Mazzei Chianti Classico Riserva Ser Lapo 2012
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For 26 generations, the Mazzei family has been producing benchmark Italian wines from their historic Castello di Fonterutoli estate in Tuscany and more recently in the Maremma, Sicily and the Veneto. The passion, commitment and expertise that goes into these expressive wines is a reflection of the Mazzei’s spirit of innovation and respect for each property’s unique terroir.
Since the 1400’s the Mazzei’s have been producing wine; making it one of the oldest running Italian companies - of any kind! Their ancestry is closely woven not only into Tuscany’s winemaking history, but as well as to this venerated region’s political and cultural past. The notable merchant, Ser Lapo Mazzei, is credited for authoring the first official document mentioning “Chianti wine” (December 16, 1398). Years later, Philip Mazzei, winemaker, political thinker and friend of Thomas Jefferson, is credited for influencing another historic document, whose philosophical writings on equality of man served as inspiration for the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Four beautiful properties make up the Mazzei portfolio. Castello di Fonterutoli in historic Chianti Classico, Tuscany remains the historic home of Mazzei. An enthusiasm for discovery has led to the purchase of Belguardo in the Maremma, which borders the Tuscan coast and Zisola in Noto, Sicily. Giovanni Mazzei has recently taken over his family’s estate, Villa Marcello, in the Veneto, For six generations the Mazzei property at Castello di Fonterutoli has been family-owned and operated; which is also the case since the establishment of Belguardo, Zisola and Villa Marcello. Lapo Mazzei manages as Chairman, along with his sons Filippo and Francesco, both CEOs. The newest generation, Giovanni Mazzei, represents the 26th generation, poised to continue in the family’s footsteps of producing innovative and expressive wines from Central Tuscany, the Maremma, Sicily and the Veneto.
One of the first wine regions anywhere to be officially recognized and delimited, Chianti Classico is today what was originally defined simply as Chianti. Already identified by the early 18th century as a superior zone, the official name of Chianti was proclaimed upon the area surrounding the townships of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole, just north of Siena, by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany in an official decree in 1716.
However, by the 1930s the Italian government had appended this historic zone with additonal land in order to capitalize on the Chianti name. It wasn’t until 1996 that Chianti Classico became autonomous once again when the government granted a separate DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) to its borders. Ever since, Chianti Classico considers itself no longer a subzone of Chianti.
Many Classicos are today made of 100% Sangiovese but can include up to 20% of other approved varieties grown within the Classico borders. The best Classicos will have a bright acidity, supple tannins and be full-bodied with plenty of ripe fruit (plums, black cherry, blackberry). Also common among the best Classicos are expressive notes of cedar, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic or tobacco.
The perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is among Italy's elite red grape varieties and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino
Elsewhere throughout Italy, Sangiovese plays an important role in many easy-drinking, value-driven red blends and on the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed success growing in California and Washington.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with qualities of tart cherry, plum, sun dried tomato, fresh tobacco and herbs. High-quality, well-aged examples can take on tertiary notes of smoke, leather, game, potpourri and dried fruit. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine-grained tannins create a perfect symbiosis with tomato-based dishes, braised vegetables, roasted and cured meat, hard cheese and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may actually contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines as a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.