With its soft rolling poggios (small hills), silvery olive groves, implausibly green vineyards and ancient-cypress-tree-bordered driveways, it's impossible not to fall in love with Tuscany. And its wines aren't bad either. Tuscany, in central Italy, is home to the sangiovese grape, a food-friendly variety that consistently delivers tart cherry-fruit flavours. Due to its high acidity levels, sangiovese is one of the few red wines that really dances when served with tomatoes or tomato-based sauces. Most wines from Tuscany are classified as chianti, with chianti classico being a subset of chianti's finest wines. Due to this region's warm, sunny climate, vintage variation isn't as critical when selecting a chianti classico.
Badia a Coltibuono chianti classico DOCG 2007, Tuscany
A medium-bodied wine, with masses of sour cherry, dried cranberry and anise-accented fruit. Fine-grained mouth-coating tannins. Dried savoury herbs flirt with red licorice flavours on the finish. An excellent example of classic chianti produced in a contemporary style.
Available for HK$240 at Montrose Fine Wines (tel: 2555 8877)
Capannelle chianti classico riserva 2005
Concentrated cedar and spice. Dried cherry, juicy fresh black cherries, dessert herbs and licorice. Furry texture, flavourful and satisfying.
Available for HK$420 at Onereddot (tel: 2408 8320)
San Felice chianti classico riserva il grigio 2005
Old-fashioned chianti, with earthy farmyard notes. Granular tannins. The earthy aromas are likely to increase with time, ultimately suffocating the fruit. It's best to drink it now and, better yet, while staying at the historic Tuscan resort that is home to the winery.
Available for HK$218 at Castello del Vino (tel: 2866 0577)
Castello Di Ama chianti classico 2005
Perfumed cherry fruit, eerily pinot noir-like. Velvety texture and balanced acidity. Unobtrusive and pretty, this wine will fit in anywhere. I just wish this wallflower would stand up and knock my socks off.
Available for HK$399 at Berry Bros & Rudd (tel: 2110 1680)
Castello Banfi chianti classico riserva 2005
Muted, muddled cherry fruit. Firm and extracted tannins. Medium length. Would like to see more layered complexity.
Available for HK$245 at Essential Fine Wines (tel: 3679 3655)
Antinori Badia a Passignano chianti classico riserva DOCG 2005
Modern, intense, dark cherry fruit with a violet top note. Very extracted, showing some lovely aged development with its leathery hints. Very Italian with firm, tough tannins on the finish. A wine screaming to be eaten with ossobuco.
Available for HK$394 at Summergate Fine Wines (tel: 2545 4100)
Debra Meiburg is a master of wine