The Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a brilliant, well-made, and delicious $10 Italian red wine
Some things, fortunately, haven’t changed for the worse during the duration. One of them is the Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
I first tasted this wine at the beginning of 2019 and loved it. My notes ask, “Where has this wine been all my life?” But, somehow, I neglected to use it on the blog. So when I saw a bottle of the Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($10, purchased, 13%) on wine.com, I bought it again, and this review is the result.
It’s not too much to call this wine brilliant, well-made, and delicious — everything $10 wine should be. The fruit this time wasn’t quite as dark and plummy as it was in 2019 (more tart and zippy, actually), but it was still earthy and still had all that bright Italian acidity. Mushroom ragu, anyone?
Highly recommended, and it should join the 2021 $10 Hall of Fame in January, as well as make the short list for 2021 Cheap Wine of the Year.
The La Quercia ($12, sample, 13%) continues the trend. It ?s a red wine that ?s simple and cheap, but this is not damning with faint praise. Yes, it won’t win any big-time awards, and I don’t know that I would give it more than a high bronze in a wine competition. But not every wine needs to be flashy. Sometimes, as I learned this summer during the $3 wine tasteoff, that ?s exactly what you don ?t need.
This is an intense wine, without much fruit and very Italian in style, earthy and savory. And anyone who likes California grocery store merlot will probably wonder why I ?m so enthusiastic about it. But on a Friday night, after a long week, drinking it with home-made pizza with sausage and mushrooms, it was just what I needed. What more can a wine offer?
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.