If there’s such a thing as a near-perfect, inexpensive red wine for Italian-inspired meals, this may well be it.
Villa Malacari’s 2017 Rosso Conero is a wine you’ll find yourself going back to again and again — a wine for pizza, tomato-based and other pasta recipes, hearty pork dishes, and even steak.
The wine is from the lesser-known Marche region east of Tuscany and Umbria on the Adriatic Sea. Here, Rosso Conero is the top red-wine denomination and is far smaller than the more familiar Rosso Piceno DOC to the south.
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The wines are from the Montepulciano grape, not to be confused with the Montepulciano region in the heart of Tuscany, where Sangiovese is the dominant variety. The Montepulciano grape produces inky wines with flavors of dark berry fruit and that coat the tongue in purple.
Malacari’s $17 2017 Rosso Conero is firmly tannic, but not overly so; that structure and its deep and delicious fruit give the wine dimension and make it a pleasure to drink.
Flavors of blackberry, black currant, and blueberry are infused with notes of meat and cedar (the wine receives 12 months of barrel aging), and there’s a hint of vanilla in the equation.
The Montepulciano grape is best known for its leading role in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the familiar DOC from the Abruzzo region just south of the Marche that churns out oceans of budget wine.
Malacari’s Rosso Conero elevates the grape to another level that’s worth the few dollars more that you’ll pay. The Malacari family, whose roots in the Marche go back 500 years, operates one of the oldest, continuously running wineries in the region. It’s no surprise that its Villa Malacari Rosso Conero is a benchmark.