PnP. Dark red. Classic Sangiovese scents of spice and smoke. Still a bit lean on the palate but with excellent depth; not generous at this point but still with upside potential, as the depth of fruit and buried tannins are still very much present. More developed than the '06 but not singing like an '07 was a few weeks ago.
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(Felsina Berardenga Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva) This is Felsina's flagship wine, and one that has been adorable in previous vintages, and the 2004 doesn't disappoint - although the price seems to be continuing its upward trend. Dense fruit, liquorice, slightly tarry, certainly rich with a promising depth. Lots of cherry and plum fruit on the palate, backed up by piles of structure and tannins. Fresh, not roasted, but deep and impressively structured, with lots of grip and a huge finish. Great length. Excellent potential.
As many of you know, Italian wines are my first love and I’ve spent most of my career watching the Italian wine industry change (for better or worse). Styles have changed and traditional examples have gone by the wayside in favor of more oak and extract but through it all some producers have found a way to blend tradition and terroir seamlessly with just enough modernity to keep up with the times. It’s happened in Piedmont, Tuscany and now in the south but a few wines have stood out as reasonable bargains at the top-end that always seem to rise above.
On my last trip to Italy in February, I passed before my lips what I believed to be one of the finest examples of Chianti Classico since the 1990 vintage - it was one of those wines mentioned above that always seems to be at the very top in most vintages and the style has remained true to form regardless of fashion. While everyone was chasing the 2003 version of this wine (due to the recent WA ratings and crazy low prices), I knew the 2004 that I tasted was far superior to the 2003 - so much so that I passed on my entire allocation of 2003 to get double the 2004 (which nobody cared about because it had not been reviewed). Even though the 2004 was 20% higher in price than the 2003, I finalized the deal and went on my merry way...
...last month, Tanzer’s IWC gave the wine I tasted last February, the 2004 Felsina “Rancia”, a 95pt score making it the highest rated example of Chianti Classico in the publication’s history. By contrast, the 2003 Rancia received a 91 - an excellent wine, but it is not in this league (few, if any Tuscan wines are - at any price - and that includes Solaia, Massetto, et al).
Without being verbose or overly hyperbolic, but just telling it like it is - this wine has basically disappeared from the landscape before release - I’m just happy I committed to it last February (allocations of the 2004 are scant, even if you purchased large amounts of 2003).
Now it’s time for you to benefit with one of the lowest priced, most impressive wines I’ve come across in a long time. This wine has everything - intellectual attributes, fantastic definition and structure, extended ageing ability and a magical quality of the purest, densest fruit that sets it apart from its peer group. It will be fascinating to watch this wine evolve over the next 10-20 years as I believe it has more ability to gain complexity than most of the overly-alcoholic 2001 Brunellos (at a far lesser price). Even if you’ve been on a wine-buying moratorium, this is one to break the silence with as Chianti Classico of this quality rarely, if ever, comes around.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (as high a recommendation as I can give for Chianti Classico)
ONE SHIPMENT ONLY directly from the winery cellar with perfect provenance:
2004 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia”
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA
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