In the world of wine there are some wines that are just misunderstood. Riesling is probably the best example, Viognier is another; but the one wine with the most baggage is probably Chianti. Everyone knows Chianti, but it seems not many understand Chianti. Those of us of a certain age remember the straw basket wrapped Il Fiasco Chiantis of yore. Chianti like many regions was a victim of its own success. Now don’t get me wrong we sell a lot of Chianti and here dedicate as much floor space to wines of Tuscany as we do those of Bordeaux.
If you wanted to try a benchmark Chianti I can think of none better than Fattoria di Fèlsina. Located in the village of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the province of Siena, Felsina has long been one of the great names in Chianti. Fèlsina produces one of the finest ranges of ageworthy and complex Chianti bottlings in all of Italy. Fèlsina has never capitulated to the use of international varietals, Sanigovese is what you will see growing in their vineyards.
Their elegant full bodied wines are some of the most well regarded in Tuscany. Felsina has been awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri 17 times in the Gambero Rosso. The single vineyard Rancia is one of the most highly rated wines in Chianti. A personal favorite is the Beradenga Chianti Classico. Guiseppe Mazzocolin, who runs the estate of Felsina says the wine, a blend of selected top wines from all of his vineyards, falls qualitatively between the Berardenga Rancia Riserva bottling and his regular Chianti Classico. I find this wine to be outstanding nearly always. First produced in 1983, it’s a harmonious and rich red, 100 percent Sangiovese, with lots of ripe fruit and silky tannins.
Fèlsina’s 2013 Chianti Classico Berardenga shows a great level of richness and general intensity. The wine reveals a very full and luscious set of aromas with cherry and blackberry in pole position. Lighter tones of spice and tobacco fill in at the back and give the wine a greater sense of aromatic lift. The mouthfeel is also characterized by velvety richness – a delicious vintage.
Once again the critics are unanimous in their praise.
Wine Spectator- 92, Wine Enthusiast – 92, James Suckling – 92, Advocate – 91+, Vinious – 91
Chianti is a personal favorite of mine, speaking as a chef there are few wines that are more food friendly. The mix of acid, earth and fruit is a natural for pairing to everything from hearty soups, Pastas of all sorts, grilled cheese sandwiches or Steak. With this weather I could think of few dishes as satisfying as a Hearty Tuscan style sausage and kale soup.
This soup is ready in about 25 minutes and makes a wonderful supper, all you need is some good crusty bread, a drizzle of olive oil and a nice bottle of Chianti.
Tuscan Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup with Tortellini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian sweet sausage, casing removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leave
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 cup red wine
1 15 ounce can Tomatoes
52 oz chicken broth
115 ounce can white cannellini beans
1 lb Cheese tortellini, fresh
1 bunch kale, stems removed chiffonade
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Freshly Grated Pecorino Toscano
We hope you enjoy the recipe and find time to share some good food and wine with friends and loved ones.