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Tasty, Tasteless Luna di Luna

The 2009 Luna di Luna Sangiovese/Merlot's purple bottle might shock the eye, but the purple inside will please both the wallet and the tongue

I know, I know, the bottle's a regrettable electric purple color—no respectable wine should look like this—but I'll forgive an awful lot of bad taste in packaging if the result is good-tasting wine, and the latest Wine of the Week, the Luna di Luna Sangiovese/Merlot 2009 is most definitely a good-tasting wine. Moreover, at $10 a bottle, it's a terrific bargain. But perhaps this is not meant to be a "respectable"—read traditional, stuffy, intimidating—wine. Perhaps it's meant to be fun and unpretentious, intended to lure 20-somethings away from their designer-driven vodkas and tequilas with similarly eye-catching packaging. And if it is, I wish the producers luck, because it is a delightful wine. The secret here is that if you start with good, low-yield fruit and then do as little to it in the winery as possible—what's called noninterventionist winemaking—and refrain from smothering the wine with layers of oak from aging in new barrels, you find that the lovely fresh-fruit flavors of the unadulterated grapes shine through. Sangiovese is a most appealing varietal, able to show a red-fruit zip along with an appealing rusticity, but it sometimes lacks gravitas when bottled alone. This is where the merlot comes in, adding a touch of polish to the exuberance of the sangiovese, and the combination results in an everyday wine of immense charm, especially considering its easy price tag. When to Drink: Now Breathing/Decanting: Half an hour's breathing really helps Food Pairing: Pasta, red meats, pizza, soft cheeses Grapes: 70% sangiovese, 30% merlot Region: Umbria Country: Italy Price: $10 Availability: Moderate Web Site:

Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently Artisanal Editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes the Nick Passmore: Wine of the Week column to He is also a judge at the widely respected annual Critics' Challenge wine competition.

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