Bricks Wine Advent Calendar 2017: Day 17

17 12 2017

By Dan Steeves

Day 17 of the Bricks Wine Advent Calendar brings us back to Italy for a taste from the iconic region of Chianti Classico, located south of Florence in central Tuscany. For me, Chianti is synonymous with pizza and rich pastas and is my go-to wine for such fare. It can be quaffable yet complex and its strong acidity makes it easy to pair with a lot of different foods, especially most of my favourite Italian dishes.

One of the many sub-zones located within the greater Chianti region, Chianti Classico has a long history of winemaking going back thousands of years; the region was officially delimited back in 1716. At the time, it was known solely as Chianti, and as popularity of the wine increased in the early 20th century, the region had to expand to further adjacent towns to meet demand. In 1932, “Classico” was added to wines made within the original delimited Chianti area and in 1984 it was established as its own DOCG. Chianti Classico is generally known as a higher quality wine compared to its neighbouring Chianti wines due in part to the more strict rules on its production, including longer aging (minimum 1 year vs 3 months), grape varietal content (Classico must have a minimum of 80% Sangiovese and no white grapes are permitted), and higher alcohol (minimum 12% vs 11.5%). Further quality tiers also exist in Chianti Classico with Riserva and Gran Selezione wines. Riserva wines must be aged for a minimum of 2 years, while Gran Selezione wines must be aged a minimum of 2.5 years, are comprised of the best fruit from the estate’s own vineyards, and have to be approved through a tasting panel to ensure they meet the strict quality threshold.

Tonight’s wine, the 2014 Félsina Berardenga Chianti Classico, comes from a relatively young producer which started in 1966 and whose vineyards are located on the southeastern edge of the Chianti Classico border at Castelnuovo Berardenga. All of Félsina’s Chianti Classico wines are made with 100% Sangiovese and throughout the years they have worked to ensure the best possible matches between various Sangiovese clones and the terroir of their lands. Out of the 600 hectares of land held by Félsina, only just 15% is under vine with the remainder farmed for other crops (olives, grains, fruits, etc) as they believe strongly in maintaining biodiversity on their land. This passion and respect for the land carries through to their wines, which showcase rich and dense flavours with an elegant structure.

The wine has a medium ruby colour with a fairly deep core, more than what you might expect for a Chianti (Classico). With a medium intensity, the wine comes out of the gates with an assortment of fruit aromas including plum, raspberry, dried dark cherry, and red licorice. The fruit isn’t overbearing though, and is layered over a strong core of developing notes of wet stone minerality, leather, clove, a light medicinal aroma and uncooked pie dough. This beautiful nose is equally matched on the palate, which shows much more earthy flavours of dried leaves, leather, clove, tomato leaf, vanilla, and walnut. The cherry and plum fruit come through on the tongue as well, but more the skin of the fruit than the flesh. Structurally the wine is solid with strong acidity, fleshy tannins, and a finish that provokes you to fill up your glass and take another serving of spaghetti.

89+ points

The easily recognizable black rooster seal of Chianti Classico. If you don’t know the story behind it, check out this previous post on Pop & Pour here.

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