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The wine is at least a couple of rungs up the ladder from straw bottle Chianti and it's often pretty good. It is inexpensive and ubiquitous. You're likely to find it on the menu in most Italian restaurants in the western US, often by the glass.
It's been a while since TWC has partaken and I was surprised that the 2006 turned out to be a better wine than I remembered Gabbiano to be.
Sangiovese (San Jo Vay Say)* is the prominent grape in Tuscany and is the primary grape used in all Chianti. Classico is one of eight different producing areas within Chianti. The term doesn't refer to the 'classic' quality of the wine.
The hot, dry climate, such as Tuscany provides, is where sangiovese thrives. Because these climatic criteria generally enhance quantity, rather than quality, it takes careful cultivation and winemaking techniques to produce really excellent wine from this grape. The official classification of Chianti itself demonstrates the widely fluctuating range of Sangiovese quality from those identified as ordinaryvino di tavola to the highest classico superiore. Sangiovese is the #1 varietal in Italy with 247,000 acres, 10% of the entire wine grape crop.
Sometime back, before DebX2 and J.R. split, they brought some Chianti back from Italy. It was spectacular and fueled the ongoing rumor (in my mind) that the Italians do not export the best they make. Sat up at their bar with a legal pad and a sharp pencil, a plate of homemade pizza, and that wine. Pretty sure the tax refund that year was spectacular as well.
People sometimes ask if TWC drinks wine while preparing tax returns. I invariably respond: How big was your refund?
Sidebar: I don't know if they've really been making Chianti at the estate for a thousand years, but the castle is old. So is the knight that graces Gabbiano's label.
* I say it's San Gee Oh Vay See (or Say). Even though I was Italian in another life I'm not sure that is correct.