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Donatella’s red Il Drago wags its tail

After the success obtained by “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe” 2007, now the best vintage of the century is about to go on sale, 2010, and Donatella Cinelli Colombini expects a result with a bang

Written by Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Drago-2010

Drago-2010

The 2010 harvest launches a new phase for the young estate belonging to Donatella. The vineyards become the protagonists and all the staff works for them trying to emphasize the specificity of the land and the climate. As if nature were to direct a melody and the grape growers together with the cellar staff were to play it without ever trying to change it to their own liking. Never any concessions to the fashion to the market …..never. It is nature that composes the music. Obviously there is the need for a great conductor and this is just what Valérie Lavigne is. A woman with extraordinary sensibility and an immense passion for Italian grape varieties. In the “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe” IGT she has used Sagrantino (together with Sangiovese and Merlot), this is the king of varieties in Umbria, a region which is only 18 km from Fattoria del Colle. The Sagrantino grown on the Tuscan side of the Val di Chiana has more “gentle “character still though maintaining the richness in extracts which distinguish it.
The 2010 harvest is the best that man can remember. The perfect harvest.
Could Donatella’s new style wines have a better launching? Everyone hopes in even better results than those obtained with the previous vintage, the 2007, which was chosen by the British Columbia monopoly and has obtained great results from the press and in its extraordinary sales.

Type: dry red.
Production area: Tuscany, Trequanda, Fattoria del Colle,

Drago-2010-avocado-e-licis

Drago-2010-avocado-e-licis

Classification: IGT Toscana Rosso.
Vintage characteristics: very rainy winter and spring. Thanks to the abundance of water stored underground the vines resisted well the very hot month of July and the hot month of August. The colouring of the grapes was a long process because of the lack of hydro-.stress which usually starts of the process. The last phase of the vegetative cycle was on the other hand very rapid and the harvest which was foreseen for October, took place in September. The acidity stayed high regardless of the proceeding ripeness, with a high component of malic acid. At the moment of the harvest the grape seeds were totally lignified.
Grape variety: Sangiovese (the same clone used for the Brunello) 60%, Merlot 20%, Sagrantino 20%.
Grape harvest: The best grapes came from the more adult vines with deep roots.
Vinification: in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, with pumping-overs concentrated between the 3rd and 6th day.
Ageing: 18 months in French oak tonneaux.
Colour: dark ruby red.
Aroma: fine full, complex with net perfumes of ripe small red fruits.
Taste: full, harmonious, intense, persistent, well balanced tannins. The particular spicy

Merlot-Donatella-Cinelli-Colombini-shows a grape

Merlot-Donatella-Cinelli-Colombini-shows a grape

note comes from the Sagrantino, the softness from the Merlot and the elegance form the Sangiovese. The alcohol content balances a solid acid and polyphenolic structure with a very pleasant and powerful effect.
Matching dishes: Extremely versatile, well matched with Chinese, Indian Russian dishes…. as long as tasty and with little fat.
Way of serving: This is a wine for great occasions. Serve at room temperature (18-20°C) in clear crystal balloon shaped wine goblets.
Home ageing: apt for 25 years ageing and more. Keep the bottles lying down in a dark and cool place. Have the corks changed in Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s winery around the year 2024.

An anticipated grape harvest for Brunello and Doc Orcia

In Donatella Cinelli Colombini vineyards the clusters are scarce and it will have to be further diminished with the “green harvest” so as to help the thirsty vines

Fattoria-del-Colle-inspection in the vineyards-Valérie-Lavigne

Fattoria-del-Colle-inspection in the vineyards-Valérie-Lavigne

To be sure this grape harvest with be anticipated and scarce! What is still to be seen in the level of quality which will depend on the rain foreseen for the end of August. The vines are thirsty. Especially where there is more soil skeletal and a better position. So the change in climate is completely turning over the classification of best vineyards and in 2012 the best grapes will come from the vines planted in soil which is rich in clay and with less exposition to the sun.

For Donatella Cinelli Colombini this means a small revolution. So at Casato Prime Donne in Montalcino more expectations from the “vignone” – the only old vineyard on the farm – and in the Sant’ Antonio Vineyard while the new splendid vineyards of Sangiovese on the hill begin to show the first

Sangiovese grapes

Sangiovese grapes

traces of stress through lack of rain. At Fattoria del Colle the Foglia Tonda variety is in serious difficulty and some of the grapes have already been removed to help the vines resist the drought. Much better for the Sangiovese and even better for the Sagrantino, which seems indifferent to all climatic problems. The hydro-stress is more accentuated at Fattoria del Colle than in the Brunello area, especially in the “poggione” vineyard.

The colour changing of the grapes ( from green to blue )  will determine how many and which clusters to remove with the green harvesting. The green grapes are cut. There are few clusters but to help the grapes in the extreme climatic conditions registered in 2012 it will be necessary to diminish some more.

culling-foglia-tonda vineyard

culling-foglia-tonda vineyard

<<Nature always gives back what it has taken away >> says the proverb, so if there is a reduction in quantity then there should be relative increase in quality, and as there is a foreseen lessening in quantity of about 20% with respect to the norm, then this year the quality should be extraordinarily high. Let’s hope so!

 

 


Chinese Haute Cuisine for Drago wine

On Saturday March 31st, at the Green T Chinese restaurant in the heart of Rome, Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe” 2007 was served

Roma-Green T restaurant- Toasting with Il Drago e le 8 Colombe

Roma-Green T restaurant- Toasting with Il Drago e le 8 Colombe

This was a family party reserved to a few friends of Donatella and her husband Carlo Gardini. Friends with a refined palate such as Giacomo and Yan Rech owners the “Green T” restaurant. They prepared 24 spectacular Chinese dishes chosen to be matched with rosato 2011 “Rosa di Tetto” and most of all with “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe” the wine that was to be celebrated. The result was wonderful, a real love marriage! Wines and food that married in an impeccable way.

An all Chinese lunch, during the year of the water dragon, for a wine that happily s looks towards the Orient. A small party that wants to bring good luck to a wine that has been completely revisited: new blend of grapes, new packaging new name, and even a new dragon.
Let’s start from the name. The doves represent women and her refer to the all

Rome- Green T- The antipasti for the IGT 2011 Rosa di Tetto

Rome- Green T- The antipasti for the IGT 2011 Rosa di Tetto

female staff in Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s wineries, a unique situation in Italy. With the arrival of the consultant wine maker Valérie Lavigne the number of women in the cellar have increased so the name of the wine changed from “Il Drago e le 7 Colombe” to “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe”. The dragon represents the male presence on the estate in the person of Carlo Gardini, Donatella’s husband, and a great wine lover.

Then there is the grape blend with Sagrantino – a typical variety in central Italy – which is a small step towards wines with more local identity. Regarding taste, the wine results elegant and harmonious. A change in quality which is looking towards China and benefits from a wonderful harvest, the 2007, which is considered a 5 star one. The numerous changes are underlined by a restyling of the label created by Alessandro Grazi, Sienese painter, who actually adores the colour red, dominating colour in the new label and loved by the Asian continent.

After having presented the protagonist wine at the party here are the guests at the table: Monica Larner

The young and clever taster from “Wine Enthusiast”, Alfredo Tesio in charge of the Gruppo del Gusto in the Stampa Estera di Roma and his wife, the Danish gastronomist Helle, and finally Shi Kedong correspondent for “Quotidiano del Popolo” (People’s daily) the most important Chinese newspaper with more

Rome Green T restaurant- Giacomo Rech and Violante with  Il Drago e le 8 Colombe

Rome Green T restaurant- Giacomo Rech and Violante with Il Drago e le 8 Colombe

than 20million readers. Then Massimo Arcioni owner of one of the oldest and better known wine stores in Rome and Luca Mittica who with Violante Gardini is in charge of the sales of Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s wines

Even though they were all great food and wine experts they were all at “Green T” for the first time. This is a Chinese restaurant like no other, it is one of the few places in Europe where it is possible, to eat Chinese haute cuisine. There is a great chef form Hong Kong and the owner Giacomo Rech knows how to explain the Chinese culture of food and the specificity of each dish. So in other words other than offering the highest quality food “Green T” is also somewhere to g to learn things about the Asian civilization. For this reason Donatella Cinelli Colombini has chosen it and has wanted to demonstrate the different wine and food cultures, when of excellent level, can find meeting points and can reciprocally emphasize each other still maintaining their own identity.

Il Drago e le 8 colombe

Today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year and this is the year of the dragon. A magic year for this wine which changes completely.

New vintage, new blend of grapes, new name and new packaging for the Drago wine by Donatella Cinelli Colombini.

“Il Drago e le 8 colombe” in the flesh

“Il Drago e le 8 colombe” in the flesh

The doves represent the women and consequently refer to the female cellar staff, a revolutionary work situation for Italy. With the arrival of the female consultant wine maker Valérie Lavigne the doves increase in number and the name of the wine changes: it used to be called “Il Drago e le Sette Colombe” and has become “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe”

Quite on the contrary the Drago emphasizes a male presence – nobody here wants to be discriminating – in the person of Carlo Gardini, Donatella’s husband who is a great wine lover
The arrival of Valérie Lavigne, sets of a serious thought about Italian grape varieties and the possibility of blending them to make high quality wines that are able to sell on foreign markets.
From here the desire to emphasize the Sagrantino grape, a variety greatly used in Umbria, which is just 20km away from Fattoria del Colle and belongs to the same geographical area. For the moment we are cultivating Sagrantino grapes in just a few rows, but soon it will be possible to harvest a whole new Vineyard. Read more…


It’s time for Superitalians

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Two or more autochthonous varieties used together: its seems obvious but until a few years ago the blend with  most success was made with Sangiovese together with international varieties, today though,  on the other hand the need for identity, of originality, of a distinctive character, pushes wine makers towards new solutions which associate traditional varieties from the same territory, but there is lots more

Valérie Lavigne Donatella Cinelli Colombini e Barbara Magnani

Valerie Lavigne, the wine consultant that Donatella Cinelli Colombini has brought from the Bordeaux University into her wineries Casato Prime Donne in Montalcino and Fattoria del Colle in southern Chianti, explains her conception of winemaking. Something opposite to globalization but however able to compete at very high quality levels in an international scenario.
Her reasoning starts with a question mark that puts a doubt on the very same concept of “international variety”. For the French wine expert
<< Autochthonous varieties, when combined with the image of a great wine produced in this region, Brunello Sangiovese for example, are always cultivated at their northern limit, therefore where it is always a little more difficult than elsewhere to get a full maturity. It is in these conditions that the grape expression is the most original and most inimitable. The international varieties like merlot, cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay, when grown in Bordeaux and Burgundy are at their northern limit. The aromas of these varieties, in these circumstances are very unique and identifiable. Grown in warmer or drier climates wines produced can be good but not very great wines. Their aromatic expression loses its unique character>>. In other words the concept of Merlot is the same everywhere” is for her pure illusion. On the contrary it is only challenging nature, in extreme conditions, that one reaches excellence.
But this is where the “terroir” factor comes into it, or rather the imprint, the distinctive trait of the territory << it is having a recognizable taste that makes a great wine, the taste which is the specific expression of one or more varieties grown in a certain region. Without this authentic imprint of the terroir there can be no diversity. The search for quality is consequently, in my opinion, inextricably bound to the concepts of territory, identity and consequently diversity>>

One of Casato Prime Donne's vineyards

One of Casato Prime Donne's vineyards

This concept puts the vineyard in the position of prime protagonist, and brings with it a question: in which direction should we go? << I think that it is the time to study a blend among autochthonous varieties, therefore to produce wines tied to a specific territory and consequently with a recognizable and inimitable taste. Why not imagine the effect of combining the colourful, powerful, low acid and very tannic Sagrantino with the more delicate, most acidic and less colourful Sangiovese ? It is the tannin quality of each that will guide the blend. But there are probably other ways to explore or deepen in all cases. What about Colorino for example?
A courageous point of view, that of the French researcher, who in her opinions, shows years of research on wine aromas, carried out in the most prestigious wine university in the world. Her ability as researcher and as wine taster have led her to be chosen by the Head of the Enology faculty in Bordeaux, Denis Dubordieu, to constitute together with Christophe Olivier, a group of consultants who advise excellent wineries such as Châteaux d’Yquem, Margaux and Cheval Blanc. Valérie, is not an ordinary woman, but an export who’s opinion count greatly in the wine world.

Cantina Casato Prime Donne

Cantina Casato Prime Donne

So identity is essential, and so is the protection of the distinctive characters of the grapes of a specific territory obtained also through a different rapport with barrels << The wood must not disturb this authenticity, it must remain a support, an element of complexity>>. At the same time the vineyard must be << eco-compatible to produce great wines>>. In her word a strong no towards those who pollute using as a justification the intent of making great wines.  <<no residues of pesticides not only in wines but also in soil, water and air, unspoilt and adorned countryside. A countryside which is clean and beautiful. The producers of a territory defend the environment investing in the economic, social and cultural future of their children.>>.

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