Three from San Felice

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, and I have a quick correction: there will be *no* current release wines Cadence wines; only library wines. Exciting! List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. I have been thrilled with the way our list members have embraced Chianti over the past few years. It is a terrific value-hunter’s category, but it requires legwork, a lot of frog-kissing to find the princes. And that’s the Full Pull model: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to (we should probably put that on a staff t-shirt; Full Pull Wines: We Kiss Frogs).

Chianti’s fortunes are improving in the US market, but it’s still walking the line between fashionable and unfashionable, still burdened by the days of swill-in-straw-baskets. But no matter. We know better. Fashion or no, we know that Chianti remains one of the world’s beating hearts of Sangiovese, and that the good bottles are really, really good.

A Chianti producer that our list has gone crazy for is San Felice, which is in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga (located here), at an altitude of about 1300ft. Their grounds encompass 650 hectares of grapes, 17,000 olive trees (!), and an agritourismo (let’s visit!). Today we have three San Felice Chiantis, one a new vintage of an old favorite, one an entirely new category of wine in Chianti, and the last a reoffer of a wine that’s getting down towards end of vintage.

This summer, reviewers from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate weighed in very favorably on San Felice, so sales pressures could be a little higher than usual as we enter Sangiovese-drinking season. Fortunately we have an import partner in Seattle who DIs (direct-imports) these wines right into town, so we’re always able to access decent parcels, and always able to offer strong tariffs compared to their release prices.

2010 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Wine Advocate (Monica Larner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Il Grigio is 100% Sangiovese, from a selection of San Felice’s oldest/best vineyard sites. It sees 24 months in the traditional Slavonian botti (large neutral puncheon), with a small portion going into smaller barrel. Very dark and brooding, it offers blackberry fruit, shitake notes, and dark floral topnotes (violet). Of the two 2010s, this is the wilder, the more rustic, with toothsome black-tea tannins that linger well after a swallow. There’s lovely chewy charm here.

2010 San Felice Chianti Classico Il Grigio Gran Selezione

The “Gran Selezione” is a new category for Chianti, introduced by the Consorzio last year. Bruce Sanderson wrote a fine article about it (featuring San Felice, as it happens) for Wine Spectator. The upshot is: these are supposed to be the highest quality Chiantis produced. They must be entirely estate-grown, must be aged for 30 months, and must be at least 80% Sangiovese, the remainder other approved varieties.

That “other approved varieties” is where San Felice gets to have fun, because they have something on site called their “Vitiarium.” Started in 1980, it houses more than 200 obscure indigenous varieties, several of which go into this 2010 (Abrusco, Pugnitello, Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo, Mazzese). The wine sees 24 months in a mix of large Slavonian botti and small French barrique, then another 8 months in bottle before release. It is a beautiful inauguration of a new Chianti category, offering wonderful earthy/savory character, with mushroom and tomato paste and a fat tarry streak to pair with black fruit. Stylish, rich, and just absolutely delicious, this made me want to find the biggest bowl of pasta and crack open a bottle.

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Wine Advocate (Monica Larner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2008 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso

Originally offered March 30, 2014. Excerpts from original offer: Poggio Rosso is San Felice’s single-vineyard gem (they call it “the true aristocrat of Chianti Classico”), and it blends 80% Sangiovese with 10% each of the considerably more rare Colorino and Pugnitello. It comes from the calcareous marl soils of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the foothills outside of Siena, and it is aged for 20 months in large Slavonian oak botti, followed by another 15 months in bottle, before release. That means this was likely released in early 2012, so we get the benefit of an extra three years of bottle age, taking it right up against the beginning of peak drinking. Sweet.

Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Great tasting note, as usual from Galloni. I agree that this is a big, ripe, deep wine, a total palate-stainer that somehow pulls off the trick of also conveying a lively sense of inner-mouth perfume and energy. The mix of loamy earth, dried cherry fruit, high-cacao chocolate, and citrus-pith bitters is fabulous. This is just going to keep getting better and better. The fine sense of balance suggests that it will offer untold rewards during each successive step in its evolution.

Please limit order requests to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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