Badia a Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti 1999
There are few other wineries anywhere that have such an aura of vinicultural history as that of Badia a Coltibuono. In Europe, it is not too difficult to find wineries that have origins dating back one, two, three, even five centuries, but the edifice at Badia a Coltibuono has been watching over winemaking for almost a thousand yearsand the building was constructed long after wine was first made on the property. Grapeseeds and amphorae from the first century A.D. Roman period evidence of wine production have been found at an archaeological dig on the property, and even earlier ruins from the wine-savvy Etruscan culture are present as well.
Today, the Badia a Coltibuono estate in the Chianti Classico commune of Gaiole in Chianti is led by the fifth generation of family members: Emanuela, Paolo, and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti. There are 150 acres of vineyards on the property, along with another 50 acres of olive trees. This being Chianti Classico, Sangiovese is naturally the most important grape variety planted. However, the family honors Chianti's heritage by also keeping significant numbers of vines of other traditional varieties that are allowed but often omitted in Chianti Classico: Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda, Malvasia Nera, Mammolo, Pugnitello, and Sanforte (as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia for Vin Santo). From these building blocks, Badia a Coltibuono makes a robust range of wines from the traditional to the innovative.
With a thousand years of winemaking history at their backs, the Stucchi Prinettis feel the responsibility of land stewardship acutely. Badia a Coltibuono was an early adopter of sustainable practices in modern-day Chianti Classico and has been at the front of a movement to get the whole region to farm organically. All of the estate grapes are now organically grown. Vinification takes place in the winery's architecturally and technologically state-of-the-art winemaking facility located amidst the vineyards not far from the abbey. The structure was designed to have minimal environmental impact. Badia a Coltibuono's winemaking philosophy includes vinifications using wild autochthonous yeasts in smaller vessels, in both wood and stainless steel, with maturation mostly in large casks or used oak barrels rather than in new oak.
Famous for its food-friendly, approachable wines and their storied history, Chianti is perhaps the best-known wine region of Italy. This appellation within Tuscany has it all: sweeping views of rolling hills, endless vineyards, the warm Mediterranean sun, hearty cuisine and a rich artistic heritage. Chianti includes seven subzones: Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Rufina, Montalbano, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Colli Aretini and Montespertoli, with area beyond whose wines can be labeled simply as Chianti.
However the best quality comes from Chianti Classico, in the heart of the Chianti zone, which is no longer a subzone of the region at all but has been recognized on its own since 1996. The Classico region today is delimited by the confines of the original Chianti zone protected since the 1700s.
Chianti wines are made primarily of Sangiovese, with other varieties comprising up to 25-30% of the blend. Generally, local varieties are used, including Canaiolo, Colorino and Mammolo, but international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are allowed as long as they are grown within the same zone.
Basic, value-driven Chianti is simple and fruit-forward and makes a great companion to any casual dinner. At its apex, Chianti is full bodied but with good acidity, firm tannins, and notes of tart red fruit, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic and tobacco. Chianti Riserva, typically the top bottling of a producer, can benefit handsomely from a decade or two of cellaring.