It’s been nine long years: 2004 Felsina Riserva Rancia

This was one of the first wines I ever started to collect in numbers greater than “1”. This was, of course, still several years before I worked for their (at that time) national importer. So, one bottle, usually purchased the ‘day of’ ended up, as I began to really know this bottling, and this producer, as an annual case purchase.

Here I sit, some 12 years after I purchased this case, and I’m down to just three bottles, which is an absolute shame. No, it’s not a shame that I’ve enjoyed this nine times already, rather it’s a shame that based on today’s bottle, AND my experiences with the previous eight bottles, that I don’t have another case resting in the cellar. The “why?” behind this is that it’s clear to me: this has a bright future as well as a bright past.

perfect cork, fill, etc., stored since release; lucky to have such a fine showing

Based on this particular showing, assuming this is representative of where the majority of others are in their evolution, this comes across showing in its absolute last days of childhood/adolescence, with a half or full stride toward maturity.

What does this mean? In the instant case, upon removing the cork, there’s plenty of barnyard/soil/sense of place aromas. Good, I like that, because, for my palate, it generally means it’ll blow off in 15 or so minutes and reveal the fruit, spice, leather, etc. that I know is undoubtedly underneath. And that’s exactly what happed with this, too, after the sous bois aromas had passed, a trickle of bright cherry, followed by an admixture of black raspberry and black truffle aromas emerged.

if you’re visiting Fèlsina, make some time to stop here, too

At this point I took the first sip – which never counts – waited two or three minutes for my palate to ‘set’, and had a second sip, which does count. There I found the evidence I was looking for to support what the nose was telling me, that this is indeed in a very good place, and that indeed, there was plenty in reserve, too.

After the second taste, I let the remaining 1,5oz sit in the glass for ~ 15 minutes. Without swirling, I buried my nose in the glass and discovered freshly ground coffee, mushrooms, and herbal accents, each competing for the right to be center stage.

Some ten minutes later, again prior to any swirling, there was no trace of the coffee, or mushrooms, and only trace herbal notes. In their place I found bright cherry, red/purple flowers, freshly tilled soil, and whisper of tobacco.

after leaving Pitigliano, I passed through/by the farm (above) at Isole e Olena before moving south to Castelnuovo Berardenga

At this point, the wine has shed any/all of the sweet oak notes I found after removing the cork, it had kept the same weight, but the weight had shifted, and the physique was more muscular in the fit, toned kind of way. In addition, the acids had perked up, and the tannins became slightly finer. The final result was a combination of elegance and power, and the comforting feeling that comes with knowing this has the structure to age well for another decade, or more. Which is really good, because I still have two 5 liter bottles in addition to the three 750s 🙂

In short, this is a classic wine, with a medium/medium+ body, it’s red-fruited, with good complexity now, and the potential to develop even more in the coming years. It’s still showing plenty of juicy fruit at its core, and shows enough of it to continue to age without fear of drying out any time soon. The alcohol is 13,5%, and the overall structure is in balance, and offers good reserve. This was a highly recommended wine when I first tasted it in 2008, and it remains so today.

In conclusion, this is in the top 10% of wines, in that it’s given pleasure all along its ageing curve in addition to showing the kind of stuffing that will allow this to gain additional complexities and retain a juicy core of fruit while it does. One of the key features that bottles such as this share in common with the others in the aforementioned ‘top 10%’ is that beyond its obvious deliciousness, it’s also a wine that by the end of the night I’m just as content to sit and smell as I am to drink it; ok, maybe at that point, I’m happier just smelling it, it’s that complex, and lovely. It’s easy to get lost in fine art.

bye, bye Castelnuovo Berardenga, see you next time!

A copy of my note from December 2008. I wrote two notes, because I liked it so much, I opened a second one the same night; the friends that were with me agreed it was a good decision.

12/8/2008 – I LIKE THIS WINE: (Edit)

On my Top 10 list for 2008. If you enjoy true varietal correctness AND you’re a Sangiovese lover, this is your wine, baby!

Truly one of the purest, most compelling noses I’ve encountered this year – violets, tart raspberry, a hint of tar, red flowers, vanilla creme and red berry liqueur. A splendid example of a medium bodied wine, with an increasingly complex nose, a full mid-palate and a 30+ second finish. Get ready for a mouthful of tart red berries and a milk chocolate-covered cherry because this bottle is full of ’em. Tannins perfectly integrated, superb structure, 13.5% abv and ~ $47. Outstanding, buying a case asap. Drink thru 2029

fyi, absolutely(!) visit here if visiting Firenze

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