The best of Tus­can wine from March­esi Mazzei.


Town & Country (Philippines) - - T & C - By Ali­cia Colby Sy

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.

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