Fontodi and Felsina are masters of Sangiovese. Owned by the Mannetti and Poggiali families respectively, the estates share a common thread in that they both enlist Franco Bernabei as consulting winemaker. The pinnacles of their production may very well be their single vineyard Gran Selezione.
The last time I tasted these wines, the state of the world was rather different. As time has passed and the wines have settled somewhat from their infancy, they to have they evolved. Recently, I opened both to check on their progress.
Felsina’s vineyard Colonia was planted in 1993. Sitting at the top of the Rancia hill, the parcel is essentially a subplot of the larger Rancia vineyard. The first vintage produced was 2006, though it was actually bottled without a designation. Production in Colonia is greatly reduced and Felsina’s team restricts production to about 5 buds per vine. As a result, only 3,000 bottles per vintage are produced. The wine is aged in new French oak for 30 months and is then blended, bottled and aged an additional 12 months prior to release.
The 2016 Felsina Gran Selezione Colonia is deep violet in the glass. I double decanted the wine about 45 minutes before we sat down to dinner and that was sufficient. From the glass, aromas of crushed cherry, flowers and mint are notable. On the palate, the wine is full bodied with racy tannins that make it approachable now with food. Deep flavors of black cherry are framed by toasted spice, tobacco leaf and cured meat. The acidity is bright and mouthwatering. In comparison with the Fontodi, this has always been the more forward of the two and that’s still the case. Yet, Colonia’s best days lie ahead. Continue cellaring 3-5 more years. 94 points. Find this wine.
Vigna del Sorbo began life as a Chianti Classico Riserva but was “promoted” so to speak after the creation of the Gran Selezione designation. Fontodi is certified organic and has been crafting wines in Chianti’s Conca d’Oro since 1968. In comparison to Colonia, the availability of Vigna del Sorbo is widespread; almost 30,000 bottles per vintage are produced.
The 2016 Fontodi Gran Selezione Vigna del Sorbo is sourced from vineyards that are 40 years old. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and then aged in French barrique for 24 months, 50% of which are new. Beyond that, the wine is aged in bottle for 12-14 months before release.
We decanted the wine for about an hour but all that did was make it approachable. The needle hasn’t moved much with this wine in 20 months. Deep garnet in the glass, the wine’s aromas are notable. Black cherry, dusty tobacco, freshly cut flowers and herbs are very attractive.
On the palate, the wine is brooding. The ripe cherry flavors are obvious, but they are backed by a large scaled wall of tannins. Dusty tannins, but intrusive nonetheless. Fennel and coffee notes appear on the midpalate but are shortened by the wine’s “grip” which remains somewhat charry. The structure and backward nature of this wine exceeds even Flaccianello which is a much more elegant and sultry wine from Fontodi. This is a bistecca wine. I wouldn’t even try this before 2026 and even then, 2031 feels more right. 92 points at the moment. Find this wine.
What are your thoughts on these wines or on Gran Selezione in general? Share your thoughts in the comment section.