Badia a Coltibuono is an organic estate winery in the northern part of Gaiole-in-Chianti, a commune in the southern part of the Chianti Classico DOCG region of Tuscany, Italy. The name Badia a Coltibuono means ‘Abbey of the good harvest’. The Abbey itself is 10 miles (16km) distant and surrounded by woodland. It dates from the 11th-century and its monks may have been the original producers of what is now called Chianti (Classico). The abbey’s vineyards today are on lower lying land to the south in Monti-in-Chianti, a locality (‘frazione’) in Gaiole, midway between the Abbey and the city of Siena. Wines made here include Chianti Classico DOCG and Vin Santo del del Chianti Classico DOC.
Contact: Dr Roberto Stucchi (speaks English).
History: Badia a Coltibuono has Etruscan origins. In 1051 the monks of the Vallombrosan Order, a Tuscan reform of the Benedictines, founded the Abbey and also began planting the first vineyards in the Upper Chianti area. Over the centuries they extended their vast land holdings to include many thousands of acres and developed a flourishing wine production and commerce (inventing tenant farming; using terraces; and establishing a number of monasteries in the area, of which this was one of the richest). In 1810, when Tuscany was under Napoleonic rule, the monks were forced to leave Coltibuono and the monastery was secularized. Napoleon’s aide de compte put it up for sale but at too high a price, so there were no buyers. A lottery was held in 1819 (a copy of the manifest is in the tasting room) which was won by Baron Poniatowski whose frivolous Italian wife squandered his patrimony. Coltibuono was put back up for sale in 1846, when it was bought by Guido Giuntini, a Florentine banker and great grandfather of Piero Stucchi-Prinetti, the present owner. [The Giuntini brothers had decided to go into agriculture and bought three Tuscan estates: Selvapiana in the Chianti Rufina DOCG, Badia a Coltibuono and Fattoria La Parrina in the La Parrina DOC on the Tuscan coast].
Under the guidance of Piero Stucchi Prinetti, the estate grew and built a solid reputation in Italy and abroad through the high quality of its products. Nowadays, his son Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, the oenologist of Coltibuono, manages the Abbey along with his sister Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti who is responsible for Marketing and Sales (and also a former President of the Consorzio del Marchio Storico Chianti Classico), while their brother Paolo Stucchi Prinetti, manages the restaurant. Another brother is Guido, who I met and who does the house/hospitality, the school, bed and breakfast, visits and tastings and is married to an Englishwoman (his assistant is called Kelda Jones).
The estate: The estate covers around 800 hectares, much of it forested (see under forests and olives, below). The vines are close to or around the medieval village of Monti in Chianti in the south of Castelnuovo Berardenga. This area is said to be quite warm. Clay in the south, and limestone in the north, with only a bit of sand.
Vineyards: 2010 73ha of vines. | 2017 63ha of vines, mostly replanted with their own Sangioveto clones (experiments for the Chianti 2000 project). 250-320 metres; south-south-west. Clay limestone. 10-55 years old. Guyot, 5,500-6,600 vines/ha. | 2018 63 hectares (157 acres) of vines.
Organic certification: 2001 From 2001 vineyards in Monti called Argenina and Montebelo went organic. | 2003 First vintage with full organic certification (AIAB). | 2005 Certified by ICEA. | 2018 Still certified organic.
Organic practices: 2018 The estate was following Swiss importer Delinat’s guidelines on copper-based sprays, which stipulates a maximum of 2.5kg of copper per hectare per year. In 2018 Badia a Coltibuono farmed 10 hectares of estate vines without copper, substituting this with plant-based sprays based on seaweed, and propolis. Cover crops included broad beans, clover, oats, and alfalfa. Compost was also being used.
Winery: New winery in Monti-in-Chianti, near where the vineyards are, 10 miles (16km) from the abbey (‘badia’).
Sella del Boccone: Chardonnay.
IGT Toscana Bianco, Trappoline: 2004 60% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc. Negociant wine. Short skin contact. Skins out when ferm starts. Steel only. 6m on lees. Full MLF. Bottled 2-3 weeks ago. Light and tropical when tasted at the estate in early 2005.
Chianti Classico DOCG, Badia a Coltibuono: 2002 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo. Aged in Slavonian and French oak botti. A bit weedy when tried in Siena in Dec 2004 (can’t remember where…). Soft and chewy when tasted at the estate in early 2005. | 2003 Organic for the first time. | 2006 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo. | 2016 Delicate Sangiovese fruit (Anteprima 2018).
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Badia a Coltibuono: 1970 Riserva Browny tawny colour, nice dog shit nose, aged in chestnut, earthy but get marked acid as there were white grapes in the blend, when tasted at the estate in early 2005. | 2000 Riserva 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo. Same grapes as the normal Chianti Classico but from older vines. Food-friendly, want well-balanced acidity, some say austere and old-fashioned. | 2001 Riserva Organic in conversion. | 2011 Riserva Left more leaves than usual on the vines to slow ripening and extend hang time. | 2013 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 3% Ciliegiolo, 2% Colorino. 30,000 bottles produced. | 2014 No Riserva wines made in 2014. | 2015 Riserva 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 3% Ciliegiolo, 2% Colorino. 40,000 bottles produced.
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Cultus Boni: Cultus Boni is the motto of the monks. The wine is designed to be modern in style, barrel aged 100%. | 2013 80% Sangiovese, 5% Ciliegiolo, 5% Colorino, 10% other grapes. 13,000 bottles produced. | 2015 80% Sangiovese, 5% Ciliegiolo, 5% Colorino, 10% other grapes. 14,000 bottles produced.
Toscana Rosso IGT, Cancelli Rosso: 2003 70% Sangiovese, 30% Syrah. Made to be cheap and £5-6 in the UK in 2005. Soft, slight cheese, modern style fruit, soft and round at the estate in early 2005.
IGT Toscana Rosso, Montebello: 2013 11% each Mammolo, Ciliegiolo & Pugnitello, 67% other grapes. 3,500 bottles produced. | 2015 67% other grapes, 33% Ciliegiolo, Mammolo, and Pugnitello combined.
IGT Toscana Rosso, Sangioveto:The top wine. 100% Sangiovese, from oldest vines in best year, barrique only. | 2000 Vina da Tavola di Toscana Rosso Light and crisp when tasted at the estate in early 2005.
Vin Santo del del Chianti Classico DOC: 1998 Bottled. | 2004 16.5%. | 2009 50% Malvasia Bianca Lunga Toscana, 50% Trebbiano Toscano. 9,000 bottles produced. | 2010 50% each Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca Lunga Toscana. | 2011 50% each Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca Lunga Toscana.
Other activities: 20 hectares of olive trees (2018). 600 hectares of forest (2018).
Cooking school: This was created by Lorenza de’Medici who also wrote several books on gastronomy.
Winery: Badia a Coltibuono, Loc. Monti-in-Chianti | I-53013 Gaiole in Chianti (SI = Siena), Italy | Tel+39 0577 746110 | www.coltibuono.com
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p.37.