Cheap Wines That Don't Suck: 2006 Falesco Vitiano Rosso
Umbria grows a lot of warm-climate grapes, so you might expect some flabby, low-acid wines from Italy's only landlocked region. But the influence of the Apennine Mountains ensures cool nighttime temps, which means more complex tannins (i.e., structure). Falesco Vitiano Rosso is a blend of Sangiovese (the main Chianti grape), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and it drinks like a $25 bottle -- but it's only $9.99 at The Wine Club in SOMA (953 Harrison at Fifth St.) -- and it's one of the few cheap wines from any country that Robert Parker himself deigned to review. In case you're wondering, he gave it an 88. We like it too, for its spicy nose, its pretty red-fruit flavors, and its easy-on-the-oak palatability.