Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finding Félsina

Each year I look forward to the new releases from Felsina, which is a winery located in the southeastern tip of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico appellation. My love for their wines started very early in my wine-drinking life. It started with a pristine bottle of the 1990 Felsina Vin Santo, which was pulled out at the last moment following an aged Sangiovese tasting. The Vin Santo wiped my memory clean of every wine I had tasted that night, and it was all I could think of.

That tasting was the catalyst for my exploration into the wines of Felsina. I soon came to realize that this producer of Chianti Classico, Vin Santo, cabernet sauvignon and olive oil was a step above the rest in almost every aspect, and the wines continue to provide an excellent quality-to-price ratio, with their entry level Chianti Classico Riserva at $25.

I would also find it very difficult to name you another $35 Chianti Classic Risvera which would stand the test of time and age as gracefully as the Rancia Riserva. And it would be just has hard to name you a $45 Super Tuscan with the level of depth, elegance and Sangiovese character, as the Fontalloro. In fact, all of the Felsina Chianti are 100% Sangiovese and make an interesting case for its ability to age and please as a single varietal wine.

When you consider that these are two of the top shelf wines, it paints a pretty good picture of what Felsina is capable of. In the 2008 vintage, where much of Tuscany turned out easy-drinking, yet enjoyable, Chianti Classico, Felsina continued to deliver the goods and produced an excellent set of wines that will stand the test of time.

On to the notes:

2009 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico – The nose showed dusty red fruits, herbs and dry cocoa. On the palate, it was silky smooth yet mouthwatering with ripe red berries, cedar and herbs. The finish showed drying tannins and begged for a year or two in the cellar. (89 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

Each of the Riserva bottlings deserve special attention. These are both 100% Sangiovese from some of the best fruit that Felsina has to offer. Both will provide many years of enjoyment, but Rancia, in particular, shows best after 8 – 10 years in the cellar.

2008 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva – The nose showed dusty cherries and undergrowth. On the palate, it was lean yet focused and structured with pure red fruits. The finish showed sour berries and drying structure. This wine simply needed more time and should show beautifully with two or three years in the cellar. (89 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

2008 Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Rancia Riserva – The ’08 Rancia was unexpectedly open at this young age. The nose showed red berries, cocoa powder and deep floral notes. On the palate, it was open and juicy with red berry fruits. The finish showed more of the structure I was expecting. This is a fine example of Rancia that, in this year’s case, is more open in its youth than the Fontalloro. (93 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

Felsina’s Fontalloro, also 100% Sangiovese, hails from a vineyard adjacent to the Chianti Classico appellation. Because of this, it is labeled as a Super Tuscan (or IGT wine). The Fontalloro tends to be the ying to the Ranica’s yang. It’s an elegant and rich wine that usually drinks better younger.

2008 Fattoria di Felsina Fontalloro – The ’08 Fontalloro showed ripe cherry, dark chocolate and herbs on the nose. On the palate it, was wrapped up tight, showing focused sour berry, herbs and youthful tannins that coated the mouth through the finish. (91 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

Felsina’s Maestro Raro is a mono-varietal Cabernat Sauvignon from a vineyard adjacent to Rancia. It’s a beautiful Cabernet with true Tuscan character. It’s not the easiest wine to find, but it's certainly worth the search.

2008 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Maestro Raro Toscana IGT - On the nose, I found bright strawberry, floral perfume, cedar box and dark chocolate. On the palate, it was juicy with dark fruits, herbs and bell pepper. The finish was clean with drying tannins. It’s a pure expression of Cabernet that deserves more attention. (90 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

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