Thomas Jefferson was inspired and enticed by his friend Philip Mazzei to incorporate equality into the American Declaration of Independence, but he also planted the seed for winemaking in Virginia, the first founding state to make wine in the United States. The values of the Mazzei family reflect and pay tribute to the historical importance of their honourable pursuits today in producing excellent Italian wines and now also serving superb local food at Osteria di Fonterutoli. Sustainability, supporting biodiversity and nature’s own balancing prowess remained the ethos of the family that has been making wine for 24 generations!
Surrounded by the rolling hills of Chianti Classico, silver cast olive trees and in a drama indulging sky, the stone-based country house of the Osteria di Fonterutoli fits in perfectly. Located in the village owned by the Mazzei family since 1435, the casual restaurant is certainly a new project for the entrepreneurial generation that already successfully runs a modern winery, a well-appointed Bed&Breakfast and a wine shop in the book-perfect village. The Osteria has a very sociable atmosphere, most guests are intellectuals and locals who know each other and do not hesitate to chat comfortably with strangers. The atmosphere at the Osteria di Fonterutoli casts fresh, rustic, and a delicate sense of sophistication while being comfortable and flexible. The latest embodied in a nice terrace expecting the warm days dining alfresco.
Eating seasonal and local slow food at Osteria di Fonterutoli
The traditional Tuscan meals here are hearty concoctions of fresh regional ingredients wielding a creative take of the chef on the home recipes of the Mazzei family. The bread is freshly baked so you might end up eating the entire basket before you realise it, but do not tame your appetite since the portions are not overwhelming in the American sense, but rather sufficiently European.
Going very local with my first course I went for the Fresh Tomato and Bread Soup that was exquisite. I have tried different versions of this Tuscan “soup” which does not have much water, so I would rather call it ‘hearty vegetarian mashed tomatoes’, but at Osteria di Fonterutoli it made honour, while paying respect to this traditional Tuscan soup. The succulent tomatoes with their intense natural juice were delicately mixed with the bread soaked so well that you might not have realised that there was bread in it at all. Smoothened by a blend of local olive oil and chopped basil and served with crispy thin slices of bread, this is what you want to warm you up during cool autumn and winter days.
Not many people connect Tuscan food with salads, but they can do them so well here. The Baby Salad with Pear, Pecorino Cheese and Dry Fruit is huge, but there is never enough lettuce in our diet so, good for you. It is not a boring green thing neither. A sweet and viscous balsamic vinegar is drizzled over the salad with a crunchy touch of apples and raisins that pair wonderfully with pecorino. As a meat option with the superb red Siepi wine from Mazzei family would be the Rabissi & Pepi cold cuts with pecorino cheese and their own jam. Olive oil from the estates in Sicily as well as from Tuscany is poured over many of the dishes. The seasonally changing pasta are originally created, with one healthier wholewheat option in the first plates is included.
Ready for the main act? Then you must try the Spicy Guinea Fowl (the Mazzei Family traditional dish pictured below) or another speciality suitable for the Chianti wines such as the Marinated Beef Rib Eye Mazzei’s Style (with fresh herbs served sizzling on top of a hot stone). The Guinea Fowl might surprise even these of you who are not big fans of eating this bird, unless you are a vegetarian. Tender, not dry, but rather slightly juicy with a delicate taste and a great herb and spice marinade, it was superb. Hunting is still a popular pastime in Tuscany, so seasonal game is featured on the local menu. And of course the proper Bistecca Fiorentina decorates the menu, you are in Tuscany after all!
Organic cheese selection from Parrina is a great option for a sugar-free meal, but the desserts are appealing. From the classic Tiramisu to the “Assortment of ‘standing milk’ desserts” (aka Panna cotta), the sweet cravings will get easily satisfied.
Centuries of winemaking knowledge brought to modern, by nature inspired wines by the Mazzeis
At Osteria di Fonterutoli you must drink the by centuries-honed wines of the village founders, the Mazzei family. The Mazzeis make a wide range of excellent Italian wines not only in Chianti Classico from the typical Tuscan grapes (Sangiovese in Castello di Fonterutoli), but also in Sicily (Zisola in Noto), and Maremma Toscana (the “New Toscans” Belguardo) regions. Each of the wines shares its unique character reflecting the location, the varietal or distinct winemaking. My favourite red is Mix 36 Sangiovese made from 36 handpicked biotypes of the Sangiovese grape, hence the name. This Chianti Classico IGT is so complex that I enjoy tasting it with years passing, its elegance reveals itself over time as the fruit cedes to secondary earthy notes. The concentrated single vineyard Siepi blend of Sangiovese and Merlot is powerful and appreciated by my husband, while I need to wait for its beauty to charm me as it ages. I would seek older vintages to drink this highly praised estate wine that was humbly satisfied with its IGT status, but in terms of quality the DOCG potential of the wine should redefine the Italy’s complex and discriminative appellation system. More about their wines on their well-informed website.
At Tenuta del Belguardo five wines are currently being made. Belguardo, in signature blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate “offers a unique bouquet with elements of eucalyptus oil, rosemary, balsamic herbs, moist earth and loads of mature blackberry” so he gives it regularly over 90 scores. Other blends include Belguardo Serrata mostly Sangiovese with some Alicante. The more bright and fruity Belguardo Rosato, usually an equal share between Sangiovese and Syrah. The lush white Vermentino in Belguardo Codice V with is creamy lushness is my favourite seafood pasta wine. The grape’s lighter and fresher expression comes in the bottling of Tenuta Belguardo Vermentino.
The main winery next to the Medieval village has been recently updated with the most modern technology, the design of which remained in the hands of the family. Agnese Mazzei, the creator of the new Castello di Fonterutoli winery paid attention to the buildings’ low environmental impact, “where aesthetics meet functionality“. After or before your meal at the Osteria di Fonterutoli paying a visit to the gravity utilising winery is a must.
Lunch daily except Tuesday: 12.30pm-2.30pm; Fri-Sat also dinner: 7pm-10pm
Via Giacomo Puccini, 4, Fonterutoli – 5 km south of Castellina in Chianti, Province of Siena, Italy.
+39 0577 741125; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org