We don't always agree with the estimable Wine Spectator's ratings but it's amazing how often we do. We find the magazine to be a reliable guide, at the very least to wines worth trying. WS gave the 2008 Castello D'Albola Chianti Classico from Tuscany 90 points, and it deserves it. Look for it in the $13 to $15 range at big box stores and some wine shops.
The dominant grape is sangiovese, blended with 5 percent canaiolo, a Tuscan grape that once was the dominant partner in the Chianti blend but now is relegated mostly to a minor role. The wine's color is a deep garnet in the glass. Give it a swirl to release a lovely aroma of ripe black cherry and cassis. On the tongue expect plenty of fruit up front and not only cherry and cassis but also the black currants from which the creme de cassis liqueur is made. This is a bone dry red with well-developed round tannins. It finishes medium long with a hint of black tea at the end.
This Chianti will pair well with robustly flavored dishes from rich mushroom risotto or lasagna to a hearty ragu alla Bolognese to mature cheeses.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.