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Robin Garr

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A $5 Italian red in 2013! But will I like it?

by Robin Garr » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:13 pm

So I poked my head into Trader Joe's wine shop the other day and ... hello, what's this? A 2012 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo for a penny under five bucks?

Even in the land of Two Buck Chuck, this is a pretty good deal, but of course, "pretty good deal" explains in three words why I periodically run by our TJ's despite my general preferential option for the local shop.

I do love cheap Italian table reds. They and I go back a long, long way, and it has generally been a happy if occasionally rocky relationship. I've loved me some cheap Chianti - and some cheap Montepulciano, too - since I was barely legal. Okay, I wasn't legal, but close enough, and I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw this out there. Have any of you tasted Villa Cerrina 2012 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, from Trader Joe's or any other source? Will it be worth $4.99? I'm hoping that I'll actually like it ... and will return after dinner to let you know.
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Mark Lipton

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Re: A $5 Italian red in 2013! But will I like it?

by Mark Lipton » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:41 pm

At $4.99, what does it take for a wine to be "worth it"? I'm not trying to be snarky here, but just genuinely curious what your expectations are. At that price point, I'd be happy if the wine isn't obviously flawed or damaged. I wouldn't expect much in the way of varietal character or goût de terroir, but it might be a perfectly drinkable vino di tavola, something that washes down food and doesn't merit much attention. YMMV of course.

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Robin Garr

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Re: A $5 Italian red in 2013! But will I like it?

by Robin Garr » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:53 pm

Mark, I don't think you're being snarky, but to some extent you may be answering a question that I didn't ask. In my opinion, I would expect some very cheap wines to be flawed. A mass-market Central Valley jug wine, for instance, or a "pop" wine in the fizzy-blush style.

This one, though, proved to be a very honest Italian table wine, pretty good stuff! Light but balanced, acidic and food friendly; In my opinion definitely worth at least twice the $5 price, which puts it into the passable range for Italian table reds. I don't know what to expect in terms of shelf life, but it actually improved and took on better texture and a bit of a chocolatey thing going on. I might go back and grab a couple more.
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Oliver McCrum

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Re: A $5 Italian red in 2013! But will I like it?

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:01 pm

A Piedmontese enologist who does some work in the Abruzzo once told me that Montepulciano has the ability to be cropped at very high levels and still taste pretty decent. It's a much better cheap-wine grape than Sangiovese, for example. (And Montepulciano does sometimes magically end up in cheap Chianti, too.)
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Carl Eppig

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Re: A $5 Italian red in 2013! But will I like it?

by Carl Eppig » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:46 pm

Saw it in our TJs today for a penny under $6. There were also three other Italians at the same price, a Chianti, A Nero d-Avola, and another wine from Abruzzo. We went with our favorite $12 Ripasso.

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