May 15, 2006

The best $6 red there is

Although I'm hardly the first to say it, the Italian wine producer Masciarelli makes what might be the best $6 (or so) red wine there is.

The latest vintage of their estate bottled Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is the 2002, a rainy harvest in much of Italy that might lead one to believe this wine isn't worth your time if not the few dollars it costs.

But don't be fooled. This might be the best of many years of Masciarelli Montepulciano that I've tried. Consistently rich and fragrant, with a depth that wine two or three times the price hopes for.

Typically this wine is "food" wine, meaning it's not a little bit crisp and tannic. Yet this year's model, while rustic as usual, has an elegance that makes it good with or without dinner.

Most people will call this wine "pizza" wine, suitable only for simple fare. But pop this in a decanter and tell me if it doesn't smell something like a higher grade Tuscan red, and a good one too. I'd serve this with any sort of roasted meat or musroom ragu. Or pizza if you must.

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