat. That results in a surprisingly supple and elegant wine with soft red fruit aromas and touches of cola and oak. Bolder cherry and raspberry flavors fill the silky palate, colored by black pepper and spice, with smooth tannins coming through on the finish.