You could be easily forgiven for assuming that San Felice is an old school, “traditional” Tuscan wine estate. Take one look at their famousChiantiClassico Riserva Il Grigio€19.99 with its venerable medieval knight on the label and it screams traditional. Indeed the style too would be classed along the traditional lines as it harks back to pre-‘Chianti boom’ days to when top producers stuck to Sangiovese and aged in old, large format Slavonian oak barrels.
However behind this traditional face San Felice are in fact extremely innovative and are constantly seeking ways to improve their established wines as well as create new wines to suit the modern world.
One of their most exciting developments in recent years has been the creation of an affordable wine from their Maremma coast estate. WithPerolla Rosso(€12.99) they have championed local grape Ciliegiolo (20%)which they believe is better suited to the area than Sangiovese which has dropped from 35% of the blends to just 10%. The results are astonishing;Perollais now a super-ripe, modern Italian with great depth of sweet dark-berried fruit and a kick of Morello on the finish.
Incidentally its white partner is the super fresh, aromatic Perolla Vermentino (€12.99)which even has a 15% dollop of herby/lemony Sauvignon Blanc thrown in to really tune it towards modern tastes in white wine.
Elsewhere from their Chianti vineyards they have created a brand new wine that again follows the lines of modern, fruit-rich reds. The wine isContrada di San Felice(€12.99) and it began life as a local project that simply took off. The Contrada are districts or wards of Italian cities and each year in Tuscany the 17 Contrada of the city of Siena take part in the famous horse race the “Palio”. T his is followed by huge traditional banquets and it was these thatContrada di San Felicewas originally designed for.
However the wine was immediately a hit and literally sold out on the spot leaving San Felice to conclude that they had something really special on their hands.Contradais now the new star in their portfolio and offers a proper Tuscan wine experience at a low price but with none of the ‘bitter twists’ you get with cheap Chianti.
Speaking of Chianti there have been changes here too and althoughIl Grigiois untouchable – and frankly needs no change – the normalChianti Classico(€15.49) however has been re-shuffled to include 10% of Pugnitello.A grape San Felice have championed in the region. This adds a degree of richness and black fruit to the final wine, and that extra layer makes all the difference to the final blend.
So the next time you are looking for a good, modern Italian that won’t break the bank but will add a good degree of class to a meal then please do have look at San Felice’s new gems.