The Abruzzo region of Italy, east of Rome, has been turning up more and more as a place to look for well-made, interesting, cheap wine. The region ?s La Fiera, for one, has made the $10 Hall of Fame the past couple of years.
The Velenosi ($12, purchased, 13%) is another Abruzzo wine worth drinking, though not for the same reasons as the La Fiera. The former was more traditional, while the Velenosi is made in a more modern style, with less acid, a less tannic finish and a more ashy middle (the way some shirazes have a fruity, thick flavor).
But that doesn ?t mean the Velenosi goes too far in that direction, like the once-beloved Tormaresca Neprica. After the wine opened up (which took about 10 minutes), it showed bright and fresh Italian-style red fruit. In this, it strikes balance between the modern and the traditional.
Two caveats: The Velenosi needs food; it ?s a mouthful to drink on its own without something like burgers or pizza. Also, it ?s made with the montepulciano grape, which is not to be confused with the Montepulciano region of Tuscany, home to many high-priced wines.