March: Wine of The Month - The Felsina!

March: Wine of The Month - The Felsina!

Our sommelier, Carl, dives into the world of this Italian beauty, the Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2016 ( from the hilly region of Tuscany, Italy). 

Take a peek at why he loves this particular Chianti, what makes it so special, its flavor profile, its origin, the critics’ ratings and reviews, and more. 

Ruby red, intense notes, and hints of wild berry and floral notes, this wine will soon make its way to the top of your list for your upcoming spring festivities and dinner parties! 

A Little Bit About Our Sommelier:

Carl started working at the Golden Steer Steakhouse as a server in 2016. He was promoted to Wine Director and House Sommelier in 2019. He is a lover of all things wine and service.



Q: What’s the wine of the month and why is it special?

I love Felsina. They are the standard bearer for Chianti. The vineyard started in 1966, and the gentleman who founded it still operates the company today. This maker is a stickler for traditional methods, and they have stayed true to their style since the ‘60s. Many winemakers have sought to modernize and experiment, but Felsina has focused on perfecting the original craft and being the best.

Q: Tell us about the region and grapes.

The grapes are 100% sangiovese and sourced from Chianti, which is in the heart of the Tuscany region. In the region, they have a consortium, a group of unbiased wine professionals, who taste wine for typicity before permitting the wines to be released to the public. Typicity is a term used in wine tasting to describe the degree to which a wine reflects its varietal regions. There are eight sub-regions of Chianti. The heart is the Chianti classico region, and this is the one that is most prized, find a Chianti that is a special one, and you’ll want it to come from the classical region itself.

The Rancia vineyard itself is an old farmhouse and used to be an old monastery for the Benedictine monks. It’s a southwest facing vineyard and doesn’t get the majority of its sunlight until the afternoon, producing very ripe grapes that don’t turn to photosynthesis throughout the entire day. The result fresh acidity, good sangiovese fruit, and a taut backbone

Q: What’s the flavor profile?

The Felsina Chianti Classico is full-bodied with notes of pure tart cherry, dried savory herbs, and there’s this underbrush quality that gives it an herbaceous tone. Similar to many Chiantis, it exhibits a sanguine flavor as well, which goes beautifully with slow roasted meats, like prime rib. The wine is aged for 18 months in French Oak barrels, which impart notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and other baking spices. We would consider this wine moderate plus with regards to its tannins, which interacts well with rich foods such as chicken parmesan and goes great with filet mignon. 

Q: What makes this wine different from other Chiantis?

The purity, the level of intensity, and the aroma and flavors, speak to the quality. Many other producers have allowed other grapes beside Sangiovese to be blended in the Chianti, such as the Canioaolo and Colorino. Makers are permitted to use these grapes to make a consistent wine from year to year, but I am drawn to producers that use exclusively Sangiovese year to year. This wine is distinctive because it's expressive, and whenever I think of Chianti this is the producer that comes to mind.

Q: If this wine was a personality, who would it be?

I always think about our celebrity booths, and in this case this wine makes me think of a polished Italian mobster. A classy gentleman who behaves well in the main street. It’s a perfect wine to drink in our notorious mob room.

Sneak Peak:

We are soon to offer the super Tuscan, the Fontalloro, along with new selections from Felsina as well. Something to look forward to!

Critic Reviews & Scores:

James Suckling (95) - 

Plenty of fruit concentration with cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors. Full-bodied with chewy tannins and lots of concentration. Intense and rich. Give it a year or two to come together. Better after 2021.

Vinous (95) - 

The 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is incredibly polished and sophisticated. Silky tannins give the 2017 its racy, sleek personality. Over the last year, the 2017 has really settled into a gorgeous place. There is plenty of vintage 2017 intensity, but Rancia is distinctly medium in body and restrained. The wilder side of Sangiovese, one of the signatures of Rancia and Fèlsina more broadly, tastes a bit baked out. I can't wait to see how the 2017 develops over the coming years and decades. Drinking window: 2025 - 2042

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (94) - 

Rancia is always one of my favorite wines from this storied appellation (and the Castelnuovo Berardenga subzone). This vintage threw quite a few challenges at the winemaking team, but the Fèlsina 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia emerges intact, intense and beautiful. It is virtually unscathed by the heat and drought that marked this growing season. In fact, that brilliant radiance, linearity and energy of the Sangiovese grape comes through loud and clear. The bouquet is redolent of red fruit, wild berry, toasted almond, violet and potting soil. My score is a little lower (compared to past vintages) in terms of mouthfeel because I found this edition to be a bit shorter and less impactful on the finish, but not by much. It ages in barrique for up to 20 months.

Decanter (93) - 

In 2017, Giovanni Poggiali describes the work in the vineyard as focused on the vines' root system to reduce water stress. Harvest started 15 days earlier than average and at the beginning of September he did a qualitative thinning to get rid of any shrivelled bunches or those showing problems with ripening. Fèlsina's flagship wine, Rancia is still brooding. Plum and tar show up on a backdrop of vanilla and exotic spice. Though fruit is supple, layers of assertive tannins need time to loosen their grip. Appetizingly savory, this finishes with an intense, irony character. Drinking Window 2022 - 2032.