Badia a Coltibuono, organic Vinegrowing in Chianti Classico

We met the Tuscan winery Badia a Coltibuono during Life of Wine, the event that allows people to taste several vintages of the same wine, some of them no longer on the market. An unmissable cultural event that allowed me to appreciate in particular, the Chianti Classico Riserva produced by this company.

Badia a Coltibuono is a place out of time, that transfers the value of what has been achieved over the centuries, preserving its original structure dating back to the Middle Ages. The very name “Badia a Cultusboni”, means “good agriculture” or “good harvest” and dates back to the twelfth century. The history of the company, which stretches over 800 hectares among vineyards, olive groves and woods, is linked  to the Stucchi Prinetti family, one of the pioneers of Chianti production, and dates back to 1846. Six generations have succeeded in the ownership, always respecting the family history but also maintaining a commitment to the extraordinary Chianti region, with some milestones that have marked this beautiful history of wine.

For example, in the 1950s, when Piero Stucchi Prinetti started the renovation of the cellar into a modern winery, being among the first to bottle and sell its wine both on the national and international markets. Or more recently, when organic farming was adopted, with the aim of keeping the soil healthy and preserving it for future generations. At the same time, the biodiversity of the woods, the paths and rough roads that cross them, a fundamental heritage for the Chianti landscape, are safeguarded. They are not just simple paths, but are important travel routes, since Etruscan, Roman and Middle Ages times, dotted with precious hermitages and chapels; a landscape that settled over the centuries, between beauty, history and culture.

The choice of healthier and more sustainable agriculture dates back to 1985 with the decision to no longer use herbicides and insecticides, a truly pioneering choice at that time. Later, relevant studies were carried out on the selection of 600 mother vines that would then be used for replanting vineyards since 1988. Over the years, the organic approach has become more and more real, leading at the beginning, to the certification of the olive trees and then, in the year 2000 for the entire company. In the vineyard, which today covers 60 hectares, each plant is nourished by cover crops, green manure and organic fertilizers. These practices, together with the increase in biodiversity, are the cornerstones of a growing method that preserves the health of vineyard workers and of the environment. Today, the organic approach to viticulture is becoming more and more detailed and includes all business practices. With the creation of the “Chianti Biodistrict”, the challenge has been launched with aim that the whole region would be managed in a sustainable way following the principles of organic farming.

The vineyards are located at altitudes between 270 and 330 meters above sea level. The prevailing aspect is to the south, on terraced clayey-calcareous soils in the Monti area, in thesouthern part of the municipality of Gaiole in Chianti. Here the massale selected Sangiovese grape finds ideal conditions and remains the main character of the Chianti Classico Riserva that we tasted. In the Chianti winemaking tradition, the blend accounts for complementary varieties such as Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and Colorino, while other historic grape varieties such as Mammolo, Malvasia Nera, Pugnitello, Fogliatonda and Sanforte have been reintroduced by the producer.

Built in 1997 as a modern fortress, while also respecting the landscape and with attention to environmental sustainability, the cellar allows the utmost care in all stages of winemaking and aging processes, enhancing the characteristics of complexity and elegance of the wines. To produce the Chianti Classico Riserva, the grapes are processed taking advantage of the gravity. The fermentation starts with ambient yeasts and lasts for about three weeks, while some plungers optimize the extraction carrying out punching down. The maturation takes place in French and Austrian oak barrels for 24 months, then the wine still spends 4 months in the bottle.

Let’s move on to the story of the vertical tasting.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2018

The spring temperatures, were higher than the seasonal averages and led to early budding, that was matched by frequent rainfall in May. In June, there was an increase in temperature, balanced by incidental summer rains. The ideal weather conditions and the organically managed soil, that was particularly receptive to rainwater, favoured a balanced growth of the berries. The quality of the grapes harvested was excellent.

In the glass the wine shows a concentrated and deep ruby colour. On the nose, it reveals notes of blackberries blueberries, that arealternated with floral tones, as well as  balsamic and tobacco nuances. On the mouth, the wine starts with a dynamic aspect, in which the tannic texture is integrated with elegance into the excellent body. The finish is long with a balsamic aftertaste.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2017

After an extremely dry winter, the summer was exceptionally warm, with little rainfall. Given the extreme drought, the problems in the vineyard were major, with associated reduced yields. On the other hand, the quality was excellent thanks to the canopy being carefully managed and the extraordinary impact-strength of the Monti soils, due to good clay content and to many years of organic management with the use of cover crops and green manure. Thanks to these techniques the soil is more receptive to rainfall and less likely to dry out in prolonged drought conditions.

It is an intense ruby red wine in colour. On the nose, it reveals hints of wild cherry, as well as floral aromas of violet and elegant balsamic notes, followed by hints of toasted chocolate and licorice on the finish. A full-bodied wine, that is pleasant and enveloping in the mouth, already balanced between its freshness and great smoothness, probably due to the vintage. The finish is very long with fruity notes.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

The 2016 vintage profile was regular, without any particular disease outbreak in the vineyard. The winter was characterised by a harsh climate with lots of rainfall, with regular budding in the second half of April. The mild temperatures favoured the development of the leaf surface with flowering in the first week of June. The hot, sunny summer days and the low rainfall at the end of July caused water stress veraison, that was overcome thanks to the rains of late August and early September.

In the glass, the wine shows a ruby colour with garnet flashes, theolfactory profile is characterised by violet aromas, joined with cherry in spirit and blueberry jam, followed by nuances of delicate spices and hints of tobacco and licorice on the finish. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and balanced, with a fresh and savory aspect, with good progression and with finishes of licorice tones on the aftertaste.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2013

The weather trend in 2013 showed high rainfall in the first halfof the year. A real winter, which recorded temperatures in Chianti below the average of the period, often close to 0°C, was followed by a spring that failed to reverse the trend, causing late flowering. A factor that led to a general delay in the following phenological stages until harvest, despite the summer heat.

The wine is of a color very similar to the previous sample tasted. On the nose, we perceive violet hints, followed by cherry and redcurrant jam, which combine well with the spicy aromas of vanilla and cloves. In the mouth, the wine has a rich taste, with a fresh-tannic profile that makes it appear younger than its 10 years old, probably due to the cool vintage. The finish is long with balsamic notes for a wine that still has a long life ahead of it.

The Chianti Classico Riserva reveals the strong marker of a terroir wisely managed according to the organic farming principles, an approach that, as we have seen, also affects the winery and all production activities. Each sample tasted pushesd to have another sip due to its pleasantness, making the wine suitable for elaborate dishes based on red meat such as a fillet with mushrooms. A wonderful experience that does not take away the curiosity about how old vintages samples react over time.

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Red Wine

Wine Lover, Sommelier AIS and Marketing Expert

Previously, the wine was white or red for me, sometimes it was the middle ground, sometimes it had bubbles, or it was sweet. Then I started this journey in the knowledge of wine, with its many expressions, types, and the countless territories perfect for growing vines.
I met some wonderful people, with whom it is always possible to be amazed and often excited, while tasting a glass of wine.

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