reviews, recommendations, recipes, and The Bar Project

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2002 Riserva)

Posted by dave


I love a wine that works well in all kinds of situations. I love a wine that you pick up because of a cool label and it ends up being a great find. And I love a wine that comes with a piece of wood tied to the bottle. That last part really makes all the difference.

So we’ve been on a bit of an Italian wine binge recently. The Davinci Chianti, and the Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico are two we’ve reviewed and really enjoyed. On a whim, we picked up a really neat looking 2002 Cantina Zaccagnini il vino “dal tralcetto” montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva. (Gotta love all those Italian words. Cantina means “Wine Cellar”. Our Italian is staggeringly mediocre, and we’re happy to help with the translation.) It’s called a “Red Dry Wine”, and it’s really good.

“Really good.” Yeah, ok, it’s late tonight and I’m a bit too tired to think of good metaphors and thesaurus thingies… ya know… words…

Point is, this wine is both cool in show and super tasty. I expected it to be really strong based on the initial smell, or “nose” as it were. It caught me off guard by the degree of fragrance, and I almost expected the wine to be equally as strong. That would have meant that it wouldn’t have been as universally appreciated. However, the flavor was something else all together.

It does come on a touch strong on first sip, but it almost instantly cools off. It’s certainly dry, but it’s rosy and soft and almost a touch sweet. It has a hint of a woody flavor (perhaps the reason for the twig attached to the front of the bottle) and that just adds to the understated complexity of the wine.

This is a short review – I’m otherwise engaged in enjoying this wine. You will too, if you pick up a bottle. It goes well with dinner (especially a pasta in a red cream sauce), works well with snacks (great with a sharp cheddar – or even better, a sharp Italian cheese, like a pecorino romano) or is even spectacular on its own.

And despite the accolades thus far, here’s the best part – $14 a bottle. Beat that.


Posted in Italian, Red Wine


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  1. Chad said:

    How about the SAME wine for only $12.63 (@ Sam’s Club)? ;) I’m having it, tonight, with pizza…

  2. Bill Kiefer said:

    I want to buy a case of wine and never had the experience doing it this way, I have two questions:
    — The chance of breaking during shipping
    — Spoiled bottles

  3. dave said:

    @Chad: Yeah, ok, you found a better price ;)

    @Bill: Not sure, because we can’t get delivered cases in PA (and it’s difficult in NJ). Rather I just hit the local shop and pick up a case there. The discount usually pays for one of the included bottles of wine.

    As for spoiled bottles, I have two suggestions. First would be start finding wines you like that come with foam corks. They have almost no chance of letting air in. Corks are an old technology, and there’s a reason that my grandfather used to drip wax all over his corks for his homemade wine – air could get in and spoil the bottle. Second, look for tell-tale signs. If it’s a bottle of red, look for red stains on the outside of the cork that indicate mild leakage. But you have just as much chance of getting a spoiled bottle in a case as you do buying one individually.

  4. Jim said:

    We had a bottle of this last night – it wasn’t the Reserva, but it was a 2003.

    It was great – the only negative was that the cork was super dry and fell apart getting a little cork in the bottle.

    But it was delicious wine with salmon burgers. Just had to strain it.

  5. dave said:

    @Jim – yeah, I’d really be a fan of all wines going to foam corks. They don’t crumble, have almost 0% failure… But I don’t want a screw top, that’s for sure!!

  6. darren hodgson said:

    Had a 2003 in Bologna (work visit), recommended by the waiter in a decent restaurant. It was about 20 euro’s I think, compared to some others on the wine list at 3-4 times more expensive, so good call by the guy. It was very good, so when I came home I ordered a case on line for about £20 a bottle. After reading this I now want to try the 2002 Reserva!

  7. Lagia said:

    Love the advice. Thank you.

  8. Martha said:

    Soy nieta de María Zaccagnini,quien nacio en Macerata y vino a Buenos Aires,Argentina junto a sus padres y hermanos. Viajaremos a Italia con mi esposo en Abril del 2010 a conocer el pueblo de mis nonos.Me haría muy feliz encontrarme con mi raíz familiar. Estoy tratando de ubicarlos, se que quedaron primos de mi abuela en su pueblo.
    Espero tu respuesta.

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  47. John said:

    When did you drink the 2002. Due it our older age we haven’t been drinking much wine but I just found a 2004 reserva red table wine and wonder if it will be vinegar.

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