As a self respecting Italian woman, I am ashamed to admit: I rarely shop the Italian aisle. Now, don’t get me wrong- I adore a great sultry Brunello, or a nice, decade old Barbaresco. When I am given the opportunity to taste Ornellaia I always think it’s incredible. But the truth is, I rarely find pleasant, inexpensive wines from Italy. The good ones always seem to cost at least twenty-five bucks, and unfortunately, sometimes I have to stick to my budget. So generally I explore the other aisles in the store where value reigns: South America, Spain, Côtes du Rhône, zinfandels etc…
So. When an inexpensive Italian wine impresses me I am flabbergasted. Such was the case with this sexy little bottle from Abruzzo.
I was heading home after work and needed a bottle to accompany my leftover pasta Bolognese. (I’d had a spectacular 2001 Brunello with the first batch, so this had a lot to live up to.) I wanted to try something new, and have been recently focusing on expanding my Old World repertoire. So I looked at a couple Sicilian numbers, thought about an inexpensive Toscana, then veered off toward Southern Italy. This one caught my eye because it was new to the store and frankly, I liked the label. Hey, sometimes you have to just roll with your instincts. And I am so lucky I did.
For only ten bucks this bottle is an absolute steal. The wine was plump and juicy, with loads of blackberry, plum, and currant. Mid-palate there were lovely hints of red and purple flowers and something very slightly mushroomy. I was just plain delighted with this bottle, and have since bought two more for my next adventures in my Italian cookbook.
Side note: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo should not be confused with a Rosso di Montepulciano. Those wines are made mostly with the local clone of sangiovese. It’s confusing, I know. Another reason to stay away from that darn aisle.