Tuscany’s native red grape sangiovese is the most widely planted in Italy by a mile. It is most famously associated with the Chianti region, where the tradition of blending sangiovese with other grapes began. Sangiovese’s wines are distinctively pale among reds and often quite tart and astringent. Early vintners learned to soften them by adding fruitier local grapes, including white grapes, to
the mix. But since the 1970s, most Tuscan vintners have aimed in the opposite direction, blending in darker, stronger French grapes and lowering crop yields to intensify flavor and increase quality. Of Chianti’s many subzones, the Classico district is the most consistently focused on making fine wines.
This affordable example from Gabbiano is roughly 90% sangiovese, boosted with small amounts of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and other local varieties.
It is lighter and drier than most California reds, with a food-friendly earthy undercurrent to its flavors of sour cherries and black tea.
Gabbiano Chianti Classico, $11.99 (regularly $13.99, sale price through May 28, 2017) PLCB Item #4440.