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We Recommend : Félsina Chianti Classico 2006

Recently announced Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines for 2008, lists Félsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 2006 at no. 51, ahead of all other Chianti Classicos. This is only one of the reasons it is a  great value-for-money Italian red wine for drinking now or another 6-10 year, recommends Subhash Arora.

It has elegant and fruity nose with blackberry aromas that have floral touch in the background. The medium-full body brilliant ruby red coloured spicy wine is still young and  slightly tannic but juicy and persistent taste on the mouth with shades of citric fruit and depth in the flavour.

Félsina Chianti Classico is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes grown on vines that are more than 50 years old and would have qualified to be an IGT Super Tuscan wine only a decade ago before the appellation laws were modified to allow up to 100% Sangiovese for the docg wine.

'This is a terrific effort from one of Italy's most consistently outstanding producers,' says Robert Parker.

Surprisingly, many produces complain that Giuseppe Mazzocolin, owner of Fattoria di Félsina keeps the prices of his Chianti Classico wines very low. Perhaps, this is the reason his representative wine rated 90 points from Wine Spectator, and yet got the highest accolades for a Chianti Classico.

Retailing for $17-20, it may be purchased at the lowest prices from most enotecas in Italy or super liquor stores in the USA as also in UK. Unfortunately, the duty free shops in India are not yet enlightened enough to keep such fabulous quality affordable wines at the airports.

I was surprised to learn from Isheeta Gupta, the General Manager of Amfora, the importer of this wine that hotels still do not value the quality of the Classico and continue to compare them with the cheaper Chiantis. If that were true, it would be a shame.

The grape used in this dry Chianti Classico is the same as in Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, which are more expensive. The laws of production are much more strict than ordinary Chianti,  besides the premium location being an important factor-fruit is more concentrated, yield is lower, the minimum alcohol level is higher (12% vs. 10.5%), the min dry solid extract is higher (23 gms/l compared to 19 gms/l in Chianti).

This is not to say that some of the Chiantis are not of decent, quaffable quality. But generally, Chianti Classico has a lot more character, costs at least 50% more and is a serious food wine compared to Chianti which would be a picnic, pasta, or an everyday house wine in a restaurant bogged down by the heavy customs duty.

It wont be out of place to mention that even Chianti has a few hill-specific sub regions which fall within the above two categories- for instance,  Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Pisan Hills,"Montalbano", "Rufina", "Montespertoli" e 22 g/l per il vino con la specificazione "Superiore". Montalbano and Rufina.

Contact Amfora Wines at 29232823-25 or write to info@amforawine.com regarding availability and prices.

If the 2006 is not yet available, go for the next best vintage 2003 or 2004 which are both more approachable with softer tannins and are more rounded at the present time. They were also good vintages; 2003 being more opulent due to a very hot summer.

Or better yet, if you can afford it, go for a Riserva. This is the fuller body, longer oaked variant that would dance in your mouth. It would be reassuring to know that Giuseppe makes this special wine only in good harvest years.

Drink with tandoori mutton, sikandari raan, mushroom based vegetables, perhaps rogan josh or makki-ki-roti and sarson saag. Of course, it is a natural pair for red sauce pastas, pepperoni or ham pizzas, and a host of Italian meat dishes with Bolognaise sauce.

Subhash Arora

 

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