Brix Wine Shop: Castello Master Blending Seminar

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited with my friend Sabs to the Brix by Night event for a Master Blending Class of Sangiovese. Brix by Night is a closed-door, private sit-down hosted by Brix Wine Shop, designed as a more intimate way to taste wines and spirits. The Master Blending seminar we attended was a tasting journey of several different wines, with the final wine being the 2006 Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico DOCG.

Now I’m not going to pretend to be a wine connoisseur, but I do know what I like and what I don’t, and at the top of my favorite wines is Chianti. After my trip to Tuscany in June, I have pretty much fallen in love with Chianti wine. So when I found out that we will be tasting Chianti Classico, I did a little dance of excitement.

The blending class was led by Francesco Mazzei. The Mazzei family has been making wine for 24 generations (!) and the Castelo di Fonterutoli vineyards is the source of some of Italy’s most prestigious, award-winning wines. It was great learning about their rich history, and of course, it was wonderful tasting all the wine!

When we arrived at Brix, we were welcomed with some Belgvardo Mazzei Rose:

As soon as I took a sip, I knew we were up for a good evening

I postponed mingling so I can hang out near the cheese

I love pecorino cheese. I sort of wished there was spicy salami to eat with it.

It was my first time trying a triple-milk cheese, and I liked it. The consistency was closer to goat cheese, but the flavor was milder

I buy comte every now and then, and this wasn't anything special. Still good (what cheese isn't good?) but my least favorite among the three.

Now on to the wine tasting! The final wine, 2006 vintage Castello, was basically a “master blend” of 45 different grape growing parcels; we tasted 5 of the best wines in succession before getting to the 6th and last bottle.

Each of the five wines is from a different vineyard

I learned that each vineyard is affected by altitude, exposure, surrounding landscapes, and other climactic factors , thus producing different grapes for different wines. Mr. Mazzei thoroughly explained each wine, and while I admittedly did not understand some of the info (biotypes, clone of Sangiovese, rootstock – these are things that didn’t make any sense to me), I did understand, or rather taste, the different flavors of each wine. From flavors of plum to notes of black pepper, it was truly a unique experience to taste each blend before getting to the final Chianti Classico.

I was able to talk to Mr. Mazzei for a few minutes after the seminar, and he was very friendly and accommodating. At first I was a little intimidated – one of the other attendees was asking about the R24 clone of Sangiovese (what the?) while here I am, holding my blogger notebook and stammering about my wonderful time at Castellina in Tuscany – but he was so nice and assured me that the most important thing is essentially my own preference, not anyone else’s.

he kinda looks like Anthony Bourdain, doesn't he?

After the event, Sabs and I hung around for a little bit and talked with Klaudia Mally, one half of the powerful duo behind Brix. I really enjoyed talking with Klaudia, I can feel her passion for their products and she embodies the sort of sincere and pleasant business owner who customers can easily relate with. I also really like the actual wine shop  – they have weekly wine tastings, can host private events (they have a private tasting room – perfect for small parties, or maybe a fun girl’s night!), and they give unpretentious wine advice – even to non-wine connoisseurs like me :)

They have an eclectic inventory of boutique wines

The shop’s warm colors makes it appear very inviting, and as Klaudia said, it is almost like an extension of their homes. She said she and co-owner Kari Wroblewski like treating their customers as they would their friends and family; they have no qualms opening up an expensive bottle for the free tastings because they know everyone will like it.

If this wall of hard liquor is an extension of their homes, I want it in mine too.

I also think Brix has the right amount of chicness and charm, with its uniform, handwritten labels and warm, smiling employees (we also met Alvaro from the South End shop, who I accosted in a quest to compliment him on his fabulous glasses. Hi Alvaro and Michael!) Oh and my favorite find at Brix is their BRIX SIX! Every month, Klaudia and Kari hand-pick 6 wines that revolve around a theme. You get six wines for $75, which is a really good bargain. It also comes with a little sheet that includes info about each wine and recommended food pairings. This month’s theme is – you guessed it – Thanksgiving and turkey.

For November, it's "Six Ways to Tantalize Your Turkey"

Klaudia gave me a little sneak peak for December, and the Brix Six will include a sparkling wine AND a dessert wine! So yeah, I’ll be at Brix on December 1st (you can pre-order if you can’t wait).

For December, there will be a "Celebration Six" for $75, and the "Connoisseur Six" for $125

I know I am gushing about Brix, but it was my first time going there, and my first blending class, and I really had a lovely time. Thank you again, Klaudia, for having us. And grazie, Mr. Mazzei, for the informative blending class. Now I want to go back to Tuscany so I can visit more vineyards!

Brix has locations in Boston’s Financial District and the South End. The event we attended was at Broad Street in the Financial District.

What’s your favorite wine tasting event? Have you ever done a wine blending seminar?


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