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
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.
It is in fact the harmony that distinguishes Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s Brunello di Montalcino. Harmony is the characteristics that man has always looked for in all of his artistic works: music, painting, architecture … it is a perfect equilibrium that one wants, that in appearance seems simple, natural and that on the contrary needs a lot of work. Especially in the vineyard. At Casato Prime Donne an organic system is used, in an assiduous and manual way all year round. In the winter crops are planted between the rows of Sangiovese vines, then the hoeing begins, the scissor are used ( Simonit&Sirch pruning method) and hands … until grape harvest time. When the grapes are picked the day is decided thanks to tasting the grapes and dividing the Vineyard into small areas so as to bring into the cellar the grapes on the day that they are completely ripe. The team of 8 pickers, who usually care for the 16 hectares of vineyard at Casato Prime Donne, is increate by the arrival of lots of young pickers because the grapes much reach the winery in less than half an hour.
The cellar staff is made up of only girls, Casato Prime Donne is the first in Italy, and was born as a challenge to demonstrate that great wines are born from intelligence and passion not from muscles and that women can make them just as men can. Actually it is the care and attention of the women on the sorting tables, looking for the best grapes that make the difference.
There are two fermentation areas, where grapes become wine: the traditional one, since 2016 houses small cylindrical vats made of concrete and eggs still in concrete with no fibreglass coating. These are the same containers used in the best wineries in Burgundy. Outside is the Tinaia del Vento, built next to the vineyard to vinify the Brunello wit indigenous yeasts. There are 8 truncated cone shaped stainless steel vats, open on top. In both of the fermentation areas plungers facilitate the vinification without the use of pumps. This system is similar to that used long ago, in convents; the more robust friars would submerge the grape skins pushing it under the must with poles. The Casato Prime Donne girls use a small engine to help must the system is identical.
The barrel ageing area contains oak tonneau and barrels. No barriques. The future Brunello rests in 5 and 7 hectolitre small barrels and then is moved into larger containers. Donatella, her cellar master Barbara Magnani and the consultant Valerie Lavigne have worked hard for years to find the most apt barrels. Gradually their preference has been for small artisan tonnellerie, where the oak is aged for 24 -36 months; the staves are cut following the nerves in the wood, just as used to be done more than a century ago. The result is practically a dress “made to measure” for the elegant and harmonious Brunello from Casato Prime Donne.
Some barrels have a red heart pinned on them. These indicate that they contain the best wine, the one that comes from a small area of the best vineyard, delimited with red flags, on top of the hill. From here comes the most complex and deepest of our Brunello, the one named IOsonoDONATELLA a selection of only 600 bottles where the owner tell her personal story from her degree in history of art to her passion for great red wines apt for a long ageing.
The Brunello di Montalcino by Donatella Cinelli Colombini is born here, where time seems to slow down and everything takes place like a century ago. A world of harmonies and attention for every single little detail.
Since 1998 when Donatella Cinelli Colombini received Casato Prime Donne from her mother, she gradually concretised a wine project, a wine with a distinctive character and an elegant harmony. And so now the Brunello, the Brunello selezione Prime Donne and the Brunello riserva obtain better and better ratings from the international press and are now exported to 34 nations.
Those who visit Casato Prime Donne will find a trail through the vineyards with contemporary art next to the quotations by special women IN the winery the explanations regarding the wines are accompanied with anecdotes from the local history and in 4 different locations it is possible to taste wine listening to music chosen by the sommelier musician Igor Vazzaz.