Vines and wines

Baccalà fritto e rifatto nel pomodoro

The Prime Donne conquer the  NY Wine Experience

Let me take you to the New York Wine Experience by Wine Spectator, this is the most exclusive wine tasting in the world, with the most important wineries in the world

by Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Montalcino, Casato Prime Donne



Here one finds Champagne Salon, Chateaux Lafite Rothschild, Chateaux Margaux, Opus One, Chateau d’Yquem, Penfolds… myths from the wine world. IN their midst I feel so excited, like a child. To be invited to the Wine Experience has always been a dream of mine but I really thought it would never be possible, like winning an Oscar or the Nobel Prize. But I am here and after only 18 years from the birth of my wineries.



Angelo Gaja, as always so kind, comes towards me in the Marriott Marquis hall where each producer has a table to pour their wine. He embraces me and says  <<they should have invited you sooner, you deserve this!>>. Among the producers are also Piero Antinori with Solaia and Lamberto Frescobaldi with Masseto but nobody gets the same reaction as a star like Angelo.

The French wineries have shipped all their wines in wooden cases and before the arrival of the guests they decant them. Noblesse oblige! There is a lot to be learned from them, but there are some Italian wineries that do the same, Sassicaia for example.

The Prime Donne at the NY Wine Experience: a dream come true

Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s Brunello flies to the NY Wine Experience, the famous tasting of the 250 top wines selected by Wine Spectator for their prestige and quality



It’s 18 years old, the young company of Donatella Cinelli Colombini (it was born in 1998) is of age now and it has received the most desired invitation of all, the debutantes’ ball of wine cellars.

The invitation to the Wine Experience, the tasting organized in New York by the prestigious American magazine Wine Spectator. A selection of the 278 best wines in the world selected for thier prestige and quality.

A tasting so exclusive that attracts winelovers from all over because here they are certain to find the best of the best and a lot of new products. The ticket costs 2.495$ and it has a limited number, and the tickets are purchased online until the fully booked. For Donatella Cinelli Colombini there has been another gift: hers is one of the 4



Brunello chosen to be part of the seminar. She will be speaking in front of 1.000 people, telling the story of a country house in ruins that becomes the first Italian winery with a staff of all women; and the story of the Ardita vineyard, a small piece of land about 2 hectars, that produces extraordinary grapes with an extraordinary qualitative continuity in the different vintages. A magical place for the cultivation of Sangiovese.

The Chianti Superiore in the TOP year of Organic

Chianti Superiore DOCG 2014 is old style for Donatella Cinelli Colombini: who appreciates a more traditional and easy to drink Chianti will love it!

Chianti Superiore DOCG - Fattoria del Colle, Trequanda

Chianti Superiore DOCG – Fattoria del Colle, Trequanda

2014 has been the year of the Organic, and those like us who have chosen this method to cultivate their vineyards, have brought to the winery grapes that were sound and especially apt to produce young wines. 86 days of rain, from April to October and an almost Nordic climate, have favoured the synthesis of perfumes in the grapes and the production of “old style” wines, elegant and easy to drink like those of thirty years ago.
The Chianti Superiore Docg 2014 is a wine with a typical Tuscan imprint, with tannins that are evident but well balanced by the fruit and a remarkable pleasantness that makes it easy to match with any dish: from the chianina ox tagliata to Indian or Chinese dishes.
Donatella Cinelli Colombini‘s Chianti Superiore is produced in Fattoria del Colle at 404 meters of altitude, on top of high hills that surround the Crete Senesi area. The vineyards are on ridges, in a position that is ventilated and well exposed to the sun; they have 5.500 vines per hectare that produce only a little over one kilo of grapes each one. Few grapes and a lot of manual work – both during the cultivation and harvest – they give us an excellent result. Vinification and ageing are carried out in the winery and cellar of Fattoria del Colle that is placed right among the vineyards.

Drago e le 8 Colombe IGT Toscana 2013

The story of Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s Supertuscan dedicated to a man in the all women winery

Drago e le 8 Colombe IGT Toscana 2013

Drago e le 8 Colombe IGT Toscana 2013

The wine “Il Drago e le 8 Colombe” has a strange name because it has a curious beginning. It is produced in Donatella Cinelli Colombini‘s wineries, where the staff are all women, represented by the 8 doves on the label: Donatella, her daughter Violante who together with Debora takes care of wine sales, Alessia who is in charge of the incoming, Barbara the cellar master with her helpers Antonella and Margherita, and last but not least Valérie Lavigne the wine maker. A formidable team flanked by the men and women grape growers but also by Donatella’s husband Carlo Gardini, who has created a range of sweet wines for this winery. He is the dragon in the label to emphasize a male presence in an all female winery, which is feminine not feminist. Il Drago e le 8 Colombe is a “Supertuscan” a Tuscan wine not covered by a DOC regime. To begin with this type of wine included those of modern style and high quality. It was created in the 1970’s as a reaction to the rules of the appellations that limited the possibility of experimenting. Practically a rebellion against tradition, and this was sustained by the press and by America consumers. Later the Supertuscan became IGT Toscana appellation, and in some cases (such as Sassicaia) they become DOC. Il Drago e le 8 Colombe is an IGT Supertuscan produced at Fattoria del Colle.

Medals in competitions, too many and some for counterfeit wines

English wine competition reward up to 70% of wines with medals while the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles carries out tests to catch those who falsify bottles

The Italian jurt at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

The Italian jurt at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Brunello, Casato Prime Donne


A very interesting article by Wine News underlines the excessive number of medals of the English wine contests. According to OIV there should be less than 33% whereas the various contests by  “Decanter” awarded medals to 70% of the participants   and <<“The Drinks Business”, regardless of a jury made up practically of only Masters of Wine, actually awarded in one go medals to 90% of the Champagnes>> state ironically Wine News. A situation that could be connected to the price to be paid for every one of the 16.000 bottles in the first of the competitions mentioned and that was put into evidence by “La Revue du Vin de France”.

Medals from the International wine competitions -International-wine-challenge

Medals from the International wine competitions -International-wine-challenge

The  “Vinalies Internationales” seem to be much more rigorous, they give medals to 29,8% of the 3.500 competitors and the  Concours mondial de Bruxelles gives recognition to  28,2% out of  8.000.

Although the advantages go quite rightly to the sole winners of these competitions every medal, if well used, with commercial actions and with vip clients, can give an increase in wine price between  10-15% and an increase in winery reputation.

Brunello 2008 PrimeDonne primo piano bottiglia

Passito 2014 a sweet masterpiece

In Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s all female staffed wineries, the only man around is Carlo, lover of sweet wines and of this Passito

Carlo with the TRaminer grapes for passito

Carlo with the TRaminer grapes for passito

Producing passito is an annual ritual that captivates Donatella Cinelli Colombini and most of all her husband Carlo Gardini. A maniacal attention that is possible only because very few bottles are made and because Carlo Gardini and the cellar master Barbara Magnani  have unlimited passion for sweet wines. Their efforts have been rewarded with 93/100 for the 2013 production by Wine Advocate.

2014 was in fact the “organic” year, for those, like us at Fattoria del Colle, grow vines without the use of chemical products brought grapes home healthy and ripe. The At the beginning of September the pink clusters of Traminer grapes from the Sanchimento vineyard, surrounding the Chapel at Fattoria del Colle , were picked by hand, and chosen one by one. The cluster were then put into baskets to dry naturally.



This is the most laborious phase in the production because the cellar master Barbara Magnani  must move the grapes continuously according to the weather, if it rains for example. In 2014 the summer was rainy and cool, but at the beginning of September the sun came out and there were only three showers during the whole month. The good weather lasted all of October  while the baskets with the Traminer grapes continued being moved around to find every single ray of sunshine.

Irene Grandi cantante

A great Rosé from a fantastic harvest

Donatella Cinelli Colombini presents her Rosa di Tetto 2015 which was born from a 5 stars harvest

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosa di Tetto 2015

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosa di Tetto 2015

The 2015 harvest has without doubt been a fantastic one. 5 stars and with the ambition to be remembered among one of the best of the century.

The rainfalls that preceded the harvest in 2015 had two effects, the first negative and the second positive. The blooming was disturbed by the bad weather and this reduced the production of grapes, so the vintage resulted in being scarce. On the other hand the water trapped in the soil helped the vines resist the very hot month of July, in so creating the conditions for a gradual ripening of the grapes. The cool august completed the job and the difference in day and night temperatures favoured the synthesis of the aromas. The result is an excellent rosé.

Sanchimento, the white wine from the lady of reds

Donatella Cinelli Colombini presents her Sanchimento 2015 , her white wine from Traminer grapes that this year is better than ever

Sanchiemnto IGT Toscana 2015

Sanchiemnto IGT Toscana 2015

San Chimento and San Clemente were the same person: Pope Clemente 1st who died in Sebastopoli, maybe a martyr, at the end of the 1st century. In medieval documents the two names are often swapped and in the Sienese territory, crib of the Italian language, where still today there is a local vernacular surviving that is quite a conjunction between Latin and Italian, the names Chimento and Clemente continue to live together. So the chapel at Fattoria del Colle built by the owners ancestors, in 1592 is dedicated to San Clemente is surrounded by a farmhouse Sanchimento pronounced and written all in one word. Sanchimento is also the name of a wine obtained with Traminer grapes that are grown near the chapel in the Sanchimento property.

The 2015 harvest was particularly favourable for the vineyards thanks to a very rainy

Sanchimento 2015 with Traminer grapes

Sanchimento 2015 with Traminer grapes

winter and spring that caused a natural reduction in clusters and a reserve of water in the soil. In August the great differences between day and night temperatures favoured the synthesis or perfumes and the production of wines particularly rich in aroma.

Type: dry white.

Production area: Tuscany, Trequanda, Fattoria del Colle.

Vintage characteristics: mild and rainy winter, spring with frequent rainfalls that  interfered with the blooming and caused a natural decrease in production. The vine vegetative cycle began very quickly and was roughly held back by a very hot July that brought the cycle back to normal. The colouring of the grapes began at the end of July and lasted two weeks. The moderate temperatures in August consented a slow and regular ripening of the grapes.

Orcia, the most tourist attracting wine region in Italy

In the wonderful land of DOC Orcia wine, the most beautiful wine in the world, 65% of the wineries have a restaurant or a country inn


Orcia Doc, Fattoria del Colle

Orcia Doc, Fattoria del Colle

The territory where the Orcia wine is born, south of Siena, is between the Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano wine regions, and is considered the most beautiful wine district in the world. Part of it is a Unesco world heritage site and it contains 13 municipalities, all rich in art and history, as well as thermal spa centres such as Bagno Vignoni, Bagni San Filippo, San Casciano dei Bagni and Chianciano Terme.

So the Orcia DOC wines come from a paradise like landscape that attracts tourists from all over the world. For this reason the Consorzio del vino Orcia has wanted to verify how many of its wineries are open to tourism. The result is extraordinary  65% of the wineries has a country inn or restaurant  <<In other words Orcia is the most touristic wine region in Italy>> said Donatella Cinelli Colombini president of the Consorzio.

Orcia Cenerentola with Roasted duck breast

Orcia Cenerentola with Roasted duck breast

The 13 municipalities of the wine region receive every year more than 1 million tourists and about the same excursionists, those who visit daily.  Also many foreign tourists own a second home in this area. Tourism is a strong source of finance in this area. This economy is intertwined with wine because the wine and food offer is perceived as an important component of the cultural exponent. In other words wine tasting, like a tour to an abbey, enriches the visitors with emotions and knowledge and is enjoyed with the same amount of interest.


Winery hotel, where the cellar is

In Stockholm the first hotel with barrels in the reception, it is called Winery Hotel and proposes weekends with wine just like a real winery

Winey hotel lobby with barrelsBy Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Brunello, Casato Prime Donne


Wine tourism success can be measured also with the increase of wineries everywhere, such as the Winery Hotel. Last year saw the revelation of the  “urban winery” with grapes arriving in crates in the middle of London and wine lovers paying to take part in the choosing of the grapes. Then the vineyard on a skyscraper in New York and a few months ago we saw the images of the domestic winery with wine making apparatus in the lounge. So competition is always stronger for the real wineries.

Winery Hotel wine bar with vatsThe last novelty is the Winery Hotel in Stockholm <<Sweden’s first combined urban winery and boutique hotel. This is in fact in Sweden, a nation where the climate has been up until now too cold to cultivate vines and so there are no wineries. But maybe it is because of this that the proposal of a winery hotel, where you can see the production process of wine and then taste it, can result in being incredibly attractive. In fact the invitation is << follow the freshly-picked grapes’ journey from barrel to bottle>> …  and finishes with the sentence: increase your wine knowledge.

Vinitaly IOsonoDONATELLA come and take a selfie in my place

Donatella Cinelli Colombini is hunting for a lookalike to photograph and propose on Instagram with the #iosonodonatella hashtag

vinitaly 2016 iosonodonatellaDonatella Cinelli Colombini’s Vinitaly stand (Hall 6 stand D4) becomes a photographic studio with a silhouette that playfully resembles her. The invitation is for friends, wine lover and buyers, to come and take a selfie or a photo in her place << #iosonodonatella and so are you!>> and to immediately post the image on Instagram, this is what the Signora del Brunello proposes.

Valerio Marini Donatella a Vinitaly 2016

Valerio Marini Donatella at Vinitaly 2016

In this occasion we open the Vinitaly doors also to those who stay at home, as anyone can join us in this game with the Donatella name and the prestigious Brunello 2010 IOsonoDONATELLA <<the best wine I ever made>>.

#iosonodonatella come and take a selfie instead of me

#iosonodonatella come and take a selfie instead of me

For the first time it is actually at Vinitaly <<we have made only 600 bottles and it sold out in 15 days that is why there was no time to organize tastings and presentations>> explains Cinelli Colombini proud of this rare and precious wine: on the bottle stands here crest in gold leaf, inside a shiny ring hat recalls her student studies on medieval jewellery. So at Vinitaly there will be a unique opportunity to taste Brunello IOsonoDONATELLA and even to take her place, at least for a moment.

US women must choose: sex or alcohol

The US authorities wish to make women choose between sex or alcohol and the Italian researchers discover that future fathers should also not drink

Sex or alchool: right drinks/birth control parings according to Katie Jean

Sex or alcohol: right drinks/birth control parings according to Katie Jean

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Casato Prime Donne

The indication by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages by women in fertile age. According to them half of pregnancies are casual and get recognized only after a few weeks. If the future mum drinks alcohol in the phase she is exposing the child to a risk of malformations. This is the reason for the advice, for fertile women, who do not use contraception, to never consume alcohol. As if to say sex or alcohol. This request has created a pandemonium as it forces women to choose between consumption of alcohol even moderate, and sex. Among the fiercest reactions is that by Katie Jean on Instagram who has published a sketch with the drinks apt for every type of contraception, so those using the pill should drink red wine as they are traditionalists, gin drinkers should use the contraceptive patch, while those who ask their partner to wear a condom is apt for drinking beer because they prefer things that are simple and varied.

sex and alchool - dangers for the baby

sex and alcohol – dangers for the baby

Even though this ironic image travelled the world over, the advice from the CDCP alarmed practically everyone but especially 4 million American women who might remain pregnant. In reality drinking alcohol during the first few days of a pregnancy is not so risky, while those who consume alcohol during the whole pregnancy might have a baby with Foetal alcohol syndrome or FAS, so with a small head a low IQ and heart problems.

Here's why Brunello di Montalcino is unique

What makes Brunello di Montalcino so special and inimitable? Here’s why the wine from every winery in Montalcino different and what makes Casato Prime Donne stand out

Brunello di Montalcino - Casato Prime Donne winery

Brunello di Montalcino – Casato Prime Donne winery

Montalcino Casato Prime Donne, Brunello barrels

Montalcino Casato Prime Donne, Brunello barrels

Montalcino is the place where the Sangiovese variety reaches excellence; the soils are from very old geological eras, the climate is favourable and the grape growers’ passion helps to create real masterpieces with just one grape variety: Brunello di Montalcino. Few territories the world over can produce wonderful wines with just one variety Burgundy with its Pinot Noir, the Rhone valley with  Syrah … these areas the soil vocation and the love of the grape growers unite perfectly. This also happens in Montalcino. At Casato Prime Donne for example, where there is a small hill facing south and with the Suga stream close by. The owner’s ancestors used to go to Casato by horse, to go hunting in the big woods that reached the sea. Already in 1592 they were paying taxes, for the products of their land. But it was Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s grandfather, Avvocato Giovanni Colombini, who emphasized this area with Sangiovese vineyards to produce Brunello. In the past few years thanks to the changes in climate the quality of the grapes has reached extraordinary levels. In fact the cool microclimate at Casato Prime Donne allows a slow and gradual ripening of the grapes and this gives the wine extraordinary elegance, harmony and complexity. 

Leone Rosso by the Lioness Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Leone Rosso Orcia Doc in a roaring new version. Harmonic, full, extremely pleasant and elegant is the perfect example of the 2013 harvest here in the DOC Orcia

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Leone Rosso harvest 2013 - grapes selection

Leone Rosso harvest 2013 – grapes selection

This wine Leone Rosso owes its name to the blazon which belonged to Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s ancestors, the Socinis, and old family ,who in 1592 built Fattoria del Colle which is where this wine comes from. Among the Socinis there were 5 heretics. Two of which –Lelio and Fausto – were particularly important opponents of the Catholic church and for this reason were excommunicated. Fattoria del Colle was confiscated and only in 1919 it was bought back by a Socini, great-grandfather to the present owner Donatella Cinelli Colombini.

Today the estate covers 336 hectares of which 17 of vineyard for the production of Chianti DOCG and Orcia DOC. This last denomination was created in the year 2000 in the beautiful and intact territory in southern Tuscany between the more famous Brunello and Vino Nobile territories.

The 2013 harvest has been described by Prof Attilio Scienza as “old style” with lower temperatures than in the previous years, soil plentiful of humidity and a traditionally long vegetative cycle that makes longer lasting more complex wines. The harvest was not very plentiful but excellent for those like Donatella Cinelli Colombini picked before the arrival of the rainfalls.

The 10 wine words, but not in English

Wine is in itself a universal message, but the history of wine is full of terms from all over the world and here are the 10 most used wine words

Julien Miquel explains the 10 most used wine words

Julien Miquel explains the 10 most used wine words

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

I often read the thoughts of Julien Miquel, a French wine maker, who lives in New Zealand and is an authentic social wine genius.  This year his Social Vignerons won the Wine Blog Award among the novelties. I suggest you follow him on Facebook, Twitter or on his blog or in Vivino because he opens up new horizons for you. Here I am quoting an article of his about the 10 most common wine words and you will discover the curiosities that only a super wine expert knows

"Riserva" is among the most common wine words 

“Riserva” is among the most common wine words

Wine for Julien is like an actor that doesn’t need an interpreter to be understood << But there are a few wine terms that keep popping up on wine labels all the time. So you are simply better off understanding their meaning if you want to know what you’re buying>>

So here is Julien Miquel’s wine dictionary with the 10 most popular non-English wine words that appear on back labels, because as everyone knows the front label is nearly always the work of a graphic artist, while the obligatory by law information and the explanations are always on the back.

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