A great invitation came my way to meet the owner of an Italian winery and taste three of his wines with about 40 other professionals. This time it was:
“…Join us via Zoom as Count Francesco Marone Cinzano, owner of Col d’Orcia, shares a first taste of his new 2016 Brunello di Montalcino 5-star release, together with two other top wines from his organically farmed estate…Poggio al Vento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013 – another stellar, 5-star vintage – and Olmaia Sant’Antimo Cabernet DOC 2015 (great vintage as well!) All three wines are produced entirely with organically grown grapes farmed on the Col d’Orcia estate and bottled on location.”
Takeaways from Time with The Count
Let me start by saying that right off there was something Capra-esque and Cary Grant-ish about Count Francesco Marone Cinzano, as he warmly greeted our group from Col d’Orcia (pronounced Col-Door-Cha) with amazing photos of his property while wearing a vineyard colored green scarf and jacket that was in perfect “balance” for the scenery.
- Fifty percent of the land in Montalcino is natural woodland.
- They are located in a natural park, and a designated UNESCO territory.
- The Count feels “a duty” to “protect the environment” that he has inherited.
- There is an oak tree in the vineyard that is four and a half centuries old, and is a “symbol of care for nature.”
- They have invested a lot into Research and Development. Though going 100% organic wasn’t so difficult as “little had to be done to do so.”
- The Brunello is 100% Sangiovese grapes. The wine is made to be paired with food, which is the “concept of drinkability and food pairing.” The wine also has an “incredible intensity in aroma and taste.”
- The soil is a mix of clay, sand and a high level of limestone that gives “quality” to the “tannins.”
- Families, and their pets, have been on the estate for decades. As well as a bee population, grains to make pasta and other animals that live there include sheep, goats, poultry and pheasants.
- “A happy winemaker produces a good wine…(and they also have) “the fruit of a magic formula.”
- They grow Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and other wine grapes on the property.
As one of the original estates of Montalcino and now the largest certified organic estate in Tuscany, Col d’Orcia is a leader in Brunello di Montalcino, helping to define and promote one of Italy’s most prestigious wine regions. Tradition, integrity and sustainability are the pillars of the estate, whose classic style wines are celebrated all over the world. Proudly defined as an ‘organic island,’ Col d’Orcia is committed to maintaining the natural environment in which it operates and has, for many years, employed organic farming practices.
About the Family
Col d’Orcia has a rich winemaking history dating back to the 1700s. Today, the estate is owned and managed by Count Francesco Marone Cinzano. A world traveler with boundless energy, the Count is a tireless ambassador for his estate as well as the Montalcino region. Under his leadership, plantings have expanded exponentially at Col d’Orcia and the estate has been transformed into an organic farm.
My Notes on the Wines (in italics), following notes from the technical sheets
Brunello di Montalcino 2016
14.5% alcohol. On aging, “4 years, 3 of which in 25-50 and 75 hl oak casks from Slavonia and Allier followed by at least 12 months of refinement in the bottles placed in storage at controlled temperature.” $59.99
This wine is a blend from all of the vineyards in the estate. Lots of red berries on the nose, as well as earth, Italian plums, and spice all in a nice balance on the nose. The taste delivered those same fresh and fruity red berries, tannins and a crispness noted by the Count.
Poggio al Vento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013
15% alcohol, “The wine is aged a minimum of six years prior to release; four years in Slavonian and French oak casks followed by at least two years refinement in bottle.” $162.99
This Riserva is a limited release with less than 12 thousand bottles and could age for quite some time, according to the Count, 10 more years or so. The Count called it an “elegant” wine and none of us disagreed. The nose was huge with notes of red fruit again, but also whiffs from a well-tended vegetable garden, peppery and lots of minerals. Going in for a taste I found it both lively and spicy with medium tannins and acidity. I was craving the pasta I planned for dinner about now.
Olmaia Sant’Antimo Cabernet DOC 2015
14.5% alcohol. Aging notes include, “The wine is aged 18 months in new French oak barriques and a small portion in American barrels, followed by a further 8 months refinement in bottle.” $68.99
The name Olmaia means Elm Tree in Italian according to the Count. This Cabernet, of course, was nothing like the red fruit of a Sangiovese. It was all dark fruit, sweet tobacco, milk chocolate with a creamy balance between the fruit and spice on the nose; on the palate came the same notes, but also dark and dusty fruit, and what the count referred to as “herbs, spices and minerality.”
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits