San Felice

~ Traditional style Chianti Classico in Fiasco ~

San Felice is the largest land holder in Castelnuovo Berardenga.  Covering more than 600 hectares, the estate boasts 140 hectares of vineyards and over 15,000 olive trees.  San Felice is actually a small hamlet complete with medieval Borgo and 31 luxury suites.  But don’t be fooled. Wine is still the focus.

Since the late 1970’s the property has been under the stewardship of the Allianz Group and the winemaking team, under the helm of Leonardo Bellaccini, has been consistently employed.

~ Along with winery and vineyards, the Borgo at San Felice includes a Spa, Chapel, Ristorante and Luxury Apartments  ~

Castelnuovo Berardenga is the southern most commune in Chianti Classico and as such, is also the one with the lowest lying vineyards.  As such, the wines often show ripe, robust flavors amid a denser frame and more masculine features.  The quartet of wines from San Felice are no exception; especially given the excellent vintages they come from.

San Felice – Latest Releases

Recently I had the opportunity to taste through the lineup of San Felice’s newest premium releases.  I have to admit, in the past, I haven’t counted San Felice among my favorite Chianti Classico producers. I can’t pinpoint any particular reason for that.  After all, Castelnuovo Berardenga is typically one of my favorite Commune for Chianti Classico.  (Felsina & Querciavalle are there for starters)  But in the past, the wines just seemed lacking. This tasting has put them back on my radar.

2021 San Felice Chianti Classico –  This is bright ruby with violet highlights in the glass. Fruity, fragrant  on the nose and palate with crunchy berry notes and sapid, tart cranberry dominating the palate.  Soft wood tones dot throughout and join bits and pieces of fresh, sweet herb.  By itself it was good.  Drinkable.  However, it excelled alongside a rustic, homemade Turkey soup.  Classic case of the sum is greater than the parts.  88 points and a good value.  Find this wine.

San Felice

~ The 2021 is a solid, quaffable Chianti Classico ~

The 2020 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva was also a bit of a revelation.  In this feature article, I found the 2019 version of this wine to be surprisingly uninspiring and rather lean.  The style of the 2020 vintage could not have been more different.

In the glass, this is a bright, shimmering deep ruby color that was captivating to look at.  This is very aromatic on the nose with floral notes providing the back drop to massive crushed black cherry aromas.  In the mouth, the core of black cherry fruit is viscous, ripe, concentrated and masculine.  Hints of toasted spices and ripe fennel add some complexity.  This Riserva is medium bodied and remains fresh through the finish.  If there’s a complaint, it’s perhaps a bit monolithic in its delivery.  100% Sangiovese. 90 points.  Find this wine.

San Felice

~ Give this wine a bit of air to blossom, but have faith that it will ~

As these tasting progressed, it was obvious to see the style of the winery come into sharp relief. In fact, it’s almost as if you were looking at a family portrait and noticing the resemblance among siblings.

The 2019 San Felice Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is a deep, dark garnet red in the glass. On the nose, this displays boisterous aromas of dark, black cherry that are almost brooding.  The aromas add toasted spice and licorice notes.  On the palate, the black cherry flavors are full bodied with a silky viscous texture.  Powerful, this is full throttle Berardenga.  Toasted spice and mocha notes are joined with hints of dusty cocoa on the finish.  This is nothing short of spectacular.  Two interesting things stand out here.  The wine is 13% alcohol and is a blend of 80% Sangiovese with the balance to the following:  Abrusco, Pugnitello, Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo and Mazzese.  94 points.  Find this wine.

~ Look at that color! This is a massive wine with wonderful potential for a long evolution ~

I have to admit, the next wine holds a special place in my heart because the first ever vintage was the 1968; my birth year.  In that sense, it predates Tignanello as the first Super Tuscan.

The 2019 San Felice Vigorello relies heavily on the ancient grape, Pugnitello.  I was struggling a bit to determine what impact this amount of Pugnitello will impart to the blend.   So let’s step back a moment and discuss where this grape came from and what it means.

Pugnitello was first cultivated by the Etruscans.  The name of the grape comes from the word “Pugno” which means fist. This is a nod to the shape of the grape clusters which seems to resemble a closed fist.  The character of Pugnitello is to produce dark colored wines with wild berry flavors.  But Pugnitello can also display a herbaceous streak, ala Cabernet Franc, which might help explain its inclusion in this Bordeaux style blend.

In the glass, the wine is deep garnet, almost black.  The aromas present nicely from the glass.  Black plums, blackberry, toasted spices and fresh tobacco leaf/cigar box are notable.  Very complex on the nose.  On the palate, this is viscous and full bodied.  Black plum fruit sits center stage with cocoa, powdered coffee grind, iron and toasted tobacco.  I don’t sense any herbal character.  The finish is long and the dark cocoa asserts itself further.  We drained the entire bottle.   Vigorello is 35% Pugnitello, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet and 5% Petit Verdot.  94 points.  Find this wine.

San Felice

~ Vigorello to me, was unique. It displays a level of Italian accent that clearly reveals its origins.  And in case you didn’t notice – Tuscany Matters  ~

I’m curious to hear what you think of these wines.  Leave a comment or discuss with me on Twitter (X) at Tuscan Vines.


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