2014 San Felice, Il Grigio Gran Selezione, $49.75
Winery info: San Felice is based in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the southern part of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region. They have about 140 hectares of vineyards surrounding the medieval hamlet. In 1987 the University of Florence identified 278 distinct grape varieties in the region and planted an experimental vineyard at San Felice (the “Vitiarium”) with the goal of preserving Tuscany’s historic viticulture heritage. This wine includes some of those historic grapes. The Gran Selezione designation was created in 2013 to represent the pinnacle of quality in Chianti Classico. To earn this designation, wines must be made from a single vineyard (or a selection of an estate’s best parcels) and aging requirements are longer.
Grapes: 80% Sangiovese, plus Abrusco, Pugnitello, Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo, and Mazzese.
Vineyard: The best and oldest plots of their Chiesamonti, Colti, and Pianaccio vineyards (Sangiovese), plus their Vitiarium (for the remaining grapes).
Flavor Profile: A complex, elegant expression of the San Felice terroir, richly aromatic with notes of violets, spice, and toasty tobacco. It is smooth and medium-bodied, with firm structure, ripe tannins and vibrant acidity. The flavors of dark cherry, plums, and wild herbs evolve as the wine opens up.
Availability: The distributor still has some left, but it probably won’t last too long.
Drinkability: Enjoy now, with decanting, or over the next five years or so.
Food Pairing: Perfect with wild game or with roasted or grilled meats.
2016 Selbach Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese, 1-Star, $42
Winery info: Johannes Selbach is one of our favorite German producers. He is based in the Mosel Valley, with its steep, mostly south-facing slopes (thanks to the twists and turns of the river) so the vines get plenty of sun exposure, along with the sunlight and warmth reflected off the river. Importer Terry Theise says Selbach’s wines are in a class by themselves—quieter, deeper, “truer” than other, admittedly excellent, wines from the region. These are wines of great depth and balance from a master in the region.
Grapes: 100% Riesling, from the stellar 2016 vintage, which Theise raved about for two pages in his annual portfolio of German wines.
Vineyard: The Schlossberg Vineyard in the village of Zelting. It is an exceptional site in the Mosel Valley with blue Devonian slate soil.
Flavor Profile: In Terry’s words, this wine is: “the Edenic perfection of Schlossberg [vineyard] and an entirely magnificent yet vinous Auslese. It’s both absurdly elegant and shapely and strong… it feels culminated; it got to sing with its whole, full voice.”
Availability: We got the last case available, as far as we know.
Drinkability: Like any fabulous Riesling, this one should be great for a long time, perhaps up to 2030 if you can wait that long.
Food Pairing: Asian food, for sure. Or just savor it on its own.