It’s hard to argue with Mazzei and it’s hard to argue with Ser Lapo. This wine, this humble Chianti Classico Riserva, is somehow still below the radar of many wine lovers. Yet, as I write this, I would argue that it’s a must buy in every vintage and the better vintages should be deeper in your cellar.
In a time when every producer, Castello di Fonterutoli included, is elevating the production and stature of their Gran Selezione, Ser Lapo remains a high quality wine with the ability to drink well young and also improve with cellaring. It’s a combination few wines at the price point possess. And it’s a very attractive price point.
Fonterutoli, like much of Tuscany, is steeped in ancient history. The area was known to both the Romans and the Etruscans who called it “Fons Rutolae”, meaning “clear spring”; a place to obtain wonderful water laced with nutrient rich limestone deposits. Today, that limestone imparts itself into the estate’s wines.
An icon of the property, Ser Lapo Mazzei was one of the earliest people to record the name “Chianti” in writing. Here, in the year 1398, he mentions in his manuscripts: “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 from the hand of Ser Lapo Mazzei.”
Last October, I wrote about the 2018 Ser Lapo from a pre-release sample I received. 2018 had its difficulties but Mazzei still crafted an enjoyable wine worthy of the Cru name. Today’s example is even more special.
The 2016 Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva is simply put, a wonderful wine. Deep ruby in the glass, we did not decant the wine. No matter. Wonderful aromas of crushed cherry, fresh tobacco leaf, toasted spices and fresh herbs/floral notes float from the glass. On the palate, the wine is silky with sweet ripe crushed cherry, trace minerality and soft new leather. It’s really beautiful. Persistent, juicy and fresh, the wine melted seamlessly alongside ravioli with my Bolognese. Apart from the food, the tannins were a bit assertive. That’s not a negative at all – because I see it as a component needed for aging as the balance is there. Delicious now, it will be interesting to cellar this for up to 10 years. I bought quite a few directly from the property. As a result, I hope to be able to restrain myself for partaking more. Do yourself a favor and find some. 93 points. Great value, around $25. Find this wine.