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The end of a myth: it is business that makes a terroir

In Burgundy in 15th century, Port and Chianti in the 18th century and Champagne in the next hundred years, it has been the commercial success to give vineyards their value

 

Terroir-gallo-nero-symbol -Chianti-Classico

Terroir-gallo-nero-symbol -Chianti-Classico

by Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Chianti superiore

Obviously politics, connections and other circumstances have had an important role but it is always wine business that generates richness that increases the value of the terroir and attracts investors.A prosaic explanation that might be true but certainly less charming than the idea that it is the quality of a wine that crates the myth and the value of a specific territory.This is the extreme synthesis what is said in the report by Giulia Meloni and Johan Swinnen published by Wine Economics, titled Trade and terroir: the political economy of the world’s first geographical indications.We can concentrate on the analysis of the Chianti region. After the Roman era where the eternal city was the centre of wine commerce, there came the medieval period where vineyards and wine commerce were abandoned. In the 15th century Florence and Siena held the main wine markets.

This corresponded to investments made in creating vineyards, building villas, carrying out of research and introductions of salaries for those who worked in making wines. The exporting of Tuscan wines takes off when the English-French war creates serious problems for the Bordeaux wineries and so the English traders begin to seek alternatives to the Chiaretto.

Terroir-origin-of-th-value-Chianti-Classico-Castello-di-Brolio-tomb-Bettino-Ricasoli

Terroir-origin-of-the-value-Chianti-Classico-Castello-di-Brolio-tomb-Bettino-Ricasoli

So the Grand Duke Cosimo III in 1698 cancels the ban on the exporting of wine and the impact is rapid: from 300 Hl exported in 1675 to 13.000 Hl when the ban was removed. The noble Florentine families– Antinori, Frescobaldi, da Verrazzano, Ricasoli .. got rich with their wines and understood the opportunity to protect their businesses. Under their pressure the Grand Duke III emitted another two notices in 1716 that delimited the production areas and the sale of Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano and Valdarno superiore. 

Cristina Cippitelli will be our first Master Sommelier

Cristina Cippitelli: the love for the soil comes from her grandparents in Gaeta but she has learned to taste in  Boston and Toronto and now she has won a  Master Sommelier scholarship

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Montalcino, Brunello

Cristina-Cippitelli-will -be-the-first-Italian -Master-Sommelir-

Cristina-Cippitelli-will -be-the-first-Italian -Master-Sommelier-

And I am not referring to the Alma-AIS institute title that a few years ago created reaction of indignation but I am talking of the Court of Master Sommeliers a fellowship born in 1969 that includes 240 members in USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Holland and France. These are the top of the sommelerie: tasters, journalists, opinion  makers, wine educators… these are competent professionals, of great talent and who have an enormous influence on the market.

Their president is the great Gerard Basset who is also a Master of Wine. But the Master Sommeliers are now rivals, for prestige and influence of the very powerful MWs, in fact in some cases they are even more powerful.

There is not one Italian among either the Masters of Wine or the  Master Sommeliers.

Cristina-Cippitelli-and-Donatella-Cinelli-Colombini

Cristina-Cippitelli-and-Donatella-Cinelli-Colombini

A sign of provincialism that also surfaces in International competitions: when ther are Italians on the podium they work abroad , just like  Paolo Basso. Also the young women who might become the first Italian Master Sommelier lives in Canada. Her name is Cristina Cippitelli, and she came to visit me at Fattoria del Colle , from Toronto where she works at the Air Canada Center while she is studying for the  Wset diploma and for the Advanced Certificate for the Master Sommelier.

She is a lovely person and has a great story that I will tell you.

Do we need many different wine glasses,or is one sole glass best?

wine-glasses-Jancis-Robinson

wine-glasses-Jancis-Robinson

by Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Brunello, Casato Prime Donne

One glass for all wines. This is not a new idea; in 2012 I took part in the Chateau Baccarat presentation, this was created by the most famous crystal ware producers in the world, with a story of polished crystals 250 years long, especially wine glasses. A revolutionary glass with a long stem to sustain the cup that has a practically flat base that widens and then goes straight up to a narrow mouth so as to concentrate the aromas in a funnel. Last year I heard about another project for wine glasses that are just as revolutionary, in Portopiccolo during the Donne del Vino national meeting; è has been created by Luca Bini for Italesse, three years of trials.

wine-glasses-Jancis-Robinson

wine-glasses-Jancis-Robinson

A very feminine glass that is also very versatile, but most of all able to emphasize any wine even though it was thought out for sparkling wines.

So now there is a right-about-turn with respect to the usual proposal of a glass for each and every wine, bubbles, young reds, aged reds, wines for meditation …  that fill our cupboards. Great wine taster and high end designers have worked on these new “millevini” wine glasses, . These are not low profile choices and the extortionate price of the Chateau Baccarat proves this.

Wine and bell peppers, a spicy union

I got the idea from Daniele Cernilli and his sweet and round bell peppers stuffed with tuna and matched with Vermentino Maremma DOC.  A desire for something different

 

wine-and-bell-peppers-Habanero

wine-and-bell-peppers-Habanero

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini Fattoria del Colle agriturismo with restaurant

 

All about matching wine and bell peppers

NAME AND HISTORY

Let’s start by saying that this vegetable comes from the Americas, probably Peru. It was brought to Europe during Christopher Columbus’s second transoceanic journey in 1493. The scientific name is “Capsicum” that comes from the Latin word “capsa” which meant box.  In America they called it chilli or xilli and still today maintains the name while the word pepper, used over here, depends on its similarity to pepper

Once arrived in Europe, the cultivation of bell peppers spread rapidly especially in the warmer climates around the Mediterranea

wine-and-bell-peppers-Capsicum-Malaysia

wine-and-bell-peppers-Capsicum-Malaysia

.CULTIVATION

This grows on a perennial plant with a short life, and is picked in June –July and September. To cultivate them the seeds must be planted in February and to increase their hotness, when the fruit has formed, one must reduce the watering, and doing so only when the leaves are droopy. The difference between red and green bell peppers, of the same species, depends only upon the level of ripening, the green ones are unripe.

tappi di sughero da vino

The most expensive whiskey in the world

These are two  bottles of The Macallan Scotch Whiskey from 1929 sold in Dubai for 1,2 million dollars, these are the most expensive whiskeys in the world By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Montalcino, Casato Prime Donne [caption id="attachment_12484" align="alignright" width="275"] Whisky più caro[/caption] These have been sold by the Le Clos wine store in...

Bordeaux 2017 vintage, limited but good

The Bordeaux 2017 vintage reserves some surprises to the wineries: limited grapes, excellent ratings but maybe a decrease in prices

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Montalcino, Casato Prime Donne

Bordeaux 2017 vintage Chateau Margaux

Bordeaux 2017 vintage Chateau Margaux

For Bordeaux 2017 the  en-primeur sales, 9-12 April, show an avalanche of excellent ratings regarding the main Bordeaux chateaux. But after a serious decrease in production because of the frost last year, the 2017 harvest is requested at lower prices by the great  négociants who buy wines from the harvest from wineries to put them on the market in 3 or more years time.

I have just been to Bordeaux and I have seen the vineyards just pruned. The vines that were damaged by the frost were well evident and I am sure that they will produce scarce grapes in 2018 too. A situation that worries greatly the wineries where the cellars contain less barriques than usual.

At Millésima, where I went to present my wines that have just been inserted in their portfolio, I met the CEO Fabrice Bernard. He is one of the BIG buyers at the  en-primeur auctions because Millésima is famous worldwide for having in its catalogue bottles from the greatest Bordeaux chateaux, that have been held in only two cellars:

Millésima-Bordeaux-prestigious wine store

Millésima-Bordeaux-prestigious wine store

the one of origin and his. Bernard’s words have a certain value in the market and he declared to Wine Searcher “I’m expecting prices to come down by 20 to 25 percent” .

The decrease in price reflects the French system of handling the petite vendange – the less perfect vintages. They decrease the price while we, in Brunello, decrease the quantity. In Tuscany we increase the production of  Rosso di Montalcino and leave only the best to the flagship wine. The result is a greater fluctuation in volumes of Brunello but a better consistency in the price and maybe even in the quality.

Colorado-megozio-cannabis

Wine for dogs, with some ethical doubts

Wine, beer, tea for cats and dogs. Drinks for animals are on the up, rigorously without alcohol. For those who want to drink in the company of their pets

Wine for dogs

Wine for dogs

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, agriturismo pet friendly, Fattoria del Colle

As all pet lovers know cats and dogs cannot drink alcohol, if they do there are great risks for their health. However they adore biscuits, snack etc that pet shops sell in small extremely expensive packets. So, I making the most of the fact that pet owners go mad and buy whatever is liked by their pests the American company Apollo Peak has created a section called Pet Beverage with white , red and sparkling wines. The products have fun names such as mosCato charDOGnay …and include also special tasting glasses for our four legged friends.

Wine-for-dogs-Apollo-Peak

Wine-for-dogs-Apollo-Peak

What is most incredible is the success, products that someone like me dog lover and wine producer, would never ever buy. This is what their message more or less says: you come home tired and you want a cuddle and glass of wine, why not share this pleasure with your cat? Ok, only that the so called wine for cats and dogs made with fruit juices and organic aromatic herbs (among which cat grass), contained in an 8 oz bottle, costs around 10 dollars. Sometimes more than the wine in the owner’s glass.

Women of Wine Festival and the Festa delle Donne del Vino

Debra Meiburg queen of wine in China and her event Women of Wine Festival connect with the Festa delle Donne del Vino that now becomes an international network.

Women of Wine Festival

Women of Wine Festival (WOW)

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Montalcino, Casato Prime Donne

Debra Meiburg is one of the best known experts in the world: she is the first Master of Wine in Asia and is a member of the Education Committee of the famous British Institute.  She is 7th among the most influential women in wine in the world according to Global Ranking, her TV show shown in Chinese taxis has 70 million viewers per month, and she is also wine consultant for Cathay Pacific airlines.

In 2008 she created the in Hong Kong a society called Meiburg Wine Media MWM with the scope of divulging wine culture in Asia. It is a real sort off “wine hub” the works in an immense scenario: from New Delhi to Tokyo, from Beijing to Jakarta.

Women of Wine Festival (WOW) Debra Meiburg and other influencers

Women of Wine Festival (WOW) Debra Meiburg and other influencers

It is for professionals of this market and for wine lovers but it is a point of reference for all press member of this sector, because, other than the traditional forming activities it offers innovative and stimulating services that allow buyers to explore emerging wines and new trends. A never ending job this, including wine competitions, wine tastings, festivals, workshops, where wineries meet buyers, banding actions and conferences that take abroad a better insight of the Chinese market and help wineries from all over the world to sell in Asia.

Sacred and profane Easter at Fattoria del Colle

Spirituality, nature, guided tours in the winery, tastings of fine wines, brief cookery lessons, and some gluttonous sins for Easter at Fattoria del Colle

Easter-Fattoria del Colle- Agriturismo - Tuscany

Easter-Fattoria del Colle- Agriturismo – Tuscany

Those who like to spend Easter with their family, with friends and with their four legged friends, will find at Fattoria del Colle in the most panoramic and unaltered Tuscany, their perfect location. The right mix of noble traditions and countryside informality, internationally acclaimed fine wines and homemade traditional dishes

In the program one finds also the guided tour with tasting at the Brunello winery Casato Prime Donne and at Fattoria del Colle , where there are also 4 historic halls in the 16th century villa, and stories, very romantic ones, from the history of the estate.

Easter- Vinoterapy

Easter- Vinotherapy-Fattoria del Colle

Two appointments not to be missed are: vertical tasting of 5 Brunello from  1999 to 2013 and a brief cookery lesson to learn how to make “pinci” a homemade pasta and to prepare a Springtime quick and delicious:  ricotta montata.

A special place in the program is held by the lunches and dinners, thse introduce the Tuscan civilization; Baccalà alla fratina from Trequanda for good Friday, then Peposo degli artigiani della terracotta , that legend attributes this invention to Filippo Brunelleschi creator of the dome of  Duomo di Firenze. The prince of the table is the Chianina steak, this white giant breed lives free on the hills around the estate, but has a long history that goes back to Roman times.

Corks and wine oxidation

Maybe corks are more magical than we thought, and as they change in time they preserve the wine. UC Davis University will study them for 100 years

Cork - Fattoria del Colle infernotto-

Cork – Fattoria del Colle infernotto-

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Montalcino, Brunello, Casato Prime Donne

<<An experiment that maybe will last more than life on earth>>commented  W. Blake Gray while talking to Wine searcher about the study going on in the major US agriculture university, the awesome UC Davis from where the majority of great American winemakers come out from.

To carry our an experiment that lasts 100 years is in fact something very difficult to understand in our society based on rapidity and now. It actually quite reminds one of the empiricism of the 18 hundreds, but that might be why it is well suited to a type of closure, that in the XVIII century, was perfected: the closure for glass wine bottles .The experiment starts from a mystery: why the oxygen that penetrates through the cork, one milligram per year, does not oxidize the wine?

cork-and-old bottles

cork-and-old bottles

We might think that it is the sulphur dioxide that gets inserted in the bottle (generally 20-25 milligrams per litre) that protects the wine, but it is in fact the oxygen that uses it up during 5-6 years, and so 10 years and more later there is nothing left to defend the nectar, as explained by professor Andy Waterhouse author of this intrepid research project regarding cork closures and wine oxidation.

The new bottles by celebrities

Wine, Whiskey, Vodka, Tequila, bottles by celebrities can be of all sorts and they make the most of their fame for products that are often commercial

bottles-by-celebrities--Lady-Gaga

bottles-by-celebrities-Lady-Gaga

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Doc Orcia, Fattoria del Colle

More and more famous people choose to bind their face to a wine or a spirit. It seems to be an irresistible attraction for stars. Maybe the idea is to multiply earnings through their fame, but not always does this work out. Some have earned a great deal like George Clooney who recently sold his Casamigos Tequila for 1 billion US dollars.. Others have been able to make their brands famous such as David Beckham with the whisky Haig Club by Diageo. The there are those who have had parallel successes in wine and in their artistic career without mixing things: such as Jay-Z, who owns Champagne Armand de Brignac. But there have also been some flops such as the concoction of juice and wine Hpnotiq Sparkle by the reality TV star Khloe Kardashian or the England team manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson with the Sven wine brand.

bottles-by-celebrities-Lady-Gaga-and-her-wines

bottles-by-celebrities-Lady-Gaga-and-her-wines

Here in Italy, after the wines by Al Bano, the better known cases of bottles by celebrities are those by Bruno Vespa and by Massimo d’Alema. I think though that they are realizing how difficult it is to reach success with a winery.

The Drinks Business presents us with 10 new bottles by famous people. A bit of everything, particularly odd products too. In most cases though a real question of business making the most of someone’s image.

Taylor Swift launches premium vodka, Big Machine Platinum Filtered and emphasizes its prestige because of the purest water from Tennessee, and of course the connection with the songs.

Lady Gaga to begin with wanted to call her wine range “Grigio Girls” like the song in her last album dedicated to her friend Sonja, who is fighting cancer. Then the name changed to  “Joanne Trattoria Vino Bianco” and “Joanne Trattoria vino Rosso” from the name of the Italian restaurant in New York owned by her father, Joe Germanotta.

Wine, good luck, and supersticious rites

Are there really wines that bring good luck, or at least are there superstitious rites regarding wine? Yes there are and not only in Italy

wine, good luck and supertitions -Fattoria-del-Colle- New -year's -eve

wine, good luck and supertitions -Fattoria-del-Colle- New -year’s -eve

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Wine, good luck and superstition. What is sure, and most know about this, is that there are some superstitious rites against bad luck that do regard wine: especially that it is very unlucky to pour with the left hand, “like a traitor” as Judas did during the last dinner. In certain areas of South Italy it is in fact considered offensive.

Also pouring wine with your palm facing upwards in inconvenient. This gesture is considered negative because many centuries ago, when in the courts the assassins used to kill with poison hidden in their rings. They used to shake the lethal powder into the glass, turning the hand that was pouring the wine upwards.

There are though also gestures that bring good luck  such if a few drops of wine get spilled during a toast, it is considered a good thing to dip your fingers in and touch behind the ears. This should make you rich.

Agriturismo-Toscana-Fattoria-del-Colle-panoramas and Brunello

Agriturismo-Toscana-Fattoria-del-Colle-panoramas and Brunello

But traditions that bind wine to good luck are not only Italian: in Spain it is a tradition (since 1909) to eat 12 grape berries during the last 12 seconds of the year, one for each bell strike, this is to bring prosperity for the next 12 months. Another good luck rite for the New Year comes from Germany, at midnight one should be dressed up, eat pink pig shaped marzipan sweets and drink Feuerzangenbowle (Fire punch) which is made with red wine, spices, orange peels and rum.

Donatella’s 2017: a rich year with a scarce harvest

With my best wishes for 2018, I am sharing some pleasant memories of 2017, that has been a really fantastic year, even though the grapes were scarce

New Year at Fattoria del Colle

New Year at Fattoria del Colle

Donatella Cinelli Colombini

2017 ,the year that has just finished, was one with fewer grape clusters but with great commercial successes. The Casato Prime Donne winery in Montalcino Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda sell wine in 37 nations and the wines from our vineyards is just about sufficient to cover all the requests. Actually for some wines like Rosso di Montalcino, Cenerentola DOC Orcia and IGT Drago e le 8 Colombe, we have sold the wines from two vintages finishing all the stock while the Brunello 2012 was rationed so we could reach Christmas. Our increase in sales shows a wonderful + 17% considering that Violante’s sales office had no Riserva to sell.

Cenerentola 2017-2018 New Year's eve at Fattoria del Colle

Cenerentola 2017-2018 New Year’s eve at Fattoria del Colle

This success is clearly also to attribute to the quality of the wines (well done the cellar girls!) and some is due to the vineyards, where a daily care of the plants – a return to old winter pruning systems and the organic regime – have permitted the production of excellent grapes even in vintages, such as the last, where the climate went a bit wild. The 2017 grape harvest was scarce especially at Fattoria del Colle where the soil is sandy and where the wild boar and deer have had a feast. After fencing off the vineyards in Montalcino next to be fenced off will be the vineyards in Trequanda.

The country inn and the restaurant went well too with a + 55% and even better the winery sales that are now a good 15% of the wine business.

Brunello 2013, an old style vintage

A Brunello that is elegant, complex, deep and harmonious, that will last decades. After the barrel ageing the Brunello 2013 results extraordinary
In 2013 the ripening of the grapes was slow and the harvest took place at the end of September. An “old style vintage”, as described by Attilio Scienza famous and esteemed Viticulture professor at the University in Milan.. He was the first to understand the quality potential of the vintage.
Lower summer temperatures than the previous years, soil rich in water and a long vegetative cycle are what characterize the 2013 vintage, and are those that traditionally make wines that last , that are complex and memorable.

Brunello 2013 Casato Prime Donne

Brunello 2013 Casato Prime Donne

This characteristics are associated with another element that is just as important: in 2013 the rain disturbed the flowering and so the number and size of the clusters was inferior to usual. The scarce vintages are nearly always the higher quality ones.
To begin with, however, not everybody foresaw the exceptionality of the Brunello 2013, that, subsequently, after the barrel ageing has demonstrated to be of extraordinary complexity, elegance and finesse. A similar situation to the 1999 vintage, that started slowly and then was acclaimed one of the best vintages of the 20th century.

Dirty glassware at the restaurant: a frequent problem

Residual soap, shoddy washings, dust …these are the most frequents problems with dirty glassware in restaurants , and the reasons why clients flee

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Agriturismo, Toscana, Fattoria del Colle

dirty-glassware-at-the restaurant

dirty-glassware-at-the restaurant

 

97% of British clients interviewed by Restaurant Show in London for a survey by the Classeq, declared that they would stop eating immediately if they discovered that they were using dirty glassware.

And the the British are not as fussy as the Japanese! Yet the idea of drinking out of dirty glasses blocks them, and how can one criticize them! The problem is more widespread than one thinks in the Cask beer report it says that one out of three glasses, among those where beer is served, is dirty, and that however 40% of them have defects (opaqueness, ruined rims etc)

dirty-gassware-at-the-restaurant

dirty-gassware-at-the-restaurant

Soap residue , or those of other chemical products left on glasses also by the glass makers can ruin the aroma and the taste of beer and wine.

Sommeliers have often underlined the necessity of “fresh” glasses to be able to offer an excellent experience to clients, and complain that this aspect is often underestimated because of bad washing equipment. To the hygienic problem the other problem is often added, smell from the detergents or of food in the case of dishwashers used for dishes, cutlery as well as for glasses.

Going back to hygiene, it is quite surprising to read the list of “the germiest things in a restaurant” taken from an  ABC News report divulged by Huffington Post Usa and then by the blog  cantello.it .

                                               

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