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Scouting for the tastiest holiday reds

Barbera is a feisty varietal with crisp acid, and that's what makes it such a savvy holiday pick.

“Barbera is a great wine for this time of year because it can go well with holiday favorites like ham and turkey and cranberries and especially the Italian holiday specialty, cioppino,” said Greg Graziano, vintner and winemaker of his namesake winery, Graziano Family of Wines.

Graziano produced our wine-of-the-week winner — the Enotria, 2010 Mendocino County Barbera, a value at $17.

It doesn't get any better for Barbera than this. The Enotria has tangy red fruit, and it's smoky and meaty, with a crisp finish.

This striking red is particularly impressive for the price.

“One of the great things about working in Mendocino is that our grape prices are more reasonable than Napa and Sonoma, partly because our land prices are more reasonable and, unfortunately and incorrectly, we have a less famous reputation for wine than our friends to the south,” Graziano said.

The vintner is one of the most prolific in Wine Country, with brands that also include Saint Gregory, Monte Volpe and Graziano. “My family members are grape growers from Piemonte, Italy, the homeland of barbera,” Graziano said. “We are one of the oldest grape-growing families of Mendocino County, since 1918.”

Graziano grew up in the vineyards, and later studied at UC Davis, where his daughter Alexandra now studies.

is also studying to be the fourthgeneration at the winery. Graziano founded the Graziano Family of Wines with his wife, Trudi, in 1988.

“I guess with my history, I was destined to be a winegrower,” he said. “I really fell in love with wine and grapes at an early age ... I really knew the direction of wanting to produce Italian varieties from my first trip to Italy in 1982, when I visited my family in Asti and saw its small winery and vineyards.”

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