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Falesco, Vitiano, Rosso, Umbria, 2007, $11.99

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We were first introduced to the Falesco “Vitiano” when we opened the wine shop two and a half years ago. Then, as now, it was a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot. Then, unlike now, it was $9.99 and frequently went on sale for $8.99. It was a steal then, and it is still a great value despite last year’s descent of the dollar that resulted in nearly across-the-board price increases for Italian wines. This remains a go-to wine; for everyday drinking, put this in your repertoire, along with Kermit Lynch’s Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue, “Tradition,” the Berger Gruner-Veltliner (out of stock at our distributor).

Ridiculously dark black-ruby color. Pretty aromas of cassis, black plum and earth, with a pronounced vanilla presence that does not overpower the fruit. Rich and densely packed, with distinctly ripe flavors of black fruits, raisin and chocolate lifted by an intriguing balsamic vinegar note. This finishes lighter than it starts, with welcome acidity nicely delineating the borderline-overripe fruit. Finishes creamy and long. This is a lot of wine for the money, and the best Vitiano in years, far removed from some astringent versions of recent memory.