Cerbaiona is an estate in Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy. Its main wines are Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The estate is located on the north-eastern shoulder of the Montalcino zone (just east-north-east of the town itself), near Giulio Salvioni’s La Cerbaiola and the La Serena estate, where the land starts descending towards Torrenieri and the Asso river valley from around 400 metres (1,312 feet) above sea level. There are views to Pienza and to Monte Amiata to the south. The Cerbaiona name refers to a manor house (or villa) dating from the 1600s. It has a small private chapel and a classic Italian renaissance garden supported by a high embankment.
Owner: In the fall of 2015, Diego Molinari, age 84, sold Cerbaiona to a group of investors led by Gary Rieschel, an American wine collector, and Matthew Fioretti, the estate’s new manager who runs all aspects of Cerbaiona. Maurizio Bovini, with his decades of experience in vineyard and cellar management, joined Cerbaiona in April 2016.
Background: In 1977 Burgundy fan Diego Molinari, who is originally from Rome, and his wife Nora [Tadros] Molinari bought this estate (from the Guerrini family) after he retired in as a pilot flying to North America for Alitalia. When Molinari and his wife Nora bought the house it was being lived in by a peasant. Diego Molinari hired neighbouring growers to replant and expand the vineyard using, it seems cuttings, from Biondi Santi.
Terroir: Cerbaiona occupies a small east-facing hillside at around 350 metres. Soils comprise galestro (limestone shale), according the new owners.
Vineyards: Cerbaiona planted three main blocks planted in 1978, 1986 and 2000 with less than 3,600 plants per hectare. Steady replanting at higher vine densities with site specific clones selected from Guillaume nursery. Paolo de Marchi was involved. In 2017, an additional hectare and a half of Sangiovese was planted on the steepest part of the estate, directly below the villa of Cerbaiona–perhaps the most magnificent spot on this cru, but long planted to olives as a more expedient, lower labour use for this steep slope. A neighbouring vineyard is owned by Salvioni-La Cerbaiola.
Organic certification: At the end of 2015, the new owners converted Cerbaiona to organic farming.
Winemaking: Small lots are fermented separately by vineyard blocks or even specific rows. Selection tables and a paddle de-stemmer are used to ensure selection of the best berries. They are transferred without crushing into open top wood tanks. These vary in size: 15hl, 25hl, and 30hl. Fermentation occurs naturally with indigenous yeasts. For the first week of fermentation, to avoid over extraction and ensure more elegant wines, pump-overs are limited to an absolute minimum. The caps are punched down manually. Press wine is kept separate from free run and the new wines undergo malolactic in the same, upright wooden tanks used for fermentation. The wines are then left on the fine lees, occasionally stirred, until spring. The wines are then transferred to Slavonian oak casks like the fermentation tanks, hand crafted by master coopers Klaus and Jacob Pauscha. These range in size from 10hl, 17hl and 20hl. Minimal racking is used during the 30 months in cask.
Wine production: Cerbaiona produces 10,000–15,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG annually. Depending on the vintage, 3,000 – 5,000 bottles of Rosso di Montalcino DOC are also produced. To ensure quality and selection, sometimes small lots of Sangiovese IGT are also bottled.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Cerbaiona: 1981 The debut vintage. | 2009 Intense black fruit, rich currants, dry end, bretty (tasted blind at Col d’Orcia 14 June 2014. | 2010 Antonio Galloni gave the 2010 a 100 points score.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Cerbaiona: Never made under Molinari due the then small scale of the estate.