The everyday Montepulciano we pour at both Nomad Pizzas in Philladelphia is by far our most popular by the glass pour. Yes we have a decent Cab (yawn) and a Pinot Noir (very good but with pizza?). We also have a Malbec (a fave of the customers but not me) and a Nero d'Avola (I like this too). The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Masciarelli outsells the others by about 2 to 1 easy. And why not? It's got complex aromatics, good fruit and some terroir to boot - and it goes great with Tom and Stalin's true to type Italian Pizza.
There are a lot of Montepulcianos out there on the retail market but there aren't a lot of great ones in the everyday category. I'm talking $9.99 per bottle, my kind of Tuesday night wine. In my home state of New Jersey we have a ton of choices in every price range, but in Pennsylvania, not so much. The biggest problem is that restaurants in Pennsylvania have to buy from the state at full retail. It's quite a challenge trying to find quality product to pour by the glass that you can make some money off of.
But I didn't start this post to bitch. I started it to turn you on to another great everyday red from the East coast of Italy. The Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno wowed me from first sniff to last sip. Rosso Piceno is the largest of the DOCs in the Marche, just north of Abruzzo. Unlike the Masciarelli, which is 100% Montepulciano, this beauty is only 20% Montepulciano and 80% Sangiovese. It's made with organic grapes and spends a short 4 months in French oak prior to bottling. Medium ruby in color, it's got beautiful soil driven aromatics that feature a distinct mineral quality, bright smoky cherry fruit, licorice and leather. In the mouth, there's excellent acidity, with the cherry fruit shining brightly on the medium bodied palate with mineral and brown spice notes on the back end. It finishes long with some drying tannins. Imported by Michelangelo Imports, this is a fantastic $9.99 everyday red. Bottoms up!