2008 Mazzei Cabernet Sauvignon "Philip" Toscana
Expert Rating
JS 94 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Mazzei Family Vineyards Fonterutoli's 94pt Cabernet Sauvignon Super Tuscan

When word first leaked out that the owners of storied Castello di Fonterutoli were making a tiny-production Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon, few questioned the potential of the project. But as the years passed, the project seemed to have stalled, or perhaps been abandoned. Then several years back, another rumor surfaced that Francesco Mazzei had engaged Carlo Ferrini, challenging the Winemaker of the Year to assemble the mystery Cabernet. Ferrini was purportedly stunned by the "quality of the material."

Almost 13 years since the Super Tuscan plan was drawn up, on July 4th, 2013, the Mazzeis finally released one of the most stunning Tuscan bottles we've tasted in years, an extravagantly concentrated, Ferrini-authored Cabernet Sauvignon that's poised to take its spot alongside Sassicaia, Tignanello, Solaia and Ornellaia on the Super Tuscan honor roll.

"When we were kids," Francesco told us in the chilly catacombs beneath the ancient castle of Fonterutoli, "all of us were told the story of Philip Mazzei. It was like a rite of passage, an inspiration. It not only made us feel proud to be part of our family, it made us understand that we needed to take risks in life and in the vines, but that if we did, despite hardships, we would succeed. That's really the story of this wine. That's why we named it after him."

Philip Mazzei was a Renaissance man, a Florentine merchant, surgeon and horticulturalist. In 1773, just three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Mazzei sailed to America, where he quickly fell in love with the New World spirit.

In 1774, Mazzei was introduced to a Virginia landowner and wine lover. On horseback, the southerner took Philip on a tour of his 198-acre property on the south side of his plantation. A few months later, the Tuscan immigrant planted Monticello to vines. When war broke out, Philip Mazzei considered returning to Tuscany, but had become too attached to the American spirit. Instead of sailing home, Mazzei picked up a gun and joined the American Revolutionary War effort, fighting the British alongside his new friend Thomas Jefferson.

Carlo Ferrini's 2008 "Philip," like its namesake, calls two places home. It is drawn from two experimental Cabernet Sauvignon patches in Tuscany: one set on the cold soil hillsides of Fonterutoli; the other from a single, sun-drenched perch on the coast at the Mazzeis' Belguardo estate. Fonterutoli pushed physiological maturity to the limit, farming meticulously to Napa-like protocol and harvesting just 2 pounds of small-berry clusters per acre in October 2008! The Fonterutoli Cabernet Sauvignon, Ferrini says, provides the aromatic fireworks, the broad shoulders, and the stunning Super Tuscan length, while the warmer coastal site offers up Napa-like concentration, sumptuous texture and muscled backbone.

Dark ruby/purple to the edge with luscious aromas of black fruits and violets, tinged with sweet Tuscan herbs and white pepper, laced with new-wood cedar. Rich, broad and voluptuous on the almost Napa-like attack, silken in texture, packed with crushed-black-fruit preserves, all the plush opulence bracketed by dusty Tuscan tannins.

A WHOPPING 94 points from longtime Wine Spectator Italian wine expert James Suckling (see below).

Tasting Notes

2008 Mazzei Cabernet Sauvignon "Philip" Toscana
"Beautiful aromas of blackberries and wet earth follow through to a full body with velvety tannins and a long finish. Velvety and slightly austere tannins. A Bordeaux blend in homage to Philip Mazzei, who helped the late US president Thomas Jefferson to establish his vineyard in the state of Virginia. It's made from various vineyards of the Mazzei family in Tuscany. Four to five years of bottle age will put this just right. Enjoy."
94 points -- James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

 

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