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Cenerentola Doc Orcia, a wine with a crown

2016  old style harvest that excites wines lovers and puts a crown on the Cenerentola DOC Orcia label

A vintage this 2016 to be framed: depth, complexity, and finesse, and  longevity, characteristics that only a slow ripening of the grapes can give to a wine.

The Sangiovese, main variety used in Cenerentola DOC Orcia (together with Foglia Tonda), produces grapes that are meteoropathic, so can go mad and ruin if the climate is adverse. Its skin is made up of few layers of cells so it needs the help of the sun to express itself at its best. For this reason in the high hills of Southern Toscana, where the climate is dry but cool, Sangiovese has its ideal habitat and reached levels of excellence impossible elsewhere in the world.


There were surprises regarding the harvest date too: the vines had sprouted a good 15 days earlier than usual, and everyone, including us, thought that the harvest would have been precocious one. On the contrary already when the veraison happened (changing of the colour of the grapes from green to blue) the calendar of the vegetation cycle was already aligned with the traditional one, then the ripening proceeded regularly and slowly. In 2016 for the first time in a long time, the clusters reached the time of harvest at  a snail’s pace with a mass of sugar in the berries growing slower than the poliphenolic ripening, that of the noble substances in the skins. In 2016 the first semester of the year was very rainy, the soil was hydrated in depth creating reserves for the hot months, but also disturbing the flowering to such a point that the number and dimensions of the clusters  was drastically reduced. Then a topsy-turvy summer arrived. With hot days –over 35°c- alternated by storms of great violence, and the wine producers have been really scared that the hail would arrive. Those who like us were saved from the calamity, have had one of the best harvest man can remember.

The life of a wine producer: Donatella and her time

Donatella’s race with time, wine producer, wine blogger, president of various associations with an ambition to enjoy the wonderful territory where she lives

Donatella- University- of Pisa-teaching -wine-tourism

Donatella- University- of Pisa-teaching -wine-tourism

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria del Colle – Trequanda, Casato Prime Donne, Montalcino

The worst day is Monday, and the most frenetic periods are those before and after trips abroad. Very long days with one interruption after another.

The arrival of internet has worsened the situation multiplying contacts and making holidays practically eclipse. I receive around 80 emails a day and I send off about 30. I have a very small portable computer that goes everywhere with me a, so I reply to the post even when I am away and have one wine tasting after the other and one appointment after the other. In fact when I am on the other side of the world some people seek my attention like a child pining for its mother and they write to me constantly, and in the end I reply quite curtly. After I am sorry and it takes me days to get the rapport back to normal, but I hate it when people deprive me of time when I want to think , sleep, and do things….. making me feel trapped.



This is how my holidays on my beloved isle of Gozo get reduced to three hours a day, because there is a problem, that to be solved from there takes lots of time. It is practically impossible because in the countryside there is no tradition in making appointments. Cellar staff, grape pickers, sales and tourism staff all come into my office and demand immediate attention, especially my lovely husband and volcanic daughter Violante.

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

Fattoria del Colle New year's eve

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


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.

The oldest and most noble Christmas cake is called Panforte

Pan Forte and Vin Santo Fattoria del Colle

Pan Forte and Vin Santo Fattoria del Colle

In Siena the Christmas cake that is a must is called Panforte born as peppered bread to give energy it became a noble cake in honour of Queen Margherita


Without panforte Christmas would not be Christmas for Donatella Cinelli Colombini!

The old tradition of this Christmas cake from Siena goes back about a 1000 years . The name PanForte (Panes Fortis) came from the fact that the water in the fruit used to make the cake, kept it soft but at the same time gave origin to moulds which gave and acidic taste to the cake as well.

In 1505 the Panforte began to be a great success thanks Sister Berta, who, worried about the health of the soldiers. She modified the recipe so that is might become energetic for the body and spirit, adding an abundant dose of pepper (Pan Pepato)

During the years the Panforte has not been changed much until 1879 when Queen Margherita di Savoia came to visit the Palio city. Her visit was anticipated by an inspection by her chamberlain who also had the job of choosing the dishes for the “royal palate”. He had a more delicate version prepared for her eliminating the melon and substituting the pepper covering with icing sugar. That is how the Panforte Margherita was born

At Fattoria del Colle the panforte is prepared by the pateisseur and served freshly baked during the Christmas holidays and most of all during the New Years Eve dinner. Hopefully we can soon get back to normal in 2021!


Pan Forte, recipe

Ingredients Pan Forte Fattoria del Colle

600 g of candied orange and cedar, 300 g of almonds and 200 g of toasted hazelnuts, 200 g of acacia honey, 150 g of sugar, 3 eggs, 100 g of vanilla sugar, 5 dried figs, 150 g of flour, 30 g of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, greaseproof paper and hosts (to be bought in a chemists)

Wine cats

After the winery dogs, now the wine cats, in other words 4 legged friends become a necessary presence in  boutique wineries

Read for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini 

Wine cat

There is a legend about cats in the Vinsanto lofts in the Chianti region. Nobody has ever seen them but everyone talks about these felines that used to spend their whole life in the dark lofts protecting the small vinsanto barrels from the mice. In truth is does rather seem a tale because the places most loved by these hungry mice were the cellars and most of all the places where cold cuts, cheeses and nuts were stored. But for centuries cats have been welcomed in country homes and in cellars where excellent wines are made thanks to the passion of the producers who live there. These wineries are called “boutiques” small establishments where the owner has his home, surrounded by the vineyards, kept like gardens.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini presents herself part 2

In 1998 when I left my family’s estate (one of the oldest and most prestigious producing Brunello) to create my own, that bears my name, it really seemed a “mission impossible”By Donatella Cinelli Colombini[caption id="attachment_10091" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Donatella Cinelli Colombini Cavaliere della Repubblica"][/caption]Again like in my other troubled chellenges I had no money, in fact with debts much superior to the income and two wineries with buildings to be renovated, vineyards to be replanted, cellars to be built and more importantly no sales network.. Now we sell wine to 31 foreign nations.  I have in the meantime understood that it...

Ricciarelli: the recipe for the typical Christmas cakes from Siena

The home made freshly baked ricciarello is the nicest cake in the world. It has a taste of Tuscany, of Christmas, of local traditions and affection

Nothing at all to do with the commercial ones!

Advice for gluttons from Donatella Cinelli Colombini

 Ricciarelli and Vin Santo_Fattoria del Colle

Ricciarelli and Vin Santo_Fattoria del Colle


Traditional, easy and fragrant, it helps you rediscover the pleasure of almond paste. The ricciarello is the Sienese Christmas cake and since 2010 it is a product protected with the IGP certification. A traditional delicacy from as far back as man can remember. It seems that the oldest recipe is a document in a convent in Buonconvento  20 km from Fattoria del Colle. Its name has a legendary source and come s from the Crociato Ricciardetto della Gherardesca who it seems brought the recipe from theMiddle East.

However the word ricciarello appears only in the 19th century so centuries and centuries after the crusades. Most surely the use of almond paste came about in the houses of the rich Sienese bankers from the southern part of the Mediterranean, prior to the 15th century, because from that era one was served  “marzapani alla costuma senese” or “morzelletti” probably prepared in convents.

The most appropriate wine for this very Sienese delicacy is the Vin Santo, the most traditional dessert wine in Tuscany. Want some proof? As soon as it will be possible again come to Fattoria del Colle and you will find both!

Read the recipe below!

A tour in a winery in Tuscany to discover traditions

I would have never thought that some of the old traditions I have discovered during my working experience at Fattoria del Colle were the same I already knew and grew up with. It has simply been a rediscovery.I was born in Chiusi, a small village located on the border between Tuscany and Umbria, south of Siena. It is an old town with Etruscan origins surrounded by countryside and small lakes.I have always wished to leave the countryside, and sometimes I did, to look for different spaces, different ways of living and views. Always very nice![caption id="attachment_7467" align="alignleft" width="298" caption="the kitchen...

Massage therapy and Spa during your holiday in Tuscany

Regenerate with massages, heat, relax and Jacuzzi in front of a magnificent panorama, this is what is on offer for guests coming to Fattoria del Colle on holiday[caption id="attachment_7282" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jacuzzi con vista sulla Val d'Orcia"][/caption]In the wellness centre at Fattoria del Colle the massage room is ready. It is an intimate and comfortable place where the same character of the whole structure is re-proposed with its old stone walls, tile frames with floral designs, windows over a beautiful breathtaking panorama … there is even an old cloche hanger to get away from the “new feeling “ of the...

Grape harvest weekend in Tuscany

Take part to the grape harvest of Brunello wine and Chianti in the vineyards, in the cellar and sit at the table of Donatella Cinelli Colombini restaurant[caption id="attachment_7225" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="grape harvest at Fattoria del Colle"][/caption] An unique experience to discover how the great tuscan red wines such as Brunello, Chianti Superiore and Doc Orcia are  produced. You will meet new friends, you will sleep in the houses of the ancient farmers and you will live a funny day between vineyards and cellars during the grape harvest with technical wine tasting and tasty dishes from Crete Senesi and Val d'Orcia. Sunday, before...

Your wonderful wedding in Tuscany

For those who desire a romantic wedding beautiful landscapes and nature are perfect frames. At Fattoria del Colle – country inn in Tuscany you get the best[caption id="attachment_7015" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Wedding at Fattoria del Colle"][/caption]The most requested location is the Belvedere, a horse-shoe shaped area surrounded buy a seating and roses. Three pillars mounted with a terracotta pine cone delimit the entrance and the centre of the curve. Behind the alter the panorama is wonderful and to the side a row of cypress trees assures shade during the summer afternoons.Then there are the lawns in front of the Val d’Orcia...

The Swiss people, Pine Nuts and the Mantovana cake

As I was driving along the road, a few miles away from the Fattoria dalla Colle, I saw two children and a very tall man who were searching for pine nuts under a tree alongside the road. I said to myself  “How strange! It is years since I have seen children searching for pine nuts like that”. Then I noticed that the car had a Swiss number plate and then I understood. In the  Swiss Alps you cannot  easily collect edible pine nuts from the trees so for this family searching for pine nuts is like the equivalent of us Tuscans being excited about being able to pick bananas straight from the trees in Egypt.  It is a totally new experience.

I kept pondering and reflecting about this image and after a while it occurred to me how much growing up as a child in Tuscany has changed since I was young, even in the most simple little things such as this. Today there are so many video games and other distractions which encourage  children to  play insided, away from the Natural environment which surrounds them.

Before it wasn’t like that. In the Summer when I was a child I used to spent the entire afternoon with my friends collecting  pine nuts and then crushing them on the wall. As a child I was almost addicted to the consumption of these pine nuts. My grandmother was so worried about how many I ate that she made someone  cut down all the pine trees and made them take them away. Luckily after a few years I forgot all about them.