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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.>>.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini interviews the wine maker Valerie Lavigne

For Valerie Lavigne wine maker of Donatella Cinelli Colombini the autochtonous grape varieties will be the protagonists of the future italian wine

 What do the words DIVERSITY, IDENTITY, TIPICALITY? In an era of globalization these seem to have become more important but can they merge with the research for high quality?

Valerie Lavigne wine maker

Valerie Lavigne wine maker

1) Donatella Cinelli Colombini

 

Valerie Lavigne Identity and typicality define the personality of the wine. It is through them that wine is recognizable by its taste, taste that is the specific expression of one or more grape varieties grown in a given region. Without authenticity, there can be no diversity. Therefore the search for quality in my opinion is inextricably linked from the notions of authenticity, identity and therefore diversity.

 

Barbara Magnani, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Valerie Lavigne

Barbara Magnani, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Valerie Lavigne

 

2) Donatella Cinelli Colombin autochthonous varieties like Sangiovese, Foglia Tonda and Sagrantino. What have they to offer more or less of compared to the international varieties like Cabernet or Merlot

 

VLV Autochtonous grape 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, ie where there 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 either.
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. It is the privilege of autochtonous grape varieties to generate wines whose flavor can’t be replicated.

3) DCC The choice of preferring barrels for Brunello is firstly for wine making reasons and then for cultural reasons? In other words does it show a desire to make a wine with more identity or only to make a better wine?

 
VLV As I said, the wines are recognizable by a particular expression, typical of one or more grape varieties grown in a given region. The wood must not disturb this authenticity, it must remain a support, an element of complexity.
Less wood for wine most authentic and therefore greatest wines

4) DCC All of us must collaborate to reduce the environmental impact. What is the future of the eco-compatible vineyard? Many think of going biological others of being biodynamic…..how does one make great wines and still preserve nature?

VLV There is no choice. The vineyard must be both eco-compatible and produce great wines, expressing local inimitable taste.
The objectives of eco-compatibility are varied: no residues of pesticides not only in wines but also in soil, water and air, unspoilt and adorned countryside, enriched territory both economically, socially and culturally.
The distinction between biological and biodynamic is purely semantic. We must make every effort to achieve environmental objectives; If certain practices of biodynamic have a measurable beneficial effect, they are justified. Otherwise they have no interest.

5) DCC Today the Supertuscans, based on Sangiovese and international varieties, are no longer fashionable. Is this the beginning of an era that sees favourably blends based on autochthonous varieties? What do you think about Sagrantino plus Sangiovese?

 
VLV I think a return to blend of autochtonous varieties is in the air of time, always with the same idea, produce wines typical of a place, with a recognizable and inimitable taste.
Why not imagine the effect of combining the colorful, powerful, low acid and very tannic Sagrantino with the more delicate, most acidic and less colorful 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?


No more barriques, Brunello goes back into barrels

“Sangiovese’s specificity to be exalted and a return to the use of barrels”, these are the indications given by the French wine maker Valérie Lavigne for the perfect harmony of the greatest Brunello.
This type of affirmation is one that gets people talking, mostly because it comes from a French person and the barriques which have populated Italian wineries for the past ten years are French too. It is Valérie Lavigne speaking, the new extraordinary wine maker in Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s Tuscan wineries.
She teaches winemaking in the most famous wine making university in the world, Bordeaux, she is consultant together with Denis Dubordieu and Christophe Olivier, in some of the most important wineries in the world such as the Châteaux d’Yquem, Margaux and Cheval Blanc.
“The more a wine is concentrated and rich in phenolic components the better its resistance in small wooden casks. But even if a wine can resist an excess of wood it does not mean that it is right to impose such an ageing on it”. From this starting point Valérie develops her philosophy for the great red wines from Montalcino. “Brunello must age in barrel at least two years. For such a long ageing process the maker must choose a container which permits it to benefit from the advantages associated with the use of wood (oxygenation, clarification, bringing aroma and taste) and at the same time maintain the personality of the wine (fruit, freshness and balance). The wood must not dominate the wine, it must remain an aid, an “épice”. Here is her opinion “This result is obtained best using barrels”.
The French wine maker intends privileging perfect harmony in the Brunello; this is a distinctive trait in great wines. To obtain this harmony she proposes some golden rules: if a wine must change container during its ageing in wood it is preferable to start with smaller ones and then continue with the lager sizes. The necessity for oxygen in fact decreases with time. But once again she insists on tonneuax (5 hl) and barrels which “permit more than barriques (especially if old) the preservation of the aromas of the Sangiovese from Tuscany and avoiding that the dryness of tannins disturb the balance of the wine”. This refers to the slightly bitter finish which Ms. Lavigne calls “dry”, present in many Tuscan wines made with Sangiovese and not very appreciable from a quality point of view.
So it’s “Hurray for barrels”! An affirmation which seems a return to the past yet contains new elements in its increased respect for the cultural identity of the wine, it also comes from some scientific motivations which are irreproachable. This approach is on the same wavelength with Valerie Lavigne’s enthusiasm for the autochthonous grape varieties –Sangiovese e Foglia Tonda.
During her last visit to Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s wineries, from November 23rd to 25th, the French winemaker has tasted the wines from the 2010 vintage giving them an amazing evaluation. Her last discovery is the Sagrantino imported from the nearby Umbria (18 km) to the Fattoria del Colle vineyards in Trequanda which, in her opinion can be an excellent partner for the Sangiovese in the wines produced in southern Tuscany.
Barrels and Italian autochthonous grape varieties have consequently a new standard-bearer and we are very satisfied that these positive opinions come from a French woman.
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