Irony would have it that one of Chianti's oldest estates (an ancestor of the Mazzei family drafted what is believed to be the first official document containing the word Chianti) is also one of the area's most modern operations, in the process of building a huge space-age cellar and making very inky, concentrated wines. Francesco Mazzei laughs at this observation: "Yes, perhaps we overdid it a little with the intensity of color, but keep in mind that ten years ago ruby-red wines seemed to be going the way of the saber-toothed tiger." Fonterutoli is not just a wine estate but a beautiful medieval village surrounded by vineyards-a postcard rendition of what foreigners imagine Chianti countryside to look like.
($15; a blend of mainly sangiovese and other grapes) Good ruby-red. Aromas of geranium, violet, coffee, and caramel oak are pretty but lack depth. Sweet and supple on the palate, with a smooth texture. This uncomplicated wine is very easy to enjoy.
($25) Dark ruby. Much fresher nose than the Badiola, showing intriguing aromas of dark cherry, espresso and smoked meat. Displays a darker fruit quality than many other Chiantis, with prune, coffee and dark tobacco flavors and a pleasantly salty quality. Finishes clean and ripely tannic, showing more oaky torrefaction than the basic bottling as well.
($54) Saturated dark ruby. Cassis, blueberry, and hints of bitter chocolate and minerals on the nose. Boasts a texture like liquid silk, but surprising acidity gives a light touch to the concentrated flavors of strawberry and blueberry. Finishes long and pure, with extremely ripe tannins. Less heavyhanded than several previous vintages of this wine, which were distinctly black, sweet and chewy. Made from a blend of seven different sangiovese clones.
($100; a merlot/sangiovese blend) Saturated black-ruby. Typical Siepi nose of black plum, black pepper, espresso and vanilla-caramel oak. More dark chocolate and coffee in the mouth, with a sweetening influence of ripe black cherry. Fat, layered and finely tannic. A bit more acid spine might have given this more detail, but it ranks as one of the more refined Siepis I remember at a similar stage of development. (Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL)