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Sale $12.90, Regular
Discount (until Sept. 14): $1.50
LCBO # 269985 | 750 mL bottle
Tastes like: Sultry super-ripe black berries and sweet vanilla.
Pairs with: Rib eye, leg of lamb, Philly cheese steak, veal chop in mushroom sauce, meat-lover’s pizza.
Good for: Feasting, or watching the autumn leaves turn.
Drink this: Now - 2016.
Why we're drinking this
This is a DOC wine coming from the Abruzzo region just east of Rome and tucked under Marche and Umbria. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which basically means the wine’s provenance is guaranteed. Though the Abruzzo region is one of Italy’s largest “wine lakes”—that is, a plonk factory—some fine producers are making very good and very well-priced Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC wines.
There are so many cues that indicate this is a good wine. Some of these are our purely subjective takes. For one, it’s got a screw cap. We love screw caps. Easy to use, and locks in freshness, just like a Glad bag. Of course, there’s a lot of dreck under cap too, so you do have to be careful. This wine also has one of those little round stickers you see on many wines, touting a win at some obscure competition or another. Many of them are pretty much meaningless and some are suspect. But this one boasts a ranking with Italy’s prestigious Gambero Rosso, which the Italians take very, very seriously. It’s like the Oscars of wine in Italy. Finally, we’ve got one more reason to like this wine: the name. It’s just fun to say, “I’ll have the Illuminati.”
The grape is Montepulciano, and it produces berry-driven, ripe, often tannic, full-bodied wines. This one is big on black and blue fruit and black cherries, almost kirsch-like in richness. There’s some prominent cedar on the nose, almost a twiggy quality, that adds a really nice rustic-earthy note. But there’s refinement too—a hint of sweet vanilla and warm spice coming from its year in oak. This is a rich-tasting wine, with a burnt-like quality that is not at all off-putting—it’s balanced by the fresh, ripe fruit, and merely adds some interest on the long finish. Enjoy this wine as the weather turns to chill. It’s eminently quaffable, and tremendous value at this price. Buy a bunch, and open a bottle every few months over the next year or two. It should evolve beautifully in the short term.
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This week's selection by kwäf Taste Bud Dick Snyder