This was a good, fairly classicly-styled Rosso Piceno, but it was a year or two past its prime.
General background to this lesser known Italian red: Rosso Piceno is the less distinguished, more common cousin of Rosso Conero. Both wines feature the intensely-flavored Montepulciano grape, but Rosso Conero is pure (or nearly so) Montepulciano, grown in the volcanic soil surrounding Monte Conero. Rosso Piceno is blended with substantial amounts of Sangiovese, and is grown is a more varied bunch of vineyard sites with more fertile, less volcanic soil. The result, generally speaking is that Conero is more intense and complex, and Piceno a bit lighter, with less depth and mineral complexity (and less ageing potential). Alas, however, producers in both regions are currently taken with the "international" style of winemaking (meaning stainless steel fermenters and ageing in brand new small French oak barrels), which tends to result in wines that have generic-tasting red fruit and scents of toasty oak. In other words, it tastes decent but you have a hard time distinguishing it from decent reds made anywhere else in the world. To my taste, the old school methods (fermenting in large wooden or concrete vessels and ageing in very large oak vats) tended to let the inherent qualities of the grapes and soil shine through much more. But it's getting harder and harder to find any of the traditionally made Marche reds in the U.S.
Back to the wine: Dark brickish ruby color. Mature, reasonably complex nose of smoked sandstone and dry twigs overshadows some dark, brandy-macerated cherry fruit. Inky but not heavy flavors of graphite and dark, low-toned plummy/blackberry fruit, along with gravelly notes. Soft texture and full-bodied, but with a relatively light mouthfeel. Those who like mature, rather than youthful, wines will like this more than I did. I would drink this up before next spring. B. Imported by Empson USA, I got this for $19.95 at Houston Wine Merchant.