Elsewhere in Europe

Want to taste your way through another country? Local restaurants are a good first stop

There's also the question of how to produce a proper Barolo: Some (the traditionalists) say the only way to do it is to let the tannins soften for a decade or so; others (the modernists) say it's okay to produce a fruitier version of the wine, one that doesn't require so much aging to make it drinkable. The Barolos made by the traditionalists are collector's items (read: valuable). All told, there are more than 1,000 producers of Barolo.

MacKondy also stocks bottles of less expensive wines, like a $13.99 Micante Solo Maremma 2003 from southwestern Tuscany, 100 percent Sangiovese, on which he'll stake his name. "There's a big misconception that all of our wine's expensive," he says. "But the wines I do have under $20 I would put up against anybody's, because they're ruthlessly chosen."

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