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Mazzei focuses on Chianti Classico sub-regions with new range

Tuscan wine estate Mazzei has launched a three-bottle gran selezione range in anticipation of new regulations within the Chianti Classico region, which could see a greater focus placed on sub-regions.

Speaking to the drinks business, Francesco Mazzei, managing director the Italian producer, said the new range would make it easier for consumers to understand which part of the region the wine came from.

“Our estate is pretty big, totaling around 650ha,” he said. “We wanted to address our communication with this new range of gran seleziones, clearly showing that each wine comes from a different municipality: one from Castellina, another from Castelnuovo Berardenga and one from Radda.”

Mazzei explained that the Chianti Classico consorzio was currently exploring a move to “more geographic categories”, which could see such municipalities allowed to be included on the label and be used in conjunction with recognised and defined terms, such as gran selezione.

Officially introduced in 2013 by the Chianti Classico consorzio, the gran selezione category stipulates that the grapes used must come from a single vineyard or an estate owned by the producer, and be aged for a minimum of 30 months prior to release.

Mazzei anticipates that the change will occur in the next three to four years, adding: “The Chianti Classico region is very diverse in terms of its altitude, soils, and climate. The idea is to give more specification to different areas. That is why, in the future, we could see a gran selezione category in Greve, Gaiole and Castellina.”

He is in favour of the change, believing it to be the path the region must take. “Chianti Classico is totally undervalued at the moment, but there is great potential to do better,” he said.

Mazzei has made its Fonterutoli Gran Selezione for many years. The other two wines in the range – Vicoregio36 and Badiòla – are more recent additions.

Vicoregio36, which is made in the Castelnuovo Berardenga municipality, was formerly an IGT wine called Mix 36, a reference to the 36 biotypes (18 clones and 18 massal selections) of Sangiovese planted in the vineyard.

Francesco Mazzei

Badiòla, which hails from Radda, is an entirely new wine. At an altitude of 570 metres above sea level, it is the highest point in Mazzei’s estate, and Francesco Mazzei believes this can be tasted in the wine.

“30 years ago it would have been a dream to plant vines at this altitude and achieve great results,” he said. “Nowadays, we’re seeing that with climate and more expertise in terms of clonal selection, you can plant a late ripening variety like Sangiovese at higher altitude.”

Harvest can be up to a month apart, with the grapes harvested at the Vicoregio vineyard in mid-September, and Badiòla in mid-October.

In terms of ageing, all wines spend time in 500-litre tonneaux. Mazzei explained that the majority of the barrels used hail from Burgundy because there is “no doubt” that Sangiovese is “closer or more similar to Pinot Noir than to Cabernet and Merlot”.

“You don’t need big or heavily toasted oak, Sangiovese needs something more refined, something that can fit with Pinot Noir,” he said.

Post oak-ageing, the wines all spend several months in concrete, before being bottled.

All hailing from the 2017 vintage, the estate has made around 8,000 bottles each of the Vicoregio and Fonterutoli, while smaller volumes (around 3,000 bottles) have been made of the Badiòla, which as a result, will largely be confined to the domestic market. The other two gran seleziones will be distributed to more than 60 markets in which Mazzei is present.

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