2016 Fèlsina – Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
One of the greatest vintages I’ve tasted of Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) labeled, Chianti Classico wines has to be the 2016, especially delicious is Fèlsina’s lineup with Rancia and Fontalloro being absolutely sublime to the point of being legendary, but certainly this black label Riserva is a do not miss for Sangiovese lovers. There’s a wealth of gems coming from the southern end of the Chianti Classico zone these days from Radda to Castelnuovo, almost on the outskirts of Siena, with Montesecondo, Montevertine, Castello di Ama, Le Miccine, Mazzei and others are notable for quality and Fèlsina, a winery that I’m a big fan of, just adds extra icing to that cake of elite producers that make this area home all with very distinct differences and terroir elements, with Fèlsina noted for being warm and rich on the palate. The 2016 black label Chianti Classico Riserva is wonderfully supple and densely packed with luxurious fruit and solid length, while retaining a fresh feel and balance with a range of flavors including blackberry, plum, black cherry, mulberry and currant fruits along with a subtle wave of mocha, minty herb, spicy cut tobacco leaf, dried flowers and cedar, adding an a touch of anise, leather and a lingering liqueur note. This bottling, while not surprising given Fèlsina’s record of quality, does raise an eyebrow for its value and purity of form in this price point, you’d most likely be happy with this wine’s performance at twice the asking price, I should have bought many more bottles! Time in the glass brings out more and more with a poised mineral element emerging along with pretty floral intensity adding class to the almost lavish nature of the fruit core, it is hard not to finish the bottle too quickly and patience is definitely rewarded.

The estate, in an area that was cherished during Roman times, was once the farm of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, back then Fèlsina was mostly known for its sense of peace and its olive groves, with, as the winery notes, just a few hectares dedicated to viticulture before the nineteenth century. The original wine cellar was small, but in the early 1900s had already begun bottling on site and Fèlsina’s slow and historic march toward greatness in Italian wine began, with the present generation of care takers here committed to holistic and sustainable farming and the Sangiovese grape, including preserving a selection old special clones of this classic Tuscan varietal. The rolling hills of Castelnuovo are covered with chalky, rocky calcareous soils, with primarily marl, a common characteristics in Chianti, along with layers of sandstone and clay, along with ancient marine sediments rich in minerals all facing the path of the sun that allows for ripe fruit, concentration and refined tannins, while retaining energy with natural acidity. This Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva was a special selection of top sites, carefully sorted with de-stemmed grapes that were fermented and macerated in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with gentle punchdowns and pump overs to ensure perfect extraction after which the wine was aged in a combination of large Slovenian oak casks and twice and three time filled French oak barriques for between 12 to 16 months before the final blend was assembled to taste in the cellar. This dark garnet and delicately perfume Chianti Classico Riserva matches robust cuisine and or aged Pecorino (hard) cheeses and gains an extra dimension with air, this is everything you’d want from a 100% Sangiovese!
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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