If you Google Filippo Mazzei, the first hit that comes up is not from the Mazzei family in Tuscany, but from Wikipedia. If that doesn’t convey that Filippo’s world influence transcended oceans and continents, it should at least convey that he transcended wine.
Mazzei was born on Christimas Day, 1730, in Poggio a Caiano Tuscany. He studied medicine in Florence and became a practicing doctor before moving to London in 1755 to begin a career as an importer. While in London, he met the American founding fathers Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The three formed a bond and Jefferson, an avid wine drinker, encouraged Mazzei to import Tuscan goods, wine and olive trees to the New World. In 1773, Mazzei did just that and while visiting Jefferson at his estate, the two became life long friends. Jefferson gave Mazzei a sizeable plot of land and together, the two planted the first commercial vineyard in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It has been documented that the phrase “All men are created equal“, which was incorporated into the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, was paraphrased from the writings of Filippo Mazzei. Scholars try to discredit Mazzei as the creator of this founding idea, claiming that there is no mention of it anywhere until after the Declaration was published.
However, writings in Italian have been found documenting this phrase in Mazzei’s own hand which are dated several years prior to the penning of the Declaration of Independence. This pioneering sentiment was also referenced and quoted by John F. Kennedy in his acclaimed publication: A Nation of Immigrants.
From the Castello di Fonterutoli estate in Castellina in Chianti and the Belguardo estate in Maremma, the Mazzei family have chosen to create a special wine in Philips honor that memorializes his contribution to America’s lasting legacy and his friendship with Jefferson.
The 2013 Mazzei Philip is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vinified in stainless steel and aged in a combination of French and American oak, the Philip displays a bright, dark purple color that exudes some violet highlights.
On the nose, the style of the wine becomes evident as a sort of Italo-American hybrid version of Cabernet. Aromas of ground coffee, vanilla, black plums and fresh herbs grace the nose. On the palate, the wine is refined and elegant. Flavors of black plums, tobacco, stones and ripe bell pepper present a unique picture; almost like Napa meets Tuscany. Full bodied with silky tannins and a medium length finish that is fresh and lively. I think in the best vintages (2015 for example) this wine may really be a star. A solid effort for 2013. 90 points. About $35. Find this wine.