Upper echelon Chianti Classico treated to first growth standards
The legendary Mazzei family produced a stunning Chianti Classico Gran Selezione in 2012. Italian wine expert Luca Gardini named “Best Sommelier in the World” rated the 2012 Castello di Fonterutoli 95 points and placed it on his widely publicized “World’s Best 50 Wines” list. Aged for 30 months prior to release, James Suckling was also impressed, lobbing 93 points and calling it a “big and juicy” Sangiovese. This Tuscan gem embodies the new Gran Selezione classification, treating estate fruit with the patient reverence of Brunello or First Growth Bordeaux. Enjoyable now with a good decant, it will reward and gain complexity over the next 5-8 years. Released at $60, Wine Access clients pay just a cool $39 per bottle.
The new Gran Selezione DOCG threshold puts the wines from the best growers in the Chianti Classico region into a top-level classification they deserve. Having earned a place as one of Tuscany’s preeminent producers over six centuries of winemaking, the Mazzei family could have been perfectly content with the status quo. But, tired of being upstaged by Brunello and eager to showcase the unique terroirs of their region, the Mazzeis and other stalwart Chianti Classico producers pushed for the new DOCG, and, in 2014, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione was approved. The resulting laws stipulate longer aging, higher ripeness requirements, and exclusive use of estate-grown grapes to distinguish only the top terroirs and wines.
Gran Selezione exceeds Riserva standards by requiring all-estate fruit, 13% minimum alcohol, and 30 months of aging (compared to 12.5% and 24 months for Riserva). Wines that meet those markers must then pass a stringent tasting panel to join the mere 8 or 9% of Chianti Classicos that earn the designation.
Blended from 50 plots on the Fonterutoli estate and aged for 30 months in small French oak and in bottle, the Castello Fonterutoli is rich, structured, and bursting with the telltale red cherry and dried-flower aromatics of prime Tuscan Sangiovese.
One of the best Chianti I have had. A winner!
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