Castello di Fonterutoli Siepi has true pedigree; it is the flagship wine of the Mazzei family, who are one of the most important wine making families in Tuscany. Their single vineyard Siepi is a wine for those in the know and the 2010 vintage is arguably their greatest ever effort, scoring 95 points from the Wine Advocate and 94 points from James Suckling and Antonio Galloni. Siepi beautifully synthesises Tuscan tradition, embodied through the use of 50% Sangiovese, combined with 50% of the international grape variety Merlot, thereby becoming a true ‘Super Tuscan’ wine, taking the best from both worlds. Siepi possesses a powerful structure, which as Monica Larner says, has a ‘ towering intensity and opulent aromas of spice, leather and chocolate covered cherry.’

It is the combination of painstaking viti- and viniculture and the addition of Merlot that distinguishes this wine from other leading estates in Tuscany. At £215 for a case of six bottles or £36 a bottle, Siepi offers incredible quality, yet is more competitively priced than its peer Tignanello. Moreover, while over 30,000 cases a year of Tignanello is produced, Siepi only produces 1,600. If you have never tried Siepi before you will be very impressed and the 2010 is certainly the vintage to start your collection. Moreover, they have completely sold out at the Estate. Mazzei are also the family responsible for the very popular Sicilian wine Zisola, a wine we adore.

Today the family remain a powerhouse and recently undertook the building of an incredibly impressive amphitheatre shaped winery, designed to mimic an orchestra, each musician playing a different instrument, reflecting the notes and harmony of their wines. Taken together their Tuscan wines are consistently some of the highest scoring of the entire region and Siepi is the epitome of their ‘no expense spared’ wine-making. Siepi spends 18 months in 225 litre French oak barrique (70% new). The outcome is a wine that is powerful, complex and balanced, with wonderful notes of sour cherry, violets, chocolate, which with age takes on wonderful notes of mushroom, leather and cigar box.

The first vintage of Siepi was in 1992, although the vineyard dates back to the 15th Century, making it some of the oldest terroir in Tuscany. The vineyard is fully organic, faces south west and boasts the all important Galastro, limestone, clay and Alberese, a wonderful balanced texture that maximises the Sangiovese and Merlot ripeness. The vineyard is located near the village of Fonterutoli, which the Mazzei family have owned for 24 generations. The village is of historical importance, containing an Etruscan Acropolis, later it became a final frontier on a Roman road and then the border between Firenze and Sienna during the height of their hostilities.

The Mazzei family are woven in the fabric of Tuscan wine-making and political history. The first document that names the Mazzei family in relation to wine-making dates back to the 11th Century. Ser Lapo Mazzei (1350-1412) was a winemaker and notary and is accredited with being the ‘father’ of the name Chianti. Filippo Mazzei (1730-1816) who was a progressive thinker, intellectual and scholar, became a close friend of Thomas Jefferson. He was asked by Jefferson to bring Italian wine-making to Monticello, Virginia and he duly obliged, going on to plant the first vineyards in that part of the new world. ‘I thank you for your obliging act of the culture of the wine, and I am happy to hear that your plantation of them is in so prosperous a way” (George Washington, 1 July, 1779). His impact, however, extends beyond this; Filippo remained in the US for many years and his ideas regarding equality struck Jefferson, from where he drew inspiration for one of the founding principles of the Declaration of Independence, ‘All men are created equal’. As such Filippo is considered an American patriot!

Mazzei Siepi 2010, 6×75 – £215 IB or £272.76 incl duty and VAT
Monica Larner, Wine Advocate, 95 Points
The 2010 Siepi is a monumental wine with towering intensity and opulent aromas of spice, leather and chocolate covered cherry. The texture of this hearty 50-50 blend of Sangiovese and Merlot is infinitely soft and supple. There are many big-boned wines from Italy that can compare to Siepi, but ultimately this wine is distinguished by its own, unique personality. Drink 2015-2030.

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