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August 14, 2014

Felsina Fontalloro and Rancia Chianti Classico 2010

felsina

It is no secret the 2010 Tuscany vintage is exceptional, to be savoured, collected and enjoyed for many years. Over the last 18 months we have released many of the region’s leading wines, however, over the last month we have revisited this by applying IG Wines’ proprietary POP score software in order to calculate price versus critic scores. The goal of the software is to dynamically uncover wines that possess high marks and are relatively under-priced: the POP Score feature is an automated bargain hunter. This analysis is possible due to arbitrage in the market between perceived value and quality.

We carried POP Score analysis out across the leading Tuscan wines in the 2010 vintage and found several wines that stood out, for example Fontodi’s Vigna del Sorbo is hugely undervalued, as are Felsina’s two great wines Fontalloro and Rancia Chianti Classico Reserva. The Fontalloro received an aggregate score of 94.3 from Monica Larner (94+), Antonio Galloni (94+) and James Suckling (94), while the Rancia received 95+ each from  Monica Larner and Antonio Galloni. Priced at £170 for a case of six bottles this means the Fontalloro has a POP score of 23 and the Rancia 20. Taken in perspective Masseto 2010 has a POP score of 255, Sassicaia 68, even Tignanello and Le Pergola Torte score 33 and 46 respectively. Based on the distribution of POP scores we posit that anything scoring below 30 is undervalued, while a POP score under 25 represents an incredible opportunity: in this case paying under £30 for a 94 and 95 point scoring wines!

Felsina typifies the powerful bravura of Southern Chianti, cited in Castelnuovo Berardenga which lies at the very southernmost tip; although a small part of the 75 hectares vineyard rests in Crete Senesi. As such the wines are stylistically similar to Montalcino, in particular famed for dark fruit flavours, with a wonderful perfume of spice and tobacco, they do not lack power, yet retain superb finesse. This goes a long way to explaining how in every published edition of Italy’s esteemed Gambero Rosso, Felsina has received the coveted Tre Bicchhieri (three glasses) – an outstanding achievement. Felsina is exceptionally consistent and illuminates the very essence of Sangiovese and promise of Chianti’s special terroir.

The grapes for Fontalloro are grown on the Fontalloro and Poggio al Sole vineyards located inside the Chianti Classico zone, along with Casalino and Arcidossino in the Chianti Colli Senesi zone. As such the wine can never be labelled as Chianti Classico, instead a Super Tuscan IGT. Giuseppe Mazzocolin intentionally extended the vineyard outside of the hallowed zone as he believed and was later vindicated, that the soils provide the wine with a unique flavour. The vines have an average age of 50 years and are situated 400 metres above sea level. The soil is predominantly calcareous matter within the Chianti zone with loam and sand at the borders of Crete Senesi.

The Rancia vineyards are contained within the Chianti Classico zone, north east of Siena, covering six hectares which were planted between 1958 and 1982. Once again benefiting from high altitude at 400 metres the vines are restricted to low average yields, 40-45 hl/ha. The soil here is made up of quarzitic blue-grey sandstone, containing layers of sand and calcareous albarese mixed with alluvial pebbles. The highest areas of the vineyard contain limestone marl and the fabled Chianti galestro. The wine is aged for 12 – 18 months in French barrique, followed by six to ten months in bottle before release. The wine is elegant, opulent and beautifully structured.

Felsina’s Fontalloro and Rancia Chianti Classicos are unilaterally loved by critics with varying palates. This could be attributed to their wine’s superb ability to combine power and finesse, while also remaining structured. The wines displays Chianti’s famed notes of sour cheery and violets, with sweet spice and delightful minerality. However, what is most exceptional about these two wines is their quality versus price, particularly in 2010 when they made two of their greatest ever wines. Both can be drunk young, yet will age for 20 years.

Felsina Fontalloro 2010,  6×75 - £170 or £218.76 incl. duty and VAT
Antonio Galloni 94+
The 2010 Fontalloro (Sangiovese) is impeccable. A sweet, open bouquet melds into expressive red fruits. Compared to the 2010 Rancia, Fontalloro is a decidedly more delicate, feminine wine. All the elements are very nicely balanced. I expect the 2010 will enjoy a fairly broad window of drinkability. Today I give the 2010 a very slight nod over the 2009, only because I think the 2010 will age a little longer, but both are striking.

Felsina Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva  2010, 6×75 - £155 or £200.76 incl. duty and VAT
Antonio Galloni, 95+
The 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is cool, inward and reserved at this stage. Much less expressive than it was from barrel, today the 2010 appears to be in a closed phase. There is so much tension in the glass, though, and I can hardly wait to see where the 2010 goes over the coming years. A burst of mineral and floral infused fruit lingers on the polished, nuanced finish. Today, the 2010 seems to bring together the finesse of 2004 with the structure and power of the 2010. A pretty magical combination, if you ask me.

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