The best of Tuscan wine from Marchesi Mazzei.
SIX HUNDRED YEARS OF EXPERIENCE HAS GIVEN THE MAZZEI FAMILY THE UPPER HAND IN TUSCAN WINE MAKING.
For over six centuries, and with its lineage spanning 24 generations, Marchesi Mazzei has been one of most respected names in Italian wine. With vineyards in Chianti and Maremma in Tuscany, and in Sicily, the family traces its wine producing roots back to the 14th century, when ancestor Ser Lapo Mazzei, a government notary, first used the term Chianti in an official document to denote a particular region of wine production. Since then, Ser Lapo has been known as the “Father” of the beloved sangiovese-made wine, Chianti Classico, and the Mazzei family one of its finest producers.
Founded in 1435, Castello di Fonterutoli in the Chianti region is the family’s flagship estate. The large 650-hectare hamlet set just outside Castellina dedicates 117 hectares to grape-producing vineyards for winemaking. These vineyards have been further organized into five zones of 120 single parcels and are planted with 36 biotypes of Sangiovese along with merlot, cabernet sauvignon, colorino, and malvasia nera. It is here at Castello di Fonterutoli where several of the family’s iconic wines are produced, including the estate Chianti Classico Gran Selezion, Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva, Fonterutoli Chianti i Classico, and the pioneering Super Tuscan, Siepi.
Underneath the Castello estate is the 10,000-square-meter, state-of-the-art winery designed by family member and architect, Agnese Mazzei. Built over four years into the rocky hillside, the winery prides itself in using sustainable energy sources and is equipped with a gravitational flow delivery system that manages the movement of grapes to juice to wine in the vinification process, eliminating the need for any electrical pumping. At the very bottom of the structure, 15 meters below the surface, lies the barrel cellar where the wines are aged and stored. Both the cellar’s temperature and humidity are naturally controlled by five water streams that flow through its rock walls and therefore dispenses the need for any air-conditioning.
With approximately 350,000 bottles produced each year, the elegant and spicy Fonterutoli Chianti Classico is aged 12 months and is a perfect accompaniment for grilled meats and dark pasta sauces. The Gran Selizione DOCG, a blend of 92 percent Sangiovese and 8 percent Malvasia Nera and Colorio, is aged for 20 months in French oak barrels and is characterized by a balance of fruit, tannins, and minerality. It is a well-structured and complex wine that can be easily paired with game, stews, truffles, and aged cheese.
Also of note is the estate’s special bottling called Philip. A full-bodied wine made from 100 percent cabernet sauvignon grapes from both the Chianti and Maremma vineyards, this wine is dedicated to Filippo Mazzei, one of the more illustrious Mazzei ancestors. In the mid-1700s, Filippo, a viticulturist and wine merchant, met American patriot Benjamin Franklin while traveling through London and soon made friends with fellow wine enthusiast Thomas Jefferson. It was Jefferson who convinced Mazzei to move to Virginia to plant grapes from the Mazzei Tuscan cuttings. Jefferson gave Mazzei 193 acres of the Jefferson estate in Monticello and in partnership with both Jefferson and George Washington, Mazzei founded the Virginia Wine Company.
In addition to his contribution to American winemaking, Filippo is also credited with being an ally of the American Revolution’s patriots. “The great doctrine ‘All men are created equal,’ incorporated into the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, was paraphrased from the writing of Philip Mazzei, an Italian-born patriot...a close friend of Jefferson’s,” wrote John F. Kennedy in his book, A Nation of Immigrants.
Proclaimed by Italian culinary organization Gambero Rosso “as one of the 50 wines that changed Italy’s wine style,” Mazzei’s super Tuscan, Siepi, is a blend of sangiovese and merlot grown on the best, more mature parcels of the estate’s vineyards. The exact proportion of the blend is determined annually and is dependent on how the fruit manages against the elements throughout the season. First made in the early ’80s, Mazzei believed that merlot’s richness and roundness would complement Sangiovese’s acidity. The wine is aged in French barrels made from Allier oak while the duration of the aging is determined from vintage to vintage. A wine with great aging potential, bottles of Siepi should hold well over 20 years and pair nicely with highly flavorful and textured dishes. Premium Wine Exchange, Alegria Alta Building, 2294 Chino Roces Extension, Makati; 812.3823.
REAL VISIoN clockwise: A Mazzei vineyard; a few of its esteemed bottles; the Mazzei family.