12 maggio 2016

Dal Web

Mazzei brings Siepi luxury Chianti Classico to Chicago

Francesco Mazzei talks Siepi luxury Chianti ClassicoPhoto used with permission of Mazzei WineryView all6 photosLuxury wines are in a category outside the experience of the average person in America, and perhaps in most countries. A special opportunity came recently to Chicago to taste a few of these elegant wines, thanks to Palm Bay importers. They invited winemaker Francesco Mazzei to bring some of his Siepi Chianti Classico treasures here to Chicago for a vertical tasting, with vintages from 2005 through 2012.All the Siepi vintages were made with Sangiovese but also with non-traditional Merlot grapes, said Francesco, an innovation Mazzei pioneered in the 1980s. He said Merlot, not previously used to make Chianti, is bigger than Sangiovese and produces less acid, but growing in the Chianti region of Tuscany it acquires the character of Chianti. He talked about the season and the harvest for each of the Siepi vintages - fascinating stories of battling frost, drought, storms and global warming rising temperatures.Francesco said Mazzei's farming is 99% organic because conditions naturally permit that, and their bigger concern is using sustainable growing practices. "It is about trust," he said, "and respecting nature." He also noted that "wines are moody." Time and oxygen change wines as they age and, in Siepi's case, makes for some wonderful results. He said in a way, it's unfair to compare vintages to each other since that is not the way people traditionally enjoy wine.He pointed to the difference between an intellectual versus a physiological appreciation of wine - perhaps saying, in effect, people are moody, too. How and where and under what circumstances you taste a wine can have a powerful effect on how you perceive it. Thus, the importance of beautiful glasses and elegant surroundings when possible.The venue for the tasting was the two-Michelin-starred Acadia Restaurant, located at 1629 S. Wabash in an out-of-the-way area of South Loop. Flower boxes on stands mark the site of the restaurant (dinner-only service Tuesday through Sunday) on the otherwise-semi-empty street. But once guests enter, they bask in a rich yet sleek and simple decor with deep taupe-colored walls. Certainly the menu, paired with three additional non-Siepi wines from Mazzei, made a masterful presentation from Chef/Proprietor Ryan McCaskey and his creative team at Acadia.The green garlic/ramp soup was delicately flavorful, rich and creamy and served with flowers and flourish. Tasting the perfectly cooked farm egg yolk as it spilled over the crispy truffled potato basket was a distinct pleasure. The wines paired beautifully with the dishes, and the service was unobtrusively excellent.Read more about all the Siepi vintages here. Read about the many other Mazzei wines here, some as affordable as $15 (e.g., Belguardo Rose 2015 - light and easy to drink).A few standout Siepi vintages (~$150) include:
  • Siepi 2007 - an outstanding vintage that produced excellent quality grapes, well-balanced with soft tannins and concentrated antioxidants and anothcyanins (which contribute to color and stability in a wine - good for aging).
  • Siepi 2011 - a difficult year with good rainfall but extreme heat and sun. Even the oak leaves were turning from green to brown in the summer. The fight they had to make ended up producing a lovely wine.
  • Siepi 2012 - a challenging year with late frost and snow and a dry summer. Production overall was down by nearly 30%, but the quality is high with just a touch of sweetness. This is a good one to age if you have a cellar.
  • Siepi