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Splurge of the Week

January 27, 1994|DAN BERGER

1988 Antinori Chianti Classico, "Badia a Passignano" ($30)-- At a time when there is such a mania about the red wines of Italy, with prices rising for Chianti, Barolo, Barbaresco and even Barbera, leave it to Piero Antinori, the master winemaker of Tuscany, to offer a new wine with an even more elevated price tag. Fittingly, its label looks like a Swiss bank note.

Sure, 30 bucks isn't cheap for a Chianti, but Antinori is the man who created the Super Tuscan fad two decades ago with the release of Tignanello, and this, his new top-of-the-line vineyard-designated Chianti, isn't chopped liver. In fact, it's superb, combining loads of fresh cherry-like fruit and toasty/chocolatey nuances.

Antinori purchased the Badia a Passignano vineyard in 1988, donating the abbey on the property back to the Vallambrosian monks, who had lost the property 121 years earlier.

A companion wine, a more conventionally labeled non-Riserva 1991 Passignano, is an excellent buy at $10.

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