Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia was the wine picked out last night in an attempt to banish the bitter memories of that shocking Villa Caffagio effort from the weekend and reaffirm my faith in Chianti. I picked up the Villa Caffagio believing it would represent Italy well in the Tesco challenge only to see it come out as the worst value wine of the bunch. So it was down to the Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva 2005 to reinstall the good name of Chianti Classico and prove the value to be had in this DOCG.
Felsina is a legendary producer in Chianti with both fair prices and an excellent product line. Alive and kicking since the 12th century, its only in the last few decades that Felsina went from also ran Tuscan producer to the top name in Chianti. This radical transformation can be credited in part to top Italian oenologist Franco Bernabei whose wines rarely fall short of outstanding. Felsina produce the very best of contemporary Chianti Classico and are considered the reference point for quality in the area. Felsina are in the southern part of Chianti, closer to Brunello, the wines are both powerful and earthy.
Last night I tried the Riserva Rancha, which in 2004 took an outstanding 95 point Parker score. The 2005 isn't too shabby either; among the very best Chianti Classico wines of the vintage, possibly the best. At €23 it's hard to think of what other #1 producer in any AC or DOC can match that kind of value, let alone a DOCG as famous as Chianti Classico. Even the 95 Point 2004 effort can still be found for under €30.
There has been a Fattoria di Felsina since the 12th century. The estate is skipping distance from Siena itself and a perfect estate to visit when touring Tuscany. Felsina produce a cheaper Chianti Classico bottling which is also outstanding but its with the Riserva Rancia that the real quality of the wine making shines through. The grapes grow in albarese and galestro soils (shale, lime and clay) and undergo a temperature controlled fermentation before seeing 12-18 months in small barrels followed by 6 months of bottle age before release.
Fattoria di Felsina also produce a very good Cabernet Sauvignon, the Maestro Raro, a famous and lauded 100% Sangiovese IGT Fontalloro (which can rival the Rancia in terms of quality), a top Tuscan Vin Santo and a blended white I Sistri, a Chardonnay with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc. All of Felsinas wines are fairly priced much to the chagrin of many other Tuscan producers.
Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2005 - BUY - €22.50
A darker than normal deep ruby red. Takes a few moments to come alive on the nose but once it does the aromas are a beautiful, fresh and lively mix of sweet cherries, toasted oak and a floral component in the background. On the palate the wine is still heavily tannic. The initial attack is very impressive, fresh yet concentrated with lots of luscious dark fruits and once more with feeling for the cherries. Fruit continues through the mid palate to a long, earthy finish. A powerful, full bodied wine that still needs a few years to relax. 93 Points
This is the kind of wine you want to be filling your cellars with (or in my case, cupboards) for short to mid term drinking. I can see this going wonderfully well with all kind of Italian fayre, meats and cheeses as well as being perfect for drinking alone. I'm not sure I can point to many more Italian wines that are better value, age worthy and simply delicious as well as terroir expressive and a great accompaniment for a range of foods. Even if you're not used to laying down the big bucks on wine, this will be the best £20 you spent on wine.
I don't think there's any need to continue this blog is there. We found it! *rings the bell* I'm off home.
Where can I buy this wine?
Americans - Napa Cabs - $29.95
Europeans - Italian Wine Selection - €22.50
Brits - Fine and Rare - £21
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Buy this wine. Tell me what you thought. If you're already a convert, how much does this wine rock the casbah? When buying a wine, what is it you really want to see? Value for money? Fruit? High alcohol? (I know someone who buys wine based on the ABV!)