Marchesi Mazzei, The Historical Tuscan Winemakers Create Their Sicilian Identity at Zisola Estate in Noto

Sicily, an enchanting land rich in history and culture, has captivated Filippo and Francesco Mazzei, whose family has been dedicated to winemaking for six centuries. True to their family’s legacy of passion and deep commitment to winemaking in Tuscany, they set forth to another incredible journey outside their region more than twenty years ago, this time to the southernmost tip of Italy. After a long and challenging search for the perfect land on where to start making wine in Sicily, they found an agricultural land in the southeastern part of Sicily, just outside Noto, an ancient town enlisted in as a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its notable baroque architecture. They called it Zisola and it’s the third estate after two other Tuscan estates, Castello di Fonterutoli and Belguardo.

Francesco and Filippo Mazzei

Zisola Estate

In the 50-hectare land which used to have citrus trees, the brothers created Zisola in 2003, a winery focused on the autochthonous vines of the territory. They believed in the great potentiality of the area that needed to be explored. Twenty four hectares were designated to vineyards which are interspersed with trees of olives, almonds and citrus while some were left wild to create a perfect biodiversity in the estate.

The entire land has an altitude between 90 and 130 meters above sea level in a very open and ventilated space. The vines get the west and southwest sun exposure. The soil formation is characterized by medium- textured soils, highly calcareous and skeletal. Being in the land of Nero d’Avola, it is their most cultivated variety which is flanked by Syrah, Petit Verdot, Grillo and Catarratto to a much lesser extent. All the vines are trained with the alberello system (head-trained bush system). It guarantees that the vines receive maximum light and its close proximity to the ground allows an exchange of heat which is ideal for the ripening of the fruit with optimum quality.

The vineyards receive sea breezes due to the proximity to the coast. The importance of this factor contributes to the moderation of high temperatures in summer and the mitigation of winter. The combination of all these soil composition and climatic conditions allow the perfect ripening of the grapes and wines are characterized by minerality, freshness, elegance and great personality. The vines have always been managed in a natural way, the soils are fertilized with green manure and the conversion of organic waste into compost. The estate has been certified organic since this year.

The Wines

The production of Zisola consists of six labels, four of which are red wines and the other two, white which depict the strong identities of the territory and the grape varieties. This corresponds with their objective of producing wines with character and immediate recognizability their components. Their oenologist, Francesco Loi, is a young Sicilian with an incredible amount of passion for his land and his work. Functioning as a consultant is Carlo Ferrini, a multi-awarded oenologist who has been doing the consultancy to the Tuscan estates of the Mazzeis.

Azisa Grillo Sicilia DOC 2022

Obtained from 100% Grillo cultivated in the calcareous soil of the Zisola vineyards. Azisa means splendid, an adjective that best describes the character of this wine. Brilliant, fresh and crispy with a pure aromatic profile reminiscent of white flowers, lending a vein of minerality. On the palate, young and fresh with notes of citrus and sapidity.

Zisola Sicilia Noto Rosso DOC 2021

Obtained from 100% Nero d’Avola which comes exclusively from sapling-trained vines near Noto. Aged in French oak barrique of 2nd to 3rd passage for 12 months. Fresh and elegant, fruit-forward in the nose with notes of dark berries and hint of forest undergrowth. Displays great harmony and elegance on the mouth with dried herbs and smokiness developing in mid-palate, a balance of slender sapidity and acidity ending with persistence. Worth noting is its inclusion among the “Top 100” 2022 of Wine Spectator which sees only 20 Italian labels placed in the rankings.

Achilles Syrah Sicilia DOC 2020

Syrah in purity, a vine that is able to express its full potential thanks to the rocky and calcareous soil, the dry climate and the alberello training system which allows the typical exuberance of the variety under control. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrique, 50% of which are new. Full ruby red color with an interesting complex nose of aromas ranging from red and black berries, crushed stones, olives and balsamic notes. On the palate, mature fruit and sapidity spread out with tamed tannins and layered acidity that finishes long.

Effe Emme Petit Verdot Sicilia DOC 2020

Pure Petit Verdot with the particular characteristics of the Noto “terroir” meeting with a great 100% grape variety, giving life to an intriguing result full of personality. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrique, 50% of which are new. In the glass, it displays a ruby red color with purple highlights. The nose is particularly Mediterranean with prominence of pine resin and mature dark stone fruit while on the palate, the acidity lingers long and thin, persistence in the finish.

Doppiozeta Sicilia Noto Rosso DOC 2019

The Nero d’Avola cru from the three best single parcels from, each one worked on to best express their unique characteristics. A product of natural fermentation in stainless steel with no temperature control and no filtration. Aged in 50% new French oak tonneaux and 50% with more passages and 4 months in concrete tanks. Excellence in the broad and intense olfactory profile with underlined notes of asphalt, crushed wet stone, Meditteranean scrub, mature dark plums, notes of berries and cocoa power. Parallels on the palate with its broadness, integrated tannins, sapidity and acidity are notable. Displays elegance and harmony with a long finish.

Contrada Zisola Catarrato Terre Sicilane IGT 2021

The newest and the first vintage of this label which is obtained from pure Catarratto cultivated in Noto’s particular soil. The vinification process is divided into two methods: 50% was macerated with the skin in amphorae made of cocciopesto for 3 months while the remainder went through the typical vinification method of white wine on fine lees. A product of excellence with an ample complexity in the nose with underlined notes of citrus, Mediterranean scrub, porous dry stone, tropical fruits, honey. The the palate displays an exuberance of personality with a good structure, balance, notable acidity and sapidity and long persistence. In its youth, it already expresses itself very well and will still show much of its character when it evolved in the bottle much longer.


Address: Contrada Zisola, 96017, Noto (SR), Italy



Popular Posts