La Colombina – or La Colombina di Caselli Anna Maria to give its full name – is a small, three hectare estate in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, south of the town of Montalcino. It is a beautiful modern winery but nothing can compare with the view from the roof of the submerged winery – a panorama which includes the exquisite local landmark, the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo. So this is a very special place in terms of its broader setting and the care which has been lavished on the new winery. Much of it is underground, and was completed in 2006 after a nine year tussle with the authorities , partly because of the sensitivity of the site. Thus, since 1987, a traditional mixed farm (olives, vines, pasture) has been converted into a specialised vineyard producing a range of traditional and Super Tuscan wines. The first vintage of the latter was 1998 and it and other early release wines helped to fill in the long eleven year wait – from planting to first release – of the Brunello. And the plaudits have since rolled in – Janet and I choose to visit here because of their Brunello’s success as the equal highest rated wine in Decanter’s tasting of the 2007 vintage (Decanter, August 2012).
We were graciously shown around this family concern at very short notice by wine maker Alamiro Pecciarini and son Fabrizio. The vineyards are scattered around the village and mostly have quite a lot of clay and so the land needs to be worked. The concern here, as everywhere on the first days of August 2012, was the long drought and the southern wind which is beginning to burn the plants.
After a brief winery tour, we tasted the wines (August 2012):
Palpito, Sant’Antimo DOC, 2008 – the Sant’Antimo DOC was a new creation of 1996 to accommodate French grape varieties in Montalcino. It is decidedly and deliberately broad church. As elsewhere you can add a grape name, eg Cabernet Sauvignon, if it makes up 85% of the grapes, while the simple Rosso or Bianco is to be made of the varieties ‘recommended or allowed’ in the province of Siena so that covers most possibilities. Thus, here, Palpito is made up of 40% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite these precise figures there is also some Pinot Noir in the blend, which is picked 25 days before the Sangiovese! The wine spends six months in barriques and another four to five months in bottles before being released. Deep ruby in colour (that’s the Cab and Merlot), this is full of attractive red and black fruit, plus a slightly burnt but not jammy note. Good value, high quality everyday wine.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2009 – pale ruby, moderate berry and leather notes, light in the mouth, softish tannins, good.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2010 – young, deep fruit but balanced and not over-extracted, this is both fermented in wood and then matured wood. Lovely red berried fruit on the nose.
San Martino IGT Toscana, 2006 – is another multi variety blend but flying under the IGT flag: 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, which has spent a year in barriques. The wine shows a great fruit palate with a good, tannic structure. Interestingly, it is less ready to drink than the 2007 – fresh, not perhaps as integrated but splendid accessible fruit.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2007 – classic tobacco, leather, spice and berried fruit on nose and palate plus outstanding persistence. Mouth filling and finely balanced at the same time. It is not difficult to see why Decanter got excited about this (18.5/20) in its review of an early drinking vintage, preceded by the yet better 2004s and 2006s. We also got to taste the just bottled, not yet released, 2008. Understandably this is not yet drawing together but has got good liquorish and dense dark berried fruit on the palate with plenty of scope for development.
With many thanks to all at La Colombina – your wines are of a quality to match the setting!
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Page created 14 August 2012