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Taste Fausto Maculan's beautifully crafted blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and you'll be forgiven for guessing it's a $50 wine. Not. Astonishingly, this suave Bordeaux-style blend is less than $20. This 2007 from the Veneto is intense and focused, the leaner Cabernet well integrated with the fleshier, more voluptuous Merlot. Complex flavors are driven by dark sweet fruit.
It's brilliant with roasts, braised or grilled meats. Personally, I like it with an arista or roast pork loin suffused with rosemary, sage and garlic.
The question is, why can't restaurants serve wine like this? Even with a normal markup, it would still be less than $30.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Region: Veneto, Italy
Price: About $18
Style: Rich and full bodied
What it goes with: Roasts, braised and grilled meats
Where to find it: Amazing Grapes Wine Store in Rancho Santa Margarita (888) 299-9463, www.amazing grapeswinestore.com; Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas (760) 479-2500, www.meritagewinemarket .com; Wine Exchange in Orange (714) 974-1454, www.winex.com; the Wine House in West L.A.(310) 479-3731, www.winehouse .com; and Wine on a Dime in Temecula (951) 694-3463, www.wineonadime.com