There are two questions to ask about this wine: First, why don’t more retailers carry it? Second, why don’t more producers understand that this is the way to make wine – that is, to let Italian wine (or French or Spanish wine) taste like Italian wine.
This summer, the Wine Curmudgeon has been diligently working his way through the wine closet. The results, however, have not often been pleasant. I have tasted too many $15 or $18 wines that that aren’t worth it, and I have tasted too many European wines – from reputable producers who should know better – that taste like they came from California. In other words, they have too much fruit, too much alcohol and too much tannin. (As an aside: I can’t decide if this is a cynical reaction to the American palate or whether the producers figure the only way to sell their wine is to tart it up. The result, of course, is the same.)
When I drink Italian wine, I want it to taste like Italian wine. Or else I would drink California. Blessedly, the Cusumano tastes oh-so-Italian (Sicilian, actually, in this case) and does it for around $10. It has great fruit (cherry and cranberry maybe?) and it’s fresh and interesting, aromatic and peppery and with the correct acid balance. It’s burgers and meat loaf wine, something for the back porch barbecue. And while you sip, you can enjoy the wine while everyone else is stuck with whatever they got stuck with at the store.