Chianti’s Comeback


Castello di Gabbiano 2007 Chianti – $14

September means heritage tomatoes on virtually every city menu; choosing wines to go with their earthy mix of sweetness and acidity can be a challenge. For a salad, perhaps with mozzarella or goat cheese, Pinot Grigio or the more assertive Sauvignon Blanc delivers the goods. But cooked tomatoes require a simple red. Basic Chianti, once horribly thin and sour, is now often delicious. The 2007 from Australian-owned Castello di Gabbiano, for instance, has all the typical barnyard and mushroom flavours of Chianti with fresh cherry fruit and a pleasantly bitter finish.



Carpineto 2006 Chianti Classico – $24

Moving up a notch—and $10—gets you Chianti Classico, a variety grown in the hills between Florence and Siena. What you get for a little more money is more richness, more depth, and more structure. 2006 was an excellent vintage, and the dark garnet Carpineto, 90 percent Sangiovese and the rest Canaiolo, has a bold, round fruitiness, a savoury, pruny nose, and a spicy baked-fruit-and-cherry finish. Don’t drink it by itself; unlike the Gabbiano, it has a sharp dose of tangy acidity that needs food. It’s a lovely accompaniment to  a fresh tomato sauce made from
the glut in the garden.


RED & WHITE: Bill Hardy, Hardys Wine Company

Bill Hardy’s great-great-grandfather Thomas arrived in South Australia in 1850 with £20, and quickly built up the biggest wine business in the colony. Hardy himself, lately in association with Constellation Brands, has since made the company the No. 2 wine brand in the world. He was in Vancouver recently to pour the entire range (from the terrific-value $10 Stamp of Australia Riesling Gewurztraminer to the iconic Eileen Hardy Chardonnay and Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon) as well as to show off the new, single-serving Shuttle—a bottle-and-glass combo where the glass doubles as the bottle’s screw cap. Hardy convincingly demonstrated that his wines are a happy exception to “the rule that big generally isn’t beautiful.”