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Four with veggie fare
When summer's bounty yields an overload of fresh, delicious vegetables from the garden, even the most ardent carnivore occasionally enjoys a meatless dinner ... and looks around for a wine to match. Now that our backyard garden is going into overdrive, we're often in that position; here's my report on four good wines that went well with recent meatless meals. (For a little more on this topic, see my article, "Wine and summer's veggie bounty" in this week's 30 Second Wine Advisor.)

San Fabiano Calcinaia San Fabiano Calcinaia 1997 Chianti Classico ($16.99)
Inky dark-garnet in color, this sturdy wine breathes ripe black cherries and a pleasant whiff of black coffee. Full, extracted black-fruit flavors are structured with tart acidity. Soft but perceptible tannic astringency suggests some aging time is warranted, but ripe fruit and perfect balance make it a treat today. Plums and sour cherries linger in a long finish. U.S. importer: Dufour & Co., North Bergen, N.J. (Aug. 5, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Chianti's tangy acidity makes it a natural with tomato dishes, from traditional red-sauced Southern Italian pastas to the light summery joy of caprese, fresh, juicy tomatoes topped with mozzarella and fresh basil. It's also a boon companion with pesto, the paste of fresh basil, garlic and olive oil that's a Genoese specialty.

Kim Crawford Kim Crawford 1999 Unoaked Marlborough (NZ) Chardonnay ($14.99)
This pale, straw-color wine offers fresh aromas of apples and lemons, with a delicate hint of peaches that grows as the wine warms in the glass. Crisp and fresh on the palate, it's not fat but full-bodied and dry, with flavors that follow the nose and remain tart and clean in a long finish. After too many oaky, woody Chardonnays, this variation that sees no wood is both a revelation and a delight. U.S. importer: Vintage New World Inc., Seattle (Aug. 6, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Makes a very fine match with a meatless summer dinner of thick eggplant slices drizzled with olive oil, grilled golden-brown, then topped with mild, herbal goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Sang des Cailloux Domaine le Sang des Cailloux 1998 Vacqueyras ($14.99)
Inky dark blackish-purple in color, this ripe, full-bodied red, a low-rent but delicious neighbor of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, continues to build the reputation of the 1998 vintage in the Southern Rhone. Ripe black-pepper and raspberry aromas lead into a big, chewy flavor, a bowl of red and black fruits that's full-bodied and appropriately tart. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: The big pepper and fruit flavors play up well against the tangy goat cheese in the grilled eggplant dinner detailed above.

Tamellini Tamellini 1998 Soave ($9.99)
Clear straw color, with a pleasant, forward scent of peaches and honey with a distinct grace note of damp wool. Full and tart flavors follow the nose; peaches and snappy, lemony acidity linger in the finish. U.S. importer: Vin Divino Limited, Chicago; a Marco de Grazia Selection. (Aug. 5, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Works very well with pesto over fettuccine tossed with a few fresh garden green beans and steamed fingerling potatoes.

Clock The Chianti was featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor, my free weekly E-mail bulletin of quick wine tips, advice and tasting notes. Click here to join the E-mail list!

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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