“Whatever way you cut it, Sangiovese benefits from blending either within a range of clones or with other varieties as per the Super Tuscans. The clones of Sangiovese that dominated in Tuscany in the 1970s were not capable of producing consistently high-quality wines, and clonal research has been going on for decades resulting in 70 approved clones today.” So wrote Simon Larkin MW in July 2020.
That was written in relation to the 2016 Concerto di Fonterutoli that we offered then but is perhaps even more relevant for the 2016 Mix 36 that has subsequently captivated his palate.
Over the course of half a century, the Mazzei family have isolated 36 specific clones of Sangiovese, 18 of which are said to be exclusive to their Castello di Fonterutoli estate, which have adapted best to the subtle variations of soil, altitude and climate. These have been blended since the inaugural 2008 vintage to produce this beautiful expression of Chianti. The name is functional at best, but this is the last vintage to be labelled such. Henceforth it will carry the name of the Cru from which it is produced. Vicoregio is a 14 hectare single vineyard of clay-rich limestone soils at 350 metres altitude and planted to this 36 clone blend from the late 1990s.
The shift to a single vineyard name is part of a strategy to highlight individual Cru in Chianti in line with building awareness and knowledge of the subtleties and stylistic variations possible within this large, well-known wine region, too often generalised about. The Mazzei family will make three Gran Selezione wines from three individual Cru within three separate communes. This serves to highlight their long-standing commitment to quality but also their long-standing commitment to the DOCG Chianti itself, aside from their pioneering work on Super-Tuscans Concerto and Siepi. They truly embrace the two sides of Tuscany and the incredible quality standard to which they hold themselves across their portfolio of wines from over 100 hectares in 120 parcels is remarkable.
In summary, the 2016 Mix 36 is produced from 36 distinct biotypes of Sangiovese from a 14 hectare vineyard of clay-rich limestone soils on a plateau at 350 metres which is vinified and then aged for 18 months in 500 litre French oak barrels leading to an expression of Sangiovese and of Chianti that is rich and intense. An absolutely fascinating and compelling wine.
2016 Mix 36, Mazzei
£265 per 6 bottle case in bond
The 2016 Mix 36 shows precise, bright red fruit with the density of fruit perfectly offset by the racy freshness that is typical of 2016, all underpinned by tannins that display a silky quality. It exhibits pinpointed flavours in a wine that is light on its feet yet with a richness, textural breadth and a terrific sense of tension. There is also a leafy complexity, so typical of fine Sangiovese as it evolves. This wine has clearly fleshed out over the last 12 months in bottle and is really starting to get into its stride to show its true class. Drink 2021-2033 (SL)
Monica Larner, robertparker.com, 94 points, September 2019
I am always fascinated by this wine, made with a blend of 36 biotypes of Sangiovese from an experimental plot at the Fonterutoli property. The 2016 Mix 36 (with 8,000 bottles produced) shows classic Sangiovese lines with wild berry, cassis, smoke, tar and moist earth. There are delicate floral notes with wild rose and pressed violets that show with greater intensity in this balanced vintage. The wine ages in 500-liter barrels for 18 months. Drink 2019-2035
Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, 92 points, August 2019
The 2016 Mix36 Fonterutoli is another expressive wine in this range. Black cherry, chocolate, licorice, spice, menthol, grilled herbs and leather are some of the many notes that fill out the wine's powerful, muscular frame. The 2016 finishes with notable textural resonance and plenty of grip. Drink 2021-2036
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