Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ("mohn-tay-pool-chee-AHN-oh duh-BROOTZ-oh) translates to the native red Montepulciano grape from the largely mountainous Italian region of Abruzzo that is east of Rome and abuts the Adriatic in the center of the country. Both the mountains and sea give the wines its often unique character. From Burton Anderson's The Wines of Italy these are generally, "full-bodied, even robust, with a capacity to age but with a supple smoothness that can make it eminently drinkable even when young." These wines have gotten much better in the past couple of decades, especially at the higher price points. These are the ones that Selvaggio really likes. But, bargains still abound. Eric Asimov in The New York Times had an informative piece some years ago, "For Wine Lovers on a Budget, Try Montepulciano d'Abruzzo."
The better Montepulciano’s from Masciarelli, from the Marina Cvetic and Villa Gemma, provide something a little different, even for those familiar with Italian wines – a leanness to the wines, a lean structure. Still deeply rub red colored, but the rusticity, maybe the most noticeable facet of the inexpensive versions of Montepulciano, is not much in evidence in these. There are still noticeable tannins, but are firm and smooth, but the nose in each is noticeable, exuberant for the Villa Gemma Rosso Riserva 2017. The wines are smooth and flavorful. Delicious, especially, with the Villa Gemma, which retails for around $80. The Marina Cvetic sells for roughly $30.
To note, it's not related to the similarly named Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Tuscany. That is made with a clone of Sangiovese. These can also be very fine wines, too, and a wine label with even more syllables.