2008 Mazzei Cabernet Sauvignon "Philip" Toscana
 
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Mazzei Family Vineyards July 4, 2013

It's been one of the most talked-about stories of the Tuscan underground over the last decade. When word first spread that the owners of storied Castello di Fonterutoli had resolved to craft a tiny-production Cabernet Sauvignon, few questioned the potential of the project.

But as the years passed and that Cabernet never saw the light of day, some wondered if the underground hadn't been duped, or that, perhaps, the project had simply been abandoned. Then, three years ago, we learned that Francesco Mazzei had engaged Carlo Ferrini, challenging the Winemaker of the Year to assemble the mystery Cabernet, and that Ferrini was purportedly stunned by the "quality of the material."

Now, almost 13 years since the Super Tuscan plan was drawn up -- on July 4th -- the Mazzeis have finally released one of the most stunning Tuscan bottles we've tasted in years, an extravagantly concentrated, luscious Ferrini-authored Cabernet Sauvignon that's poised to take its spot next to 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 call it 'Philip'."

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 Virginian landowner and wine lover. On horseback, the southerner took Philip on a tour of his 198-acre property situated 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 found his attachment to Monticello, Virginia, and America was too strong. 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" is drawn from two experimental Cabernet Sauvignon patches, one set on the cold soil hillsides of Fonterutoli, the other from a single, sun-drenched perch on the coast at the Mazzei's Belguardo. Farmed not just meticulously -- but almost pathologically -- trimming back yields aggressively so as to push physiological maturity to the limit, just two pounds of small berry clusters would be harvested from each plant 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.

Deep purple to the edge, with luscious, bright aromas of black fruits and violets, tinged with sweet Tuscan herbs, laced with new wood cedar. Rich, broad and voluptuous on the almost Napa-like attack, silken in texture, the core is packed with crushed black fruit compote, all the opulence still braced by slightly rustic Tuscan tannins.

Word of the upcoming release of "Philip" wasn't lost on Wine Spectator or Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Both Bruce Sanderson, a long time Fonterutoli aficionado, and RP have come calling, and according to Francesco Mazzei, those reviews, now almost 13 years in the making, will carve out a new slot on the Super Tuscan honor roll.



Tasting Notes

2008 Mazzei Cabernet Sauvignon "Philip" Toscana
"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, the core is packed with crushed black fruit compote, all the opulence bracketed by faintly rustic, Tuscan tannins. Drink now for its primary fruit Hedonism or lay down for a decade or two in the coolest of cellars."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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