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Negative index metamaterials are demonstrated based on metal-dielectric nanocomposites prepared using a versatile bottom-up nanofabrication approach. The method involves the incorporation of vertically aligned metal nanowires such as Au and Ag inside dielectric aluminum oxide nanotemplates. Optical absorbance measurements show resonance peaks corresponding to the transverse and longitudinal surface plasmon modes. A quantitative model based on effective medium theory is in excellent agreement with experimental data, and points to specific composite configurations and wavelength regimes where such structures can have applications as negative refraction media for imaging.