Wine of the Week

A Special Recommendation for People Who Love Italy

Wine of the Week

For anyone fascinated with Tuscany, I would like to give my highest possible recommendation to a gentleman with the un-Italian name of Lars Leicht. He's a charming, walking, talking encyclopedia of the area. Leicht works for Banfi, one of the great wineries of Italy, and will be here March 15 to teach a class at Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 206-1014, www.centralmarket.com). I've walked the streets of Montalcino with Leicht, where every second person seems to be an old friend. He has guided my wife and me to well-hidden treasures like a tiny, virtually empty chapel where the few monks left still do their matins with Gregorian chants. He seems to know every restaurant in Tuscany.

Leicht's class, Dive In: Seafood Amore, will offer several recession-friendly food and wine pairings. The cooking part will feature shrimp, calamari, mussels, and cockles, matched with four of Banfi's best value for the dollar Tuscan wines. Whether you get a chance to chat with Leicht or not, the wines are well worth sampling. Banfi's Centine line costs about $12; they make both a red and a white. The red is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot (the combo usually found in Super Tuscans), while the white is Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. Both wines are bright, nicely acidic, and perfect for a pleasing dinner. For a treat, Leicht is also bringing Banfi Belnero ($27), a baby Brunello with a touch more fruit and less youthful austerity. He'll finish with Banfi's version of Brachetto, Rosa Regale ($27), a wine that makes magic with dark chocolate.

These particular Banfi wines (they make more than 30 varieties) will be available at Central Market North when Leicht makes his appearance. Otherwise, all except the Rosa Regale are available at Twin Liquors' Bee Cave location and a few other Twins, as well. All but the Centine Bianco are on hand at various Spec's locations. Banfi wines are generally obtainable at fine wine stores all over town, either in stock or by order.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Lars Leicht, Banfi, Central Market Cooking School, Banfi Centine, Banfi Belnero, Banfi Rosa Regale

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