At Le Virtù, Iuli Umberta Barbera del Monferrato and Illuminati 2006 Zanna

Posted: April 17, 2011

For serious wine lovers, the only thing more fun than a BYOB is a serious restaurant list that occasionally sells at BYOB prices. That's exactly the case Tuesdays at Le Virtù, where cognoscenti can bring their own sublime bottles of Montevetrano (on steep sale now in state stores) or buy at cost from the restaurant's list of wines largely unavailable on retail shelves. Value hunters should try the Iuli Umberta Barbera del Monferrato ($20 Tuesdays, $42 usually), a live wire of acidity that's a berry-bright expression of food-friendly barbera. For those who'd spend $60 for a middle-tier wine on restaurant lists, though, a real splurge is in order, especially with Illuminati's 2006 Zanna (normally $98) marked down to $62. Given the "Tre Bicchieri" as one of Italy's top 390 wines in 2010, this is vino profondo that's given me new respect for much-maligned Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, with a sun-splashed ripeness that rolls through soft tannins from blackberries into black licorice and a smoky wisp of lapsang souchong tea, lingering like a very fine and fancy jam. Wow.

- Craig LaBan

Iuli Umberta Barbera del Monferrato, $20 Tuesdays ($42 usually); Illuminati Zanna, $62 Tuesdays ($98 usually), Le Virtù, 1927 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-271-5626.

 

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