There’s an old principle for buying wine that I like to remember because it rings true more often than not. It’s called “Producer over Vintage”. What this means is that when buying wine, if you choose a quality producer, the resulting wine will often be delicious, irrespective of the quality of the overall vintage. With the 2006, 2007, and 2009 vintages in Tuscany regarded as being outstanding, the 2008 vintage is going to get lost in the shuffle. That’s where this principle comes into play, and I relied upon it when I selected the subject of this post.
The Mazzei family has been making wine for generations in Tuscany. As the story relates, it was Ser Lapo Mazzei who recorded the first ever use of the word “Chianti” in written form. The label of the 2008 Ser Lapo tells the story: “On this 16th day of December 1398, 3 floria, 26 soldi and 8 denari shall be given to Piero di Tino di Riccio for 6 barrels of Chianti wine, the aforementioned we pay by written letter of Ser Lapo Mazzei.” It is in his honor that this Chianti Classico Riserva is named.
This wasn’t always the case, however. In 1995, Fonterutoli ceased production of Ser Lapo in favor of creating a new “Super Chianti Classico” simply called Castello di Fonterutoli. However, sometime around 2008, the Mazzei’s purchased the “Il Caggio” estate adjacent to their property and began harvesting Sangiovese in order to reinvent the Ser Lapo wine. That brings us to today, and this outstanding Chianti Classico Riserva.
The 2008 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Riserva Ser Lapo is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. I took the wine to a local Trattoria and immediately upon pouring it into the glass, was struck by the gorgeous purple color. Perhaps it’s the Merlot in the blend contributing to the color, but the darkness was striking to me. Continuous swirling in the glass easily lifted the wonderful aromas of this wine which is full of crushed berries, cherry, sweet tobacco, dried herbs and suede. In the mouth, the wine is medium to full bodied with beautiful fresh fruit flavors, sweet tobacco notes, an earthy component and a finish with a slight hint of black olive. The wine continued to open aromatically as the meal progressed and it also gained weight and increased viscosity to the mouthfeel. Wonderfully smooth and balanced. Simply, this may be the best 2008 I’ve tasted to date, and is clearly a wine worth stockpiling. The best part, it’s $17. Back up the truck. 92 points.
|2008 Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Riserva “Ser Lapo”|
April 26, 2012