Though Brunello di Montalcino has the big name, savvy wine buyers search out Rosso di Montalcino from top producers. Generally made from younger vines and aged less, Rosso is also much less expensive -- and often more pleasurable to drink than Brunello, especially in warmer weather.
The 2007 Rosso from Azienda Agricola Uccelliera is bright and fresh, with much the same flavor profile of its big brother, just younger and more supple. It's always great with a salumi platter, some good Pecorino or other sheep's milk cheese, a frittata from the garden or pasta dish. I'm thinking one with chicken liver sauce or some kind of ragu. It's a great burger wine too. And about as versatile a red as you can find.
-- S. Irene Virbila Region: Tuscany
Price: About $30.
Style: Bright and fruity.
What it goes with: Salumi, cheese, frittata, pasta.
Where to find it: Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463, www.hitimewine.net; Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese, Los Angeles, (323) 856-8699; Twenty Twenty Wine Merchants, West Los Angeles, (310) 447-2020, www.2020wines.com; the Wine Country, Signal Hill, (562) 597-8303, www.thewinecountry.com; Wine Exchange, Orange, (714) 974-1454, www.winex.com; the Wine House, West Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, www.winehouse.com.