I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Chianti. Actually not just Chianti, but most red Italian wines.

I love the taste characteristics of the Sangiovese grape – the black currant, dark fruit, and a certain earthiness and acidity! But it seems like most of the under $15 Chianti is not well made. I find one good Chianti for every four or five so-so or awful ones.

I have used space here and ink on newsprint in my newspaper column to frequently knock “supermarket” wines. For years I had avoided Ruffino Chianti. If its sold in supermarkets, it can’t be very good – right?

And geeeeez, it used to have that cheesy basket thing on the bottle!

Well, (ever so humble) – I was wrong. I recently received a shipment of samples from Ruffino and tonight opened the first one. This was Ruffino’s basic Chianti. It’s a $9 bottle of Italian wine.

You know what? It was pretty good! It’s a lighter flavored Chianti, for sure, but it was balanced and clearly a well-made wine. The 2008 is 75 percent Sangiovese with some Canaiolo and Colorino blended in. It has a light nose with a hint of spice.

It’s not a big wine. But it is a perfect wine for your pasta dishes and perfect for anyone that stays away from really big-flavored red wines.

Common sense has to tell you – or me – that if a wine has been around forever (like 100 years in Ruffino’s case) … if a wine is found in lots of supermarkets, that someone must be buying it. The wine must be palatable. Well, this wine was far better than palatable. I’d serve it to guests. This bottle was sent to me for review, I’d buy this Chianti in a minute.

It’s always rewarding to be surprised. I never mind being wrong about something when I find a wine that’s this enjoyable for $9.

I looked around YouTube for something on Ruffino. I found an old promotional video in Italian. But then I found this nice video about Italy and Tuscany from Ruffino. There are slides from Florence and the Chianti region. It’s beautiful!

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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