Fontalloro and other Tuscan wines from Fèlsina

Fèlsina 20150910 Andrea BoniventoI had the opportunity to taste through some wines from Fattoria di Fèlsina, a winery in Tuscany, when Andrea Bonivento from Fèlsina visited Stockholm, invited by their Swedish importer Vinunic. Fèlsina is located in Castelnuovo Berardenga, which is in the southern part of the Chianti Classico area.

The most well-known wine from Fèlsina is Fontalloro, which is a 100% Sangiovese wine which is usually counted to the “Super Tuscan” category, since it is a wine characterised by “modern” winemaking. The first Fontalloro vintage was 1983.

The grapes for Fontalloro originates from three vineyards, two in the Chianti Classico area and one in Chianti Colli Senesi. The wine spends 18-24 months in oak barrels before bottling, and they use a mixture of new French oak and barrels that have been used once before. Nowadays the proportion of new oak 45-50%.

The comparison between the 2011 and the older vintages gave me the impression that they propably have somewhat reduced the oak character in Fontalloro in recent years, something that was specifically mentioned for their white wine from the 2007 vintage. To me, this is a positive development. Also, they did quite a bit of replanting in the early 2000s, with vine clones they considered better, and this can also have affected the wine in a positive direction in recent years.

Fontalloro is classified as an IGT Toscana, which formally is a simpler classification than e.g. DOCG Chianti Classico, which is used for some other Fèlsina wines. The reason is that Fontalloro originally, being a varietal Sangiovese, fell outside the Chianti regulations of the day, thatb allowed a maximum of 70% Sangiovese and required at least 10% white grapes to be included in the red wines. Nowadays, Felsina could be a DOCG Chianti, but Fèlsina has chosen to keep it an IGT Toscana.

I got the impression that Fèlsina doesn’t see the term “Super Tuscan” to be particularly important to use, perhaps because there has been a bit of an inflation in its use in recent year. It probably also contributes that they really are a Sangiovese producer rather than winery that uses French grape varieties. The first Super Tuscans were Bordeaux blends or blends of Sangiovese with Bordeaux grapes classified as a lowly Vino da Tavola. This was the classification for “table wines” that was intended for wines considerably more modest than the simplest straw-decorated Chianti in its round fiasco bottle. In 1992, the possibility to use the “medium category” IGT Toscana was added, and since then it has been the most used designation for Super Tuscans, with the exception of those in DOC Bolgheri.

Fontalloro 20150910Tasting notes – Fontalloro

2011 Fontalloro

Medium red with a lighter edge. Nose with cherries, “crushed stone” minerality, spices, oak barrel notes with some chocolate, hints of flowery notes and liqueur. Palate with cherries, prominent acidity, noticeable tannins, good concentration, and stony minerality. Young and firm, 91+ p. Tasted from a half bottle.

The 2011 shows less obvious oak barrel notes and more elegance compared to the two other vintages, and more berry-dominated notes. Compared to the 2011 of the sister wine Rancio (see further down in this post), the 2011 Fontalloro has distinctly more firm and balanced palate. As a vintage, 2011 was not too easy for the producers, but the hot summer is not really noticeable in this wine.

2006 Fontalloro

Medium red colour, slightly darker and more opaque core with a lighter edge. Nose with cherries and somewhat developed notes with dried spices and other spicy notes, hints of leather and barnyard aromas, some crushed stone minerality, and rather well integrated oak barrel notes. Palate with cherries and other berries, good concentration, prominent acidity, noticeable tannins, some stony minerality, and an aftertaste with tannins and minerality. Still rather young on the palate, 91 p.

2006 is considered to be a good vintage with a good potential. The 2006 is more spicy than the 2011, with more prominent oak. The grape material of the 2006 with the vinification of the 2011 had probably resulted in a higher score from me.

1999 Fontalloro

Medium red, slightly opaque, and a paler edge with brick notes. Nose with cherries, dark plums, spicy notes with some dried spices, developed notes with barnyard aromas, leather, some charcuteries, glühwein/Christmas spices, and overall a complex character. Palate with cherries, dark plums, noticeable spice notes, good acidity, prominent but somewhat softened tannins. Fully developed, 92 p.

Other wines

White – dry and sweet

Fèlsina 20150910 I Sistri2012 I Sistri Chardonnay
100% Chardonnay, vinified in oak barrels, 8-10% new oak.

Nose with ripe yellow apples and yellow plums, some zest, some oak barrel notes with slightly smoky character, and hints of butter. Palate with good concentration, yellow apples, yellow plums, rather good acidity, minerality, and some spice notes, as well as a fruity aftertaste. A hot Chardonnay expression (as is usually the case in Italy) with good concentration, weight and foody character for its price level. Drinks well now, 88 p.

I Sistri has been produced since the 1987 vintage. Since 2007 they have become more restrained in their use of new oak, which I consider to be positive. My impression is that many Italian producers have stuck with bit too oaked style and clumsy of Chardonnay longer than those in e.g. Australia and the United States. Here, I had no complaints regarding the balance.

Fèlsina 20150910 Colonia Vin Santo2005 Vin Santo Classico
Grape varieties: Malvasia, Trebbiano, and 25% Sangiovese, dried grape stored seven years in caratelli barrels of 100 liter. Residual sweetness 156 g/l.

Golden and light amber colour. Nose with caramel, rather noticeable spicy notes, some orange zest, apricot purée and some dried apricot, some nuts and almond notes, discrete oxidation notes with volatile acidity, hints of vanilla, and a little bit of “Madeira notes”. The palate is sweet – I’d say “regular sweet” among sweet wines – and noticeably spicy with powerful concentration, apricots including apricot compote, dried apricots, good acidity, and a long aftertaste with dried apricots and some spice. 92 p. Tasted from a half bottle.

Red wine, other than Fontalloro

All red wines gave a distinct Sangiovese feeling, but with differing expressions.

Fèlsina 20150910 Berardenga Rancia2012 Chianti Classico Berardenga
100% Sangiovese, 12 months in small and medium-sized oak barrels.

Light red colour with a lighter edge. Nose with ripe red berries, cherries, rose hip, hints of dried berries, some oak and spices. Became more flowery with time in the glass. Palate with red berries including cranberries including a distinct cranberry bitterness, prominent acidity, tannins with some bite, aftertaste with tannins and some hints of oak. Young, 87-88(+) p.

Berardenga definitely showed less prominent oak barrel notes than the Rancia did. In general, 2012 is said to be a good vintage, with good minerality and acidity/freshness.

2011 Chianti Classico Rancia Reserva
100% Sangiovese, 18-20 months in new French oak.

Light to medium red colour. Nose with ripe cherries, spices, some chocolate and oak, some dried berries, with a total impression of some cherry pralines. Palate with cherries, good concentration, spice notes, good acidity, noticeable tannins, oak feeling, and aftertaste with cherries and tannins. Young, 89(+) p.

Comment: Rancia is the name of the vineyard, not to be confused with the wine term “rancio”, which indicates an oxidised style of fortified and other wines.

2009 Colonia Gran Selezione
Chianti Classico. 100% Sangiovese, 30 months in new French oak.

Nose with cherries and other red berries, some orange zest, slightly flowery, some minerality of the chalky type, well integrated spicy notes, some animal notes, and well integrated oak barrel character showing more as oak wood rather than chocolate. Palate with red berries and powerful concentration, cranberries, some dried berries, high acidity, stony minerality, quite prominent tannins, and an aftertaste with cranberries and tannins. Young, 92+ p.

The first vintage of Colonia was the 2006, when it was an IGT Toscana. This wine is sold at a higher price level than Fontalloro. Compared to the Fontalloro, Colonia shows more classical Chinati character, but then again it is a Chianti Classico.

Swedish version of this post.

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