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Interview With a Vintner

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David Lynch may not consider himself a sommelier ("there are people who get degrees in that," he says), but he certainly knows his bottles. As the wine director at Babbo, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's celebrated Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, Lynch does more than help diners pick the perfect wine for their prosciutto San Daniele and pappardelle Bolognese. He has also written James Beard Award-winning articles, driven for a year across Italy's wine country, and coauthored Vino Italiano with Bastianich. While waiting for his upcoming book, Vino Italiano Buying Guide, we decided to ask Lynch for a few recommendations in advance.

If Money Were No Object
Produced in the Tuscan village of Bolgheri, Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia 1999 ($250) is a massive merlot most people would put in the cellar for ten years. I say get a beautiful porterhouse, decant this thing about an hour before drinking it, and live it up.

The Right White
Collio Pinot Grigio, Marco Felluga 2002 ($12) is what Pinot Grigio is supposed to be: fleshy, juicy, almost Chardonnay-like. This wine is one of the great buys in Italian whites, and in white wine in general. Round and creamy but without any oaky, buttery notes.

A Sparkling Surprise
I'm constantly banging the drum for Franciacorta, Italy's destination for serious sparkling wine. The Bellavista Cuvée Brut NV ($28) is predominantly Chardonnay, with Pinot Noir and Pinot Bianco comprising the balance. It's a great alternative to Champagne.

Save for Dessert
Bright, peachy, low-alcohol, with a little bit of fizz, Moscato d'Asti "Clarte," Elio Perrone 2002 ($12) is Piedmont's all-purpose dessert wine. You can even throw a few shots into a bowl of fresh berries and toss it around like a dressing.

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