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One of the true joys of drinking wine is the opportunity to discover new varietals. For me the Monica grape is one such discovery. Seldom seen outside its home in Sardinia, Argiolas is producing and exporting to the U.S. a fine version of it from grapes grown in its Perdera vineyard. (The 2007 is 90% Monica, 5% Carignano, and 5% Bovale Sardo) Sardinia is a Mediterranean island of the coast of Italy best known, in the wine world, for its Cannonau (Grenache) and Vermentino. Based on this sample, Monica should get more attention.

The Perdera is a medium body wine with lively acidity, restrained tannins, and lots of concentrated fruit. The nose shows prune, wet loam, and hints of bacon. The prunes become black cherry on the mid-palate enveloped in a background of spice, giving way to a soft but full finish of modest length that tastes faintly of toasted almonds. Rustic but well-balanced with a pleasing mouthfeel, this grape compares favorably with Chianti, but with darker fruit than is characteristic of Chiantis in this price range. Argiolas is a long-standing, respected winery. Their Cannonau and Vermentino are also recommended.

Good: Rustic but with some complexity and refinement.

Bad: The finish is a bit short

Distinctive: An unusual varietal that should receive more attention.

A terrific value at around $12.00