“With the rich red of Coltibuono’s wine in the glass in my hand, I felt I was suddenly amidst and part of a long history” ~ Murakami Haruki – author
Chianti is an area of Tuscany that is famous for its red wines by the very same name, made from Sangiovese. The Chianti region is known for its panoramic landscapes, genuine local cuisine, art scene, and rich history. Badia a Coltibuono is very much a part of Chianti Classico’s history and culture.
Badia a Coltibuono – History & Prominence
Located in Gaiole in Chianti, Badia a Coltibuono is an ancient place with a history that dates back to 1051. Making it one of the oldest and most important wineries in Chianti Classico. Badia a Coltibuono was established as an abbey (Badia) in 1051 by St. Giovanni Gualberto, the founder of the Vallumbrosan Order of Benedictine monks. The abbey’s name, Coltibuono, can be translated as “Good Cultivation or Good Harvest”, indicating the importance of viticulture there. The Abbey had a prominent and glorious history, the name Chianti first appeared in one of the historic documents of Badia a Coltibouno. The abbey grew in size over the centuries, and it is presumed that they made wine. It was a fully functioning abbey until Napoleon dissolved it in 1810 with the secularization of the Church.
In 1846, Badia a Coltibuono was purchased by the Stucchi Prinetti family. The Stucchi’s are considered pioneers of Chianti, having invested in this land since 1846. Today Emanuela, Paolo, and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti are owners and managers of the property.
I had the opportunity to chat and taste with Roberto Stucchi, who has the honor of carrying on the legacy of this incredible 1000-year-old abbey. Roberto graduated from UC Davis with a degree in viticulture and enology and has been the winemaker at Badia a Coltibouno since 1985.
The sprawling and majestic property encompass 150 acres of vineyards and 50 acres of olive trees. The vineyards are primarily planted to Sangiovese, the region’s most noble grape variety. With a vision to maintain the heritage of Chianti Classico, Roberto and his family have also planted the traditional varieties of the region like Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda, Malvasia Nera, Mammolo, Pugnitello, and Sanforte (as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia for Vin Santo).
A Leader In Organic Viticulture
Badia a Coltibuono is a leader in organic viticulture. They began the conversion to organic very early on. In 1985 when Roberto first came on as winemaker, he eliminated the use of herbicides and insecticides. The transition to becoming fully organic took about a decade. Roberto says, “we converted to organic long before it was fashionable”. They were one of the first in Chianti to farm organically and today, Roberto is working with the entire region of Chianti to move towards organic viticulture.
Visiting Badia a Coltibuono
Badia a Coltibuono is one of the most historic and important of the Chianti estates. Roberto has spent a great deal of effort expanding and modernizing the estate. They replanted the vineyards and built a modern winery 20 years ago. They also finished converting the monastery into an agriturismo with a restaurant. One of the highlights for visitors is personalized tastings and cooking classes. The cooking school is directed by Lorenza dé Medici, an internationally known author and writer of books on Italian culture and cooking.
Tasting The Wines Of Badia a Coltibuono
2019 Cultusboni “Colmaia” Organic Sangiovese Toscana IGT (SRP: $13)
Cultusboni is a 100% Sangiovese with no oak treatment. This is the first vintage produced of this wine that is made only from their own vineyards. It is an affordable everyday Sangiovese. There are bright and expressive notes on the palate with a touch of spice that is typical of Sangiovese. A wonderful wine to sip as an aperitif with its fresh, fruity, and juicy characteristics.
2018 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG (SRP: $22)
Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico is the flagship wine that they produce from estate fruit. It is a wine representative of their philosophy and vision made with a traditional blend of 90% Sangiovese; 10% Colorino, Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo. This is a quintessential Chianti with notes of spice, cherries, and tobacco. An expressive wine on the palate with dark fruit, sage, and earthy notes. Crisp acidity and fine tannins leave a memorable finish.
2016 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva (SRP: $36)
Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva is made from a selection of the finest grapes of the vintage. The highest level of care is taken to produce the Riserva in order to maintain the natural expression of Sangiovese. As the wine evolves in the glass you appreciate its complexity and sophistication. This Riserva clearly expresses the greatness of Sangiovese.
2015 Badia a Coltibuono “Montebello” Toscana IGT (SRP: $61)
Montebello is one of my favorites from the lineup. This is a blend of nine of Chianti’s most important indigenous red varieties in equal parts, about 11% each of Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Fogliatonda, Malvasia Nera, Mammolo, Pugnitello, Sanforte, and Sangiovese. Each grape is harvested separately. This is a single vineyard wine that is defined by the blend. Black fruits, spice, tobacco, and earthy notes coat the palate. Showing great complexity, this wine is has a combination of elegance and personality. An outstanding wine with only 3000 bottles produced.
2011 Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC (SRP: $46)
Vinsanto is the classic dessert wine of Tuscany. Vin Santo has probably been produced at the Coltibuono Abbey for almost a thousand years, and since
1846 in the family. It is an intense and complex wine, made by drying the grapes indoor, Trebbiano and malvasia. varying style of Vin Santo, this has good concentration without excessive sugar levels, notes of honey, vanilla, chestnuts, and dried fruits. Incredibly luscious, balanced bright, and fresh. This is a very complex wine.
** Pictures Courtesy of Badia a Coltibuono **