~ Castello di Fonterutoli is not just the Chianti home of the Mazzei family, but a small hamlet unto itself ~

I’ve opined many times that wines tell a story and many of those are replete with historical significance, if not outright hyperbole. The legend of today’s article can be traced, at least in part, to the 13th century.

In the year 1208 Fonterutoli was the location of two peace treaties between Florence and Siena, the result of which ceded the territory of Chianti to Florence.  The legend prevails that at the beginning of the 13th century the two cities, torn by the war over Chianti, decided to assign the definition of Chianti’s border to the meeting point between two knights; each departing from their city at cockcrow. The Florentines relied on a black rooster, which having been deliberately left without food, crowed well before daybreak.  This allowed the knight from Florence to start with a great advantage and travel a long way before meeting precisely at Fonterutoli, almost within sight of Siena.  As a result, Florence brought its border to Fonterutoli on the line of Castellina, Radda, and Gaiole thereby establishing the Military and Administrative Alliance of Chianti.  They then immortalized the Gallo Nero, choosing the Black Rooster as its shield.

~ Castello di Fonterutoli ~

But the yarn continues to unfold from there.  Documents that pre-date the 1400’s indicate that it was Ser Lapo Mazzei who recorded the first ever use of the word “Chianti” in written form.

“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.”

Thus, the subject of today’s article was created in his honor.

~ The soils from Mazzei’s vineyards in Castellina reflect the traditional Tuscan Alberese ~

The 2009 Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva hails from vineyards in Castellina in Chianti.  A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot, the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then refined in French barrique for 12 months, 50% of which are new.

The wine displays a deep ruby color with vibrant violet highlights that yield penetrating aromas of crushed wild berry, sweet pipe tobacco, fresh herbs and anise seed. I love how this smells.   On the palate,  the marriage of Sangiovese and Merlot is impressive. Deftly balanced, the flavors of espresso, spice, crushed berry and plums are silky, elegant, juicy and concentrated.  There is nothing not to like here.  As an important aside:  This wine appeared very lean and almost “thin” upon opening so we took care to decant it for 60 minutes before dinner. It plumped up significantly and in fact, it was a dramatic change.  Take to time to do so and plan accordingly.  92 points.  An amazing value at about $19 upon release. Current vintages are a tad more.   Find this wine.

~ An absolutely wonderful example of Castellina terroir ~


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