Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2005 Fèlsina Berardenga Rancia

I was lucky enough to taste the 2005 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia at the same Italian wine event where I tasted the De Forville Loreto. Fèlsina is often considered one of the top estates in Chianti, but they stand apart from the crowd particularly as they grow sangiovese — and nothing else. No cabernet, no merlot, no nothin' but sangiovese. And they grow it organically.

Fèlsina bottles a standard Chianti Classico, a Riserva, and this top-of-the-line Rancia, a word that corresponds to "estate" or "ranch" and not "rancid" (whew!). The Polaner web site explains that the grapes for this wine come from vines at least 50 years old and that Fèlsina protects their vineyard's integrity when replanting by using only old “massale” selections from their top old vineyards. So the estate's future would seem to be sound.

It's the present that has my attention right now, though, and so to the wine.

Two false alarms sound first, for the Rancia is rather darker than I'd expect from a traditionally-made Chianti Classico Riserva and the vanillin on the nose says "barrique." Yet the wine is neither adulterated nor overoaked, and with significant air, I find it transparent and gorgeous. First, I get a snootful of violets. Perfect. Moving to the palate, the sweet cherry fruit on the attack demonstrates beautiful lift; the flavors then resolve into really nice citric bitterness, with dusty red earth, serious tannins, and a silky mouthfeel. The depth here is very impressive and the minerality comes through. Although it's already complex, I'd recommend waiting a good five years on the next bottle for additional complexity and tannin resolution.

But could I blame you for wanting to drink this now? Hardly! Just be sure to give it a healthy decant before you dive into it and a wild boar ragu.

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