Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 $48

What’s the Deal?

For starters, there is no such thing as a BBQ wine, given that you can literally place anything on the BBQ: a steak, a chicken breast, a Lego portrait of Boba Fett. And weirdly, whenever writers talk about a “BBQ wine,” they almost always choose some big, hulking red like Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. But not only does that assume only slabs of red meat ever hit a BBQ, but that the ideal pairing for such richness is more richness. Erroneous! What you need is a wine with high acidity to combat said richness. Think The Mountain vs. The Viper (until, you know, the end). And a wine that still delivers subtle but clean fruit so it won’t overwhelm even grilled leeks. What wine am I speaking about is Chianti, of course, the reigning champ of versatility.

What’s in the Bottle?

One of the great things about Chianti, as opposed to its Sangiovese brother Brunello for example, is that you can go to the top of the food chain without too much financial pain. Take this bottle by Castello di Monsanto. It’s made by one of the most renowned wineries in Tuscany in possession of arguably some of the best vineyards in all of Tuscany, it has 24 months of aging before release (the 2017 is the current year on sale), and my lord it’s tasty: juicy, clear pure cherry and savoury notes and just enough tannins to show its seriousness. And all for under $50 (under $40 sometimes, in Alberta). I can’t tell you how my eyes would light up if someone brought this to my house for a BBQ.

Should I Buy?

Ok, I’ll let you on in a little secret. The Christmas before last I was at the BC Liquor store at Ackroyd in Richmond (which, along with the Dunbar store, always seem to have a lot of large format bottles). I was shopping for others when I saw it€”a 3 litre double magnum of this exact wine, but the 2010 vintage (the current release is here). Guess who got themselves an early Christmas present? So yeah, I think you should buy, but if you don’t feel like spending this much you can find Monsanto Monrosso Chianti for around $30, and it’s also a winner.