Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2006
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
If you were to cut proprietor Giuseppe Mazzocolin’s veins the man would bleed Sangiovese, such is his passion for Tuscany’s most important native grape. Mazzocolin has a terrific set of new releases on his hands. The 2006s are glorious and benefit from a warm growing season that also saw good alternation of day and evening temperatures before the grapes got a final kick of heat that informs the wines. In 2007, I have only tasted the Chianti Classico so far, but if that wine is indicative, Felsina could have another superb vintage in store for fans of this venerable property. So far 2007 looks to be a vintage of ripe wines made in a more generous, if early maturing style, than the firmer 2006s. Not only are Felsina’s wines magnificent, they also remain exceedingly fairly priced in relative terms. Mazzocolin deserves much credit and support from readers for his consumer-friendly approach, especially in these challenging times.
In the 17 published editions of Gambero Rosso, Italy’s acclaimed wine rating guide, this Tuscan estate has won the coveted Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award 17 times. They are a favorite of IWM, Robert Parker, and any Tuscan wine enthusiast. And they did it by revealing the true essence of the Sangiovese grape and the Chianti Classico terroir. What this tells us is that this is a winery of consistency, producing Chianti Classicos with the ability to age up to two decades for the right vintage. Much like the great Brunello estates, it is the marriage of an ideal microclimate and the uncompromising commitment of a dedicated staff that educes the full character of Tuscany's noble grape, even in off vintages. Even more importantly, this is a producer who creates compelling wines and releases them at contained prices, making Felsina accessible to all wine enthusiasts and one of Italy's greatest values!
One of the first wine regions anywhere to be officially recognized and delimited, Chianti Classico is today what was originally defined simply as Chianti. Already identified by the early 18th century as a superior zone, the official name of Chianti was proclaimed upon the area surrounding the townships of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole, just north of Siena, by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany in an official decree in 1716.
However, by the 1930s the Italian government had appended this historic zone with additonal land in order to capitalize on the Chianti name. It wasn’t until 1996 that Chianti Classico became autonomous once again when the government granted a separate DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) to its borders. Ever since, Chianti Classico considers itself no longer a subzone of Chianti.
Many Classicos are today made of 100% Sangiovese but can include up to 20% of other approved varieties grown within the Classico borders. The best Classicos will have a bright acidity, supple tannins and be full-bodied with plenty of ripe fruit (plums, black cherry, blackberry). Also common among the best Classicos are expressive notes of cedar, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic or tobacco.
Among Italy's elite red grape varieties, Sangiovese has the perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino. Somm Secret—Sangiovese doubles under the alias, Nielluccio, on the French island of Corsica where it produces distinctly floral and refreshing reds and rosés.