Where has this wine been all my life? It does everything a great cheap wine should — reflects its origins, pairs with food, and doesn't cost a lot of money. Make room in the Hall of Fame, as well as the wine closet, since I'm buying a case.
The basics, quickly, about the La Fiera ($8, purchased) before the Wine Curmudgeon goes into lyrical, wine writer overdrive: It's a red wine from the Abruzzo region east of Rome and is made with the montepulciano grape (and is not be confused with the pricer Montepulciano from Tuscany, which is made with sangiovese). Wine quality in Abruzzo has improved significantly over the past decade or so, but prices have remained more or less the same.
Which is one reason why this wine is so exciting. The La Fiera smells oh-so-Italian, and tastes of very sour cherries. Plus, it has that wonderful dark earth quality that isn't so much a flavor or an aroma, but more of a presence — something that so many wines, of all prices, aspire to but fail to deliver. One sip of this and you'll be thinking of your mom's spaghetti and meatballs. It's also perfect for grilled sausages and peppers over the Labor Day weekend. Highly recommended.