It’s been a busy fortnight in the ‘BI Events’ calendar kicking off last Wednesday evening with a fantastic celebration of the Mazzei family’s wines, specifically those of Siepi, Castello di Fonterutoli’s flagship label, for a private dinner with 25th Generation owner of the estate, Giovanni Mazzei.
For this particular event there was no debate over the venue since Giovanni married into the Boglione family, owners of the renowned Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. Together with his wife Lara Boglione (managing director), Giovanni expanded their empire to include wine club The Petersham Cellar in 2013, followed in May by The Petersham – a new restaurant in Covent Garden. There was simply no place more fitting than the beautiful private dining room within The Petersham restaurant to host 30 Sangiovese-savvy BI clients. The food was to-the-minute seasonal and the perfect match for the Siepi wines (not surprising given that Giovanni’s vinous expertise is now deeply embedded within Petersham’s thinking).
We kicked off with a glass or two of Louis Roederer Vintage Brut 2009 which prepared the palate perfectly for what was to follow…
And so to the main event… Siepi’s inaugural vintage was 1992 and it has been considered amongst the most consistently successful modern Tuscan wines ever since. The wines are a perfect 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Merlot harvested from the best 6ha planted in the vineyard. As was reiterated last Wednesday, these are wines of power, complexity and elegance that show off the beauty of the historic terroir. With the first vintage being relatively young considering the history behind the estate, we were privileged to be able to try a rather healthy cross-section of Siepi’s vintages from 1999 to 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2015 and finally the pre-release 2016.
They all panned out exceptionally well but here were a few favourites:
Possibly what surprised (delighted?) me the most here was the 2015’s readiness to drink now. Yes it could certainly take another ten years or so in bottle but stylistically a wonderful wine to drink now, particularly with our appetizer course of crab and tomato bruschetta. It has intense acidity and fruit with many textural layers and a lengthy, lengthy finish. It is almost new world in style but is undoubtedly Tuscan in spirit; this certainly set a precedent for the wines which followed…96pts
For many, this was the most hotly anticipated wine of the evening with mid-high 90s scores across the board from the critics. Notably Monica Larner in the Wine Advocate described it as ‘a knockout wine’ and awarded it 95+ points. It is always a worry, then, that such lauded wines may not do themselves justice on the night. We needn’t have worried. The 2013 was, again, beautifully fresh with the acidity which proved the perfect match for our main course of slow cooked lamb shoulder, Datterini tomatoes and asparagus with Amalfi lemon. The Merlot was rather more evident here adding richness and a softening touch. This will no doubt perform even more exceptionally over the next few years as it gains slightly more bottle age. 95pts
The 1999 was a fantastic demonstration of the age-worthiness of Fonterutoli’s flagship wine. Perhaps what struck me most here was how youthful this wine tasted. In fact, if tasted blind I think I would struggle to guess it had an additional 16 years of bottle age from the 2015. Still delightfully fresh and fruit driven with perhaps the longest finish of the evening. When compared with the younger vintages especially, say, the 2007, it perhaps wasn’t quite as voluptuous but delicious nonetheless and a really interesting wine to finish on. 94pts
Thank you very much to Giovanni for a wonderful and insightful evening, not to mention some terrific wines, and to Lara and the team at Petersham Nurseries for hosting us in such a beautiful setting and looking after us so well.