2017 Felsina Castelnuovo Berardenga, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
In the rolling hills, not far from Siena, just to the to the southwest sits Castelnuovo Berardenga, one of Chianti Classico’s most unique zones that for thousands of years was known for the quality of olive oils more than wine until wineries like Felsina turned this area into one of the best sites for Sangiovese in all of Italy, and even their most basic version, this Chianti Classico white label, is a prized and stylish effort. I have long been a huge fan of this winery, with the mid-nineties wines first attracting to this iconic label and their 1997 Fontalloro cementing my love my love for both Felsina and pure Sangiovese, it was a wine that could easily convince you that Chianti Classico was the equal of any region of the world, comfortable in the presence of top Bordeaux and or classic Rioja. This 2017 is less dense and concentrated than the fabulous 2016s from Felsina, but it really drinks well as a young wine and it has beautiful purity and graceful textural mouth feel with a bright Sangiovese personality, all of which make up for what it lacks in power and it is sublime with food, as you’d expect from this grape and Felsina. This Chianti Classico starts with dark berries, crushed flowers, minty herb and sandalwood before entertaining the medium bodied palate with a core of fruit that includes smoothly layered brambly raspberry, plum, black cherry and strawberry preserves along with a touch of Asian spice, cedar, anise, pipe tobacco and a hint of racy blood orange. The freshness of detail and natural acidity almost beg’s you to enjoy this Chianti with a rustic country meal and or with some nice pecorino cheese.

The classic Berardenga white label Felsina Chianti Classico comes from vineyards, as the winery notes, that are all located in the Castelnuovo Berardenga commune, in the southeastern part of the Chianti Classico appellation, as noted, to the southeast of Siena. Almost without exception, these vines are exclusively with a southwestern exposure, that delivers full ripeness, they sprawl across hilly slopes at an altitude ranging from 320-420 meters above sea level that allows a night time chill even in the heat of Summer, making for balanced and expressive Sangiovese. Geologically, again as the winery adds, these vineyards have distinct and individual underpinnings with an array of soils, with the higher parts seeing predominantly quartz and calcareous alberese mixed with alluvial pebbles as well as strataform sandstone and loams that add to the overall quality and complexity in Felsina’s lineup. The vines are mostly all Sangiovese, but Felsina also has tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon which they bottle separately and does not go into their Chianti Classico offerings, which are all varietally pure Sangiovese, like this 100% Sangiovese, but it should be noted too, that Felsina has multiple clones of Sangiovese from which they have to work with. The 2017 Chianti Classico was fermented and macerated in stainless steel tanks for almost two weeks with pneumatic (programmed) punchdowns and daily pump-overs. Once primary fermentation was complete the wine went into medium-size Slavonian oak barrels, and a small percentage into twice and thrice used oak barrels for 12 months of elevage, after which the final blend was chosen, or put together, and then bottled. The white label Felsina Chianti Classico is always a well crafted wine and a great value giving a big bang for the buck, as this 2017 version shows!
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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