Born into one of Tuscany’s oldest winemaking families in 1925, he is credited with helping to bring both the Mazzei family wine business and Chianti Classico more generally into the modern era.
Before doing so, he helped the Allies to liberate Italy in the Second World War.
He remained a key figure in Florentine society throughout his life and tributes were this week led by the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, who offered his personal condolences to the Mazzei family.
‘With [the death of] Lapo Mazzei we lose a great Florentine who gave so much to Florence and to our country, participating in the Liberation of Italy,’ said Nardella.
Alongside his sense of public duty and role as head of Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze bank, Nardella praised Lapo Mazzei’s contribution to the history of Italian wine.
Italy’s appellation authority, Federdoc, also joined Nardella in expressing its condolences to the Mazzei family this week.
Mazzei was president of the Chianti Classico Consorzio for 20 years from 1974.
During this period, the Consorzio began what would become known as the ‘Chianti Classico Collection’ tasting for domestic and international press. The denomination also achieved DOCG status in 1984.
Long before that, Lapo Mazzei had begun overseeing the family winemaking business while still studying for a degree in agriculture.
The Mazzei family has produced wine at Castello di Fonterutoli for 24 generations, since Madonna Smeralda Mazzei married Piero di Agnolo da Fonterutoli in 1435.
Her grandfather, Ser Lapo Mazzei, wrote one of the oldest-surviving references to Chianti wine, dating to 1398.
But it was Lapo Mazzei in the 20th Century who led the investments that would enable the family to take advantage of new international markets for wine – and help bring the Chianti Classico name to more wine lovers outside of Italy.