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gabbiano chianti 14Two comparably priced, entry-level wines from Chianti by major producers, both with deep roots in the winemaking history of Tuscany. Is one clearly superior?

The Gabbiano is classic Sangiovese showing prominent sour cherry and baked earth aromas with flinty undertones. It’s soft and supple on the palate, a little thin, but the finish is persistent with good acidity and pleasant tannins. The Ruffino is a slightly bigger wine although both are medium bodied. It is darker in color and showing more berry notes than the Gabbiano, rounder and with a bit more weight on the palate. But the Ruffino has green, twiggy notes that are distracting and the finish is tart and rustic with grainy tannins.

Both are simple wines without much depth or complexity designed for everyday consumption.ruffino chianti

It really comes down to personal preference. The Ruffino, 70% Sangiovese with the rest a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, has a bit more weight and structure but that intensity is not always pleasant. The Gabbiano, 90% Sangiovese with small percentages of Colorino and Canaiolo, is softer and more amiable with more complexity on the nose and fewer distracting elements.

Both will wash down a pizza but for sipping I prefer the quiet subtleties of the Gabbiano.

Gabbiano:

Score: 84

Price: $7

Alc: 12%

Ruffino:

Score: 83

Price: $9

Alc: 12.5%

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