Many people know the name Mazzei. When it comes to sheer history, there aren’t many producers who can rival the story of the company, which has been in existence since the 15th century.
However, what many people don’t know is that the company owns a number of estates all over Italy, each of which produces some truly stunning wines that are shining examples of why the company has been able to survive and thrive for as long as it has.
Here we will be digging into a little bit of the history behind the company, before examining the Castello Di Fonterutoli estate in more detail to find out what it brings to the table.
The history of the Mazzei ancestors is deep and extends far beyond the winemaking sphere. The company can actually trace its root back to the 11th century, even though it was officially founded in 1435.
The patriarch of the family was Ser Lapo Mazzei, who is known to experienced connoisseurs as the man who authored the first document that made reference to the Chianti denomination. That document came out in 1398, but it was in 1435 that his granddaughter, Madonna Esmeralda Mazzei, would marry Piero di Agnolo de Fonterutoli and the company would begin working in earnest. Afetr 24 generations, the Mazzei family still produces wines at its main estate, Castello di Fonterutoli.
Before we talk more about this estate, it is worth looking deeper into the history of another prominent figure from the family’s history. Filippo Mazzei is the man that many consider responsible for helping the company make a name for itself outside of Italy and he considered himself to be a “Citizen of the World” in addition to a native of Tuscany.
This remarkable man grew close to some of the founding fathers of the United States, including Benjamin Franklin, Douglas Adams, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. In fact, Jefferson also tasked him with introducing the art of vine growing and viticulture to Virginia, meaning Philip is at least partly responsible for the creation of the American wine industry.
However, his most impressive achievement was creating a quote that would later go on to define Thomas Jefferson. You may have heard of Jefferson once saying the following: “All men are by nature equally free and independent. Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government.”
What many do not know is that this quote was paraphrased from the writings of Filippo Mazzei, as confirmed by John F. Kennedy in his own tome “A Nation of Immigrants”.
This action alone was so important that the United States commemorated with a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in 1980 in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the nation. No other wine company can lay claim to having such an inspirational and important figure in their ranks as Mazzei can with Filippo Mazzei.
Now while that is all extremely interesting, let’s now get back into the wine groove and take a look at the estate that has served the company so well since 1435.
The Castello Di Fonterutoli estate is located in a gorgeous little hamlet that is considered to be something of an old bastion of Florence. Located only a few miles from Castellina, the estate offers an amazing view of Siena and has been owned by the family for centuries. In fact, it is so ancient that its history, and even some of the vines that grow on the estate, can be traced right back to the founding of the company. In many ways, time stopped in the hamlet in the Middle Ages and any of the old ruins and structures from that era can still be found there if you pay it a visit.
As for the vineyards, they are characterised by a rather unique soil that brings together Alberese and sandstone rock to create a unique composition that can’t be found anywhere else. This, of course, lends the wines that are grown on the estate a certain flavour that also cannot be emulated.
What is most interesting is that this and was once considered barren and rocky thanks to that soil. However, the wisdom of the family had a transformative effect and this allowed for the land to serve up a bounty of grapes that have been used to create some of the greatest wines to come from the region.
Overall, the estate covers a rather remarkable 650 hectares, with 117 being used for vineyards. The land is also used to grow olives, for the company’s olive oil, and lavender that is used in a variety of cosmetic products.
The 117 hectares that are used for grapes are divided into 120 parcels, each of which is cultivated to be in perfect harmony with the land around it. Each of the grapes grown in these parcels is harvested by hand and each parcel’s product is transformed into wine and aged separately from the others to create a rather remarkable diversity.
With that being said, let’s now examine one of the best wines to come from the company.
Of all of the wines that are produced at the estate, it is the Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva that likely has the strongest reputation. Named after the man who made the first mention of the appellation way back in the 14th century, Mazzei places special attention into this vintage each year to ensure that it lives up to the reputation of a man who meant so much to the industry.
As you may expect, the wine has a powerful, red ruby colouring that pulls the drinker in before the bottle is opened. A powerful bouquet that highlights the unique composition of the land will greet the drinker when the wine is poured and none of that power is lost when introduced to the palette. The wine is refined, well-balanced and offers just the right combination of flavours to be both complex and a joy to consume.