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!
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