San Felice is a medieval borgo, or hamlet, in Castelnuovo Berardenga, in the heart of Italy’s Chianti Classico area. Lovingly restored from its eighth-century origins, San Felice has been transformed into one of Tuscany’s truly unique lodgings. The borgo is the heart of an estate that covers 650 hectares, with over 150 dedicated to premium vineyards and 16,000 olive trees. I am excited to take you behind the scenes of this wonderful borgo to explore the nature of creativity and innovation in the world of Italian wines.
Immersed in beautiful, vine-covered countryside, near the historic and picturesque city Siena, San Felice is built within a medieval hamlet. The hamlet includes a centuries-old chapel, cellars, a palace that belonged to the owners of the village, Chianti vineyards and a five star hotel. San Felice has incredible history- the powerful bishops of Siena and Arezzo arrived at the borgo in 714 to dispute the control of the Church of San Felice.
For decades, San Felice has been recognized as one of the truly exceptional and influential producers in Italy. Its renown is closely linked to its Chianti Classico wine and to its epoch-making Vigorello. This wine represented the very first step, which was considered very courageous at the time, towards a new generation of wines called SuperTuscans. San Felice’s respect for tradition is combined with rigorous research and viticultural innovation. The winery works in collaboration with the University of Florence to develop of the potential of the Sangiovese variety.
San Felice’s wine Il Grigio embodies to the fullest degree the qualities of Sangiovese as they are expressed in the unique terroir found at San Felice. The label shows Il Grigio, the legendary knight who fought alongside the Sienese troops. Titian’s famous portrait, Man in Armour, was selected as a worthy face for this hero. The knight symbolizes the noble breed of this wine, a chianti Classico Riserva produced from the estate’s best Sangiovese grapes.
During our wine tasting, we sampled San Felice’s wines followed by an incredible tuscan feast of savoury cheeses, prosciutto, breads and pasta. We had an educational, behind-the-scenes look at the work that’s been taking place in San Felice’s vineyards. Lots of time, effort, and great educational information was provided during our tasting. It was incredible to meet a winemaker that really knows how to produce such outstanding wines.Bravo!
Leonardo Bellaccini is the winemaker who nourishes the soul of San Felice. Siena-born, he received his degree there in Viticulture and Oenology at the Istituto Superiore, then interned in France (Bordeaux) and in Switzerland (Zion).After winning a scholarship from the Consorzio del Chianti Classico, he joined San Felice and quickly became its oenologist, responsible for quality of both its wines and its olive oils.
Inquisitive, creative, and always ready for new challenges, Bellaccini is currently working on a red wine produced from the pugnitello grape, a project that promises to yield truly surprising results. His interests range from winemaking to fine food, so much so that he was admitted as a member ad honorem of the prestigious Accademia della Cucina Italiana.A highlight was the incredible Brunello di Montalcino di Campogiavanni from San Felice Estate that won the 4th place in the Top 100 by the Wine Spectator for 2011. We finished off our Brunello tasting with dark chocolate, salty almonds and incredible bread and a sampling of San Felice’s olive oil that is produced by Azienda Agricola San Felice.The soul of a wine-producing company is, naturally, its winemaker.
San Felice is a magical place with great people and wonderful wines! San Felice and its wonderful staff welcome you- are you ready to try some great wines?