Col d’Orcia is an organic winery in Sant Angelo Scalo in the south west of the Montalcino region of Tuscany, Italy. It is the biggest organic wine producer and second largest producer overall of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG after the nearby Castello Banfi. Col d’Orcia also makes Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Chianti DOCG red wine, a Moscadello di Montalcino DOC sweet white made from Moscato Bianco (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat de Frontignan) and a white Sant’Antimo DOC.

Owner: Count Francesco Marone Cinzano (Francesco dei conti Marone Cinzano) was born in 1959. He is the son of Alberto Paolo Rodolfo Marone-Cinzano, Conte Marone Cinzano and Cristina dei Conti Camerana. He married Marcella Pitaluga. Their children are Alberto dei Conti Marone Cinzano, Santiago dei Conti Marone Cinzano, and Nicoletta dei Conti Marone Cinzano. Francesco took over Col d’Orcia in 1991 after his father Alberto was killed in a car crash. The Cinzano family is originally from Torino in Northern Italy. It has produced wines from father to son since the 16th Century. Before joining the wine business Francesco Marone Cinzano worked in the art world at the auction house Christie’a. He also owns the Caliboro winery in Chile. Francesco’s sister Noemi Marone Cinzano is the former owner of the Argiano winery near Col d’Orcia in Montalcino. She also founded Bodega Noemia in Argentina.

StaffMaurizio Castelli (1988-2008). | Pablo Harri. | MD: Edoardo Virano (from 1977). | Viticulture: Giuliano Dragoni (from 1973, here since the Cinzano purchase). | Dott Gabriele Gadenz.

The name: Col d’Orcia means ‘hill overlooking the river Orcia’.

Origins: The origins of estate dates to 1650, when the family of the cavaliers Della Ciaia established a vast estate near to Sant’Angelo. In 1973 Count Alberto Marone Cinzano acquired the company from the Franceschi family of Il Poggione. At this time Montalcino was relatively unknown but its renown was growing. From 1992 the estate passed to Francesco Marone Cinzano.

The estate: 538 hectares of land. 300 metres (feet); 2,700-4,400 vines per ha. Double cordon. Soil pH 7.2 – 8.0.

Vineyards: 2020 500ha of land of which 150ha of vin3s, 30ha of olives. | 2015 Around 143 hectares (353 acres) of vines. Third largest Montalcino estate after Castello Banfi and Castelgiocondo. 80% single cordon; and in some double cordon; lyre trials but these seem to ripen much later than control trials next door. | 2013 142ha of which 101ha of Brunello & Rosso (making Col d’Orcia the third biggest producer of estate-grown Brunello (a bottler called I think Piccini is bigger but has no vines); and 41ha of other vines for Moscadello, Pinot Gris, Cabernet. | 2005 147ha of vines.

Single vineyards: Banditella Vecchia: 2.35ha. 420A rootstock. | Banditella Nuova: 420A and 4.8 hectares. | Canneto (near reeds, hence the name). 230 metres. 3.5 hectares. 420A on the high part and 3309C on the low part as more humid here. | Bozzolino: Near Canneto. 1.33 hectares of Pinot Grigio on 1103P. High cordons (hard to spray). | Nastagio Carrata: 4 hectares. Scheletro. | Nastagio Olivone 3.3 hectares. | Pascena 2009: 1.5 hectares. | Pascena Tre Campi: 4 hectares. | Pian di Vitigno Pinot Gris: 2,08 hectares on 1103 at 2,7m x 90cm. Grey clay. | Pian di Vitigno Sotto Strada: 2.9 hectares. Sangiovese 1109P. Greyish clay, compacts. | Pian di Vitigno Vecchio 5 hectares of Sangiovese. Planted 1998. 2 hectares of Merlot (3 clones; 420A). | Pianura Chardonnay: 1.5 hectares. 3309C. | Pianura Pinot Grigio: 3.7 hectares. Near the Orcia river. | Poggio al Vento 1.8 hectares on 420A. Poggio al Vento Sottomuro 2.2 hectares. 110R and 420A.

Organic certification2013 Full organic certification for the first time. | 2020 Still certified organic.

Viticulture: Dry farmed. Working with Biodynamic consultant Adriano Zago in 2018 (still the case in 2020).

Polyculture, Biodiversity2015 30 hectares (74 acres) of olives, and 200 hectares (494 acres) of land for sowable crops (‘seminativo‘). 2018 Col d’Orcia made an agreement in 2018 with a honey producer in the Siena area who will be installing more than 200 bee hives at Col d’Orcia in March. For this same project Col d’Orcia sowed more than 60 hectares (148 acres) with different flowers.

Vineyard cover crops: Before replanting new vineyards the land is sown with mustard (Brassica or crucifer family) as a disinfectant. Legumes are sown for nitrogen. These include Egyptian (Trifolium alexandrinum) and other clovers, broad beans (Vicia faba) and Tansy phacelia (see also Phacelia). For organic matter grasses such as Einkorn (Faro monococco), oats (Avena sativa), barley (Hordeum vulgare) or ‘orzo’ and wheat (‘grano’) are sown. One aim is to sow plants with different root depths to open the sub-soil. Valerio Cechi told me (visit 15 July 2020) that all seeds sown as vineyard cover crops are grown at Col d’Orcia.

Sangiovese biotypes: Two of Col d’Orcia’s Sangiovese biotypes have been patented for possible sale as commercial clones. The two are CD04 and CD07. One has been registered and the other one not but this is the one they use (we are in Italy….). One has an elongated bunch and the other has a round bunch of medium size, loose not compact. Others have not been registered because they are virused.

Winery: Mainly squat stainless steel tanks; used to favour botti rather than barriques for the Brunello. Large oval wooden vats laid horizontally on stone supports.

White wines

Chardonnay, Ghiaie Bianco2011 Sant’Antimo DOC. 2,500 bottles. Barrel fermented. | 2013 Certified organic. 3,000 bottles.

Pinot Grigio: 2012 100% Pinot Grigio. 25,000 bottles. Points. Bronze at DWWA 2013. | 2013 Sant’Antimo DOC. Certified organic. 30,000 bottles. Simple estery fruit (Anteprima 2014).

Red wine blends

Rosso Toscana, Rosso Degli Spezieri: In Renaissance Florence, Spezieri where the blenders of spices, and this wine is a blend of mainly Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo as well as small amounts of most of the other grape varieties grown on the Col d’Orcia estate. Spezieri is a young, fruity easy to drink wine.

Chianti DOCG, Gineprone2009 Sangiovese (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).

San Leopoldo

Nearco2006 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah. 18m in Allier and Tronçais barrels. | 2009Labelled as Nearco Cabernet, Sant’Antimo Rosso. 25,000 bottles. | 2010 Sant’Antimo DOC. 25,000 bottles. Thickish primary berries with oak (Anteprima 2014). | 2011 25,000 bottles.

OlmaiaThe first pure Cabernet Sauvignon from Montalcino. Vines planted in 1984 by Count Alberto Marone Cinzano. Bordeaux clones. 1989 Debut. | 2001 Tre Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso. | 2009 10,000 bottles. | 2010 Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC. Roughly 6,500-8,000 bottles. Oaky nose, smooth, sweet savoury then firm tannins, shortish end at a wine dinner at Col d’Orcia on Thursday 19th February 2015.

Rosso di Montalcino DOCCol d’Orcia claims to have been instrumental in creating the category of Rosso di Montalcino. In the early 1970’s Count Alberto Marone Cinzano began bottling a young Sangiovese wine for everyday drinking. In 1983 Rosso di Montalcino became a DOC.

Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Col d’Orcia2010 First bottle tasted green, the second bottle was tight, boiled sweets, question-mark over its ripeness and elegance (Bronze, Decanter World Wine Awards 2013. | 2010 Nice texture but slightly blurred fruit at a wine dinner at Col d’Orcia on Thursday 19th February 2015. | 2011 200,000 bottles. | 2012 200,000 bottles. Bright red fruit, nice weight (Anteprima 2014). | 2013 200,000 bottles. | 2014 Certified organic. Clear red fruit, good (Anteprima 2016).

Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Banditella: A rare example of a Rosso di Montalcino made from a single vineyard, in this case comprising 7 hectares (17.3 acres) 100% of Sangiovese. Mostly 5,000 vines per hectare (2,024 vines per acre). Rootstock is 420A. Not all of the grapes from the Banditella vineyard go into the wine of that name, which is drawn only from clonally selected, higher density vineyards.

2002 Aged two years in barrique and released after 30 months. 25,000 bottles (one tenth of the production of their regular Rosso di Montalcino). Smoky nose, palate a mix of sawdusty oak over well-weighted fruit tasted at Argiano in 2005. | 2010 25,000 bottles. Youthful oaky bright (Anteprima 2014).

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG wines

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Col d’Orcia2000 A bit light, elegant in its way, some green and also fairly representative at Benvenuto Brunello 19 Feb 2005 | 2004Bit baked on nose but still fine textured at a wine dinner at Col d’Orcia on Thursday 19th February 2015. | 2008180,000 bottles. Hit by hail it seems. Bit of fizz, plus dry chocolate, baked commercial style at Benvenuto Brunello 24 Feb 2013. | 2009 200,000 bottles. Savoury (Anteprima 2014. Mix of ripe cherry fruit and metallic notes tasted blind at Col d’Orcia 14 June 2014. | 2010 250,000 bottles produced. | 2011 Fluid, slight baked note (Anteprima 2016. | 2012 Crisp, creamy nose, pale colour, well knit, bit of green too, but fluid and simple red fruit (Anteprima 2017).

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, NastaggioNastaggio is a single vineyard with its own historic place-name or ‘toponimo’ (or lieu-dit in French) and is now officially marked on the land registry. This means it can have its own signpost – white letters on a brown background. | 2009 Bit simple, fluffy, sweet and sour tannins tasted blind at Col d’Orcia 14 June 2014.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Poggio al VentoPoggio al Vento (‘windy hill’) is a 7 hectare (17.3 acres) vineyard located at 1,150 ft (350 metres) on the outskirts of Sant’Angelo in Colle. It faces south-west, and therefore gets the full sun from late morning to sunset. This site is not a toponimo, meaning the name does not appear on old maps, or on the Italian land registry. Poggio al Vento is simply the name that the Col d’Orcia winery has given to this, their vineyard. The site contains an old oak tree which may be up to 400 years old. It is 24.4 metres (80 feet) in diameter. 

Poggio al Vento’s vineyards consist of seven blocks which Col d’Orcia internally numbers from P1 to P7. The wine is a selection of these P vineyards. Average production is around 20,000 bottles. In 1977 the bulk of the Poggio al Vento wine still came from 1974 plantings which may have contained Colorino, Tinto di Spagna (Carignan) and possibly Ciliegiolo. In 2018 the bulk of production was coming from the area planted in 1990. In early May 2018 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) of Poggio al Vento was replanted in an area Col d’Orcia called Sottomuro Vecchio or ‘old lower wall’. 

The entire Poggio al Vento vineyard was on the same calcareous-rich clay soil called alberese [a marl whose limestone is from fossilised diatoms and rich in minerals] meaning the calcium carbonate component is high. This raises the soil pH to over 7, the calcium carbonate blocking the Potassium (K), rendering the potassium less soluble in the soils, especially in calcareous clay such as Poggio al Vento. The effect of the low (available) Potassium (K) is two-fold. First, it allows slow fruit maturation which helps preserve the aromatic precursors in the grapes (and later wine). Second, it leaves the wine with a high level of acidity because the potassium (K) is blocked from forming complex salts or crystals with the Calcium carbonate. The wine’s total acidity remains high because the de-acidifying K has been blocked in the soil. Soils with similar calcium carbonate levels induce the same effect eg. in Piedmont, in Burgundy with Pinot Noir and in areas of Chianti Classico eg in Barberino Val d’Elsa, and in lower parts of Radda and Gaiole. From the bottom of the valley at 100 metres (328 feet) above sea level to 250 metres (820 feet), the soil is generally young with a predominance of clay, but still retaining some skeletal structure with stones and pebbles. 

The site could potentially produce 30,000 litres but only 20,000 bottles of Poggio al Vento were made usually. 

1985 14% alcohol. 6.2g|l total acidity. 5 years in Slavonian and french oak. | 1988 14% alcohol. 5.5g|l total acidity. | 1990 14% alcohol. 5.8g|l total acidity. From magnum: ripe, sweet red berries at a wine dinner at Col d’Orcia on Thursday 19th February 2015. | 1995 14.3% alcohol. 5.8g|l total acidity. | 1997 From mainly 1974 plantings (see above). Poggio al Vento was picked in two phases ten days apart. The first picking was used for the Brunello di Montalcino normale. Those grape bunches which had been left unpicked were harvested 10 or so days later for Poggio al Vento. 14.1% alcohol. 6g|l total acidity. Late flowering. April frost (first in 15 years) hit yields, and provoked an earlier than usual harvest. Hot summer. Maurizio Castelli told me on Monday 26th March 2018 that the winemaking was soft, with no frills. Medium sized vats, not tiny or huge. Pump over morning and evening. Long time on skins, more than one month. MLF in cement. Then to wood. Aged 48 months in 6,000-litre wooden vats (botti). No barriques for this wine (barrels only for Nearco and Olmaia). | 1998 14.2 % alcohol. 6.1 g|l total acidity. | 1999 14% alcohol. 5.9g|l total acidity. | 2001 14% alcohol. 6.2g|l total acidity. | 2004 14.5% alcohol. 6.3g|l total acidity. 24,000 bottles. Decent mid-palate marred by bit of burn, dried fruit at the end with Nick Nicholas at a Wimbledon Wine Cellars event in their Imperial Wharf store, Chelsea Harbour, London on Friday evening 9th May 2014. | 2006 15% alcohol. 5.8 g|l total acidity. 18,000 bottles. Slightly stretched but still plenty of fruit (Anteprima 2014). | 2007 14.5% alcohol. 5.6g|l total acidity. 8,000 bottles. Bold colour, rubber, dry, blackcurrants tasted blind at Col d’Orcia 14 June 2014. | 2008 14.5% alcohol. 5.6g|l total acidity. Deep, concentrated, slight burnt note (Anteprima 2016). | 2010 15% alcohol. 5.9g|l total acidity.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Col d’Orcia: Made in 2000, 2002, and 2005.

Sweet white wines

Moscadello di Montalcino DOC, Pascena Vendemmia TardivaThis late-harvest white is made from 3 hectares of Moscato Bianco [Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains] grown in the Pascena vineyard. S-SW facing. The vine shoots are cut so that the grapes start to dry and concentrate whilst still on the vine, then once picked the bunches are laid out on mats in the open air. 1987 337 bottles (375cl). | 1988 3,724 bottles (375cl). | 1989 2,341 bottles (375cl). | 1990 5,987 bottles (375cl). | 1991 4,618 bottles (375cl). | 1992 5,456 bottles (375cl). | 1993 7,993 bottles (375cl). | 1994 3,621 bottles (375cl). | 1995 2,718 bottles (375cl). | 1997 2,704 bottles (375cl). | 1998 6,511 bottles (375cl). | 1999 8,299 bottles (375cl). | 2000 7,644 bottles (375cl). | 2001 8,693 bottles (375cl). | 2003 4,133 bottles (375cl). | 2006 6,666 bottles (375cl). | 2008 12.6% alcohol, 125g/l residual sugar. Fermented in 225-litre barriques and aged in barrel for 12 months. Sterile filtered. | 2009 12.6% alcohol + 136g|l residual sugar. 2,600 bottles of 37.5cl. | 2010 12% alcohol + 123g/l residual sugar. Fermented in 225-litre barriques and stainless steel. 3,000 bottles of 37.5cl. | 2011 12% + 136g/l residual sugar. 9hl/ha. 2,600 bottles of 37.5cl.

Other products: Brunello brandy. | Brunello grappa Poggio al Vento. | Moscadello di Montalcino grappa Pascena. | Cabernet grappa Olmaia. | Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Contact

Col d’Orcia

Via Giuncheti, Loc. Col d’Orcia

Fraz. Sant’Angelo in Colle, I-53024 Montalcino (SI = Siena), Italy

Tel+39 0577.80891 | www.coldorcia.it