2016 Fattoria di Fèlsina, Fontalloro IGT Rosso, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tuscany, Italy.
The wines of Fèlsina have always moved me and I find them as compelling as Bordeaux and or Burgundy, the Castelnuovo Berardenga based estate in the southeastern most Chianti Classico zone has long been one of the great names in Tuscany. Their Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is one of the most prized and cellar worthy in the region, it rivals many a top Brunello, and Fèlsina also produces one of the most iconic of all Sangiovese wines, the Fontalloro, which is labeled as a simple IGT Rosso, or Vino di Tavola, much the same way as Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte is, another pure and outstanding Sangiovese wine. Felsina were early foregoers of blending in the other local varietals and especially the white grapes that were so commonly added, instead really focusing on the Sangiovese and only making their Chianti lineup with the single varietal, and they have never been temped to add Merlot and or Cabernet Sauvignon, which has become legal and is widely used in the final blends, even though they do have a single site Cabernet Sauvignon on the estate, preferring the absolute purity of the transmission that their Sangiovese delivers. The Fontalloro, especially this powerful, concentrated and complex 2016 version, performs with a sense of elegance that is hard to describe in written words, it is a wine that needs to be experienced to understand its profound impact on the senses and the palate, it reminds me of Chateau Margaux in that way, it is not as showy as some of its contemporaries, but unforgettable, beautiful, and almost without a fault. I really, really am impressed with this 2016 edition, tasted at this year’s Slow Wine, of Fontalloro, it is one of the best I’ve tried from Felsina since the majestic 1997 and is everything you’d ask for in such a wine, and while not a cheap bottle, it is one of the wine world’s sublime values, honestly there are 100’s of boring and generic wines that sell for twice the price.
The ripe and structured year gave all the best elements to this Fontalloro to be one of the legends and the Felsina team didn’t disappoint, making a wine for the ages and while exceptional even now, like I always say, a great wine is a great wine regardless when you open the bottle, this one will be one that will be a certain treasured time capsule wine that should be incredibly long lived, going two or three decades with ease. The layers unfold with gorgeous life and dimension with a firm, but welcome tannic force that holds back the massive fruit and shows the wine’s terrific poise in the glass with classic Sangiovese details including blackberry, plum, cherry and strawberry fruits, a light sense of French oak, delicate florals, minty herb, sweet and spicy tobacco, a trace of sandalwood, balsamic notes, mineral and well judged acidity that lifts this full bodied wine and keeps things in near perfect check. The Fontalloro, 100% Sangiovese, coming from old vines in three top vineyards, Poggio al Sole vineyard, within Chianti Classico, and the Casalino and Arcidossino vineyards, within the Chianti Colli Senesi, they straddle the border between “Classico” and “Colli Senesi” at almost 400 meters of elevation that has a good high to low temp range that promotes quality and complexity. This area, which is known for its unique profile and terroir influence is set between forested areas and rolling hills of chalky soils that are calcareous in Chianti Classico and predominantly loamy and sandy in the Sensi. The vines, which are now farmed with biodynamic practices, according to the estate, are in excess of fifty years of age that gives the wine its mature and deep character, and the Fontalloro, which sees a traditional fermentation is then aged in small French oak barrels, plenty of which were new, for between fifteen to eighteen months prior to bottling, it is a serious wine and one of Italy’s absolute best.
($65 Est.) 98 Points, grapelive