Fattoria del Colle is a winery and tourism complex in the commune of Trequanda in the Orcia DOC region of Tuscany. Donatella Cinelli Colombini inherited the estate in 1998 via her grandfather’s side of the family. Donatella also owns (since 1998, via her mother’s side of the family) the Casato Prime Donne estate some 30km to the west in nearby Montalcino. In fact, land ownership records show that Donatella’s ancestors built Fattoria del Colle in 1592 but lost the estate during the religious wars (due to some family members being Protestants). In 1919, the estate returned to the family thanks to Donatella’s great-grandfather, a member of the Socini family (the vendor was Conte Spanocchi). Red wines are made under the Chianti Superiore DOCG and Orcia Rosso DOC and there is also a Vinsanto del Chianti DOC.
Owner: Donatella Cinelli Colombini. As well as producing wine, Donatella created the Movimento Turismo del Vino (Wine Tourism Movement).
Family history: One of the wines made here, Leone Rosso (see below) or ‘red lion’ derives from the rampant lion, whose image is engraved at the entrances at Fattoria del Colle, on the ceilings, and on the majolica blazons. The lion symbolizes the long history of this place. It is the emblem of the Socini, or Soccini, family, Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s ancestors who built Fattoria del Colle in 1592. The Socini was a Sienese family of jurists and thinkers, that were rich and prestigious until, Lelio (1525-1562) and Fausto (1539-1604) Socino became important characters in the Protestant reform and most of all very much opponents of the dogma of trinity. Still today their names are written in every book on philosophy, but by the church they were considered heretics and so they were forced to escape abroad and brought their family to ruin. In 1919 Donatella’s great-grandfather Livio Socini bought Fattoria del Colle back, quite by chance. Donatella got the estate from her father Fausto Cinelli in 1998 and has dedicated to the Socini family a wine she produces there called “Leone Rosso” DOC Orcia.
Terroir: The terroir here is described as being at 400 metres, on land originating from the early Quaternary period. Sandy clay here, whereas at Casato Prime Donne there is more clay. Altitude of around 400 metres. Drainage is easier here than at Casato, the terroir is more homogeneous. A dry, but cool site.
Vineyard: 2018 17ha. The main grapes are Sangiovese, Foglia Tonda, Merlot, Canaiolo, Sagrantino (the last grape to ripen, clones from Caprai in the Montefalco region in Umbria, top-grafted onto existing vines), and Traminer, plus some recently planted Sanforte and Ciliegiolo. The Foglia Tonda, which was grafted on to existing Müller-Thürgau vines, ripens only slightly later here than Sangiovese. Merlot in the Poggione plot is on sandy clay. Merlot in another plot called La Pieve comprises 2ha, is west-facing, and is on poorer sandy clay and give slightly homogeneous wines.
Viticulture: Vine density of 5,000 vines per hectare. 100% Spurred cordon. Cuttings from the oldest vines (1940s) are used as propagation material for new plantings. The rootstock chosen by Donatella when replanting vines here was 420A. Seaweed is added to vineyard spays (on the advice of their agronomist, Dr Folco Giovanni Bencini). In 2018 I was told Claude Bourguignon was going to analyse the soil so that at replanting a more accurate match could be made between grape variety (and specific clones thereof) and soil type, and the way of replanting would change to reduce soil compaction at planting.
Yields: 2018 Aiming for 50-60 quintals per hectare.
Organic certification: 2013 Organic practices were adopted. | 2014 Another years of organics.| 2015 Began official conversion to certified organic farming. | 2018 First vintage with certified organic status.
Winemaking, winery: Grapes are hand picked and arrive at the winery within 60 minutes of picking. The destemmer (used for red grapes) is overhead. This makes it easier to eliminate dried or unhealthy grapes. There is a double sorting procedure, first when the grapes have arrived and once again after they have been destemmed. Then they go into the stainless steel vats for fermentation using the estate’s own ‘Tusco’ yeast (selected at Casato Prime Donne from the Ardita plot), and used here since 2007. After racking, MLF occurs in vat too. Then the wines age 18-20 months in oak vats (20hl botti). The oak regime is for each lot is only decided once the initial blends have been made after MLF. The barrel ageing area is located underneath the villa. The most ancient part of the cellar was first excavated almost one thousand years ago, and is now where a collection of library vintages of the estate’s wines are stored. Valerie Lavigne consults.
Vintages: 2015 Very mild and wet winter, followed by a wet spring which affected flowering, reducing the number of clusters. Precocious vine growth. This stopped in July with very hot weather, with veraison beginning around 25th July, and lasting 2 weeks. August brought changeable weather. Clear September skies with big day-night temperature differences. Good weather during harvest. | 2016 Mild and rainy winter. Rainy start to the season, the rainiest since 1919. This produced early bud burst and shoot growth (15 days ahead) and the rain also adversely affected flowering, producing fewer and smaller than usual clusters. Summer (eg. August) produced some very hot days as well as storms, with hail a risk. Veraison occurred, however, at the usual time. There was no need for crop thinning. Ripening then proceeded regularly and slowly, with cool nights in September. Analytical and phenolic ripeness in sync. Picking ran from 15th Sept to 5th October. | 2018 A wet year.
2018 In this wet year, it was decided to make some sparkling wine from Sangiovese.
Rosa di Tetto: 2018 IGT Toscana Rosato. 13% alc. 2,500 bottles (probably a bled style). Savoury and well-weighted (April 2020).
Chianti Superiore DOCG: See here for more on this DOCG.
Orcia Rosso DOC, Leone Rosso: See the family history above for why this wine is called ‘red lion’. | 2015 A very good vintage here, despite floods in nearby Buonconvento, and hail in Torrita di Siena. | 2016 60% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot. 13.5% alcohol. Fermented in stainless steel for 10-13 days and left on skins for a similar time. Aged 6 months in oak barrels. 24,000 bottles.
Toscana Rosso, Il Drago e Le 8 Colonbe: A SuperTuscan. The 8 refers to the 8 women who work at the estate (a ‘colomba’ is Italian for a dove). From 60% Sangiovese, 20% Sagrantino (see above), 20% Merlot (from both the Poggione and La Pieve plots). The Merlot is picked first, followed by the Sangiovese and finally the Sagrantino. Each variety has its own oak-ageing regime (French oak from 5 different coopers). | 2015 Fermented in stainless steel. Aged 18 months in Slavonian oak vats (20hl) and in 500- and 700-litre French tonneaux. 14.5% alcohol. 8,000 bottles. | 2018 In 2018 I was told this wine now gets only 10% new oak.
Orcia Rosso DOC, Cenerentola: This is the top wine. The name means Cinderella. This refers to the two ‘stepsisters’ that the Orcia DOC region has, lying as it does between two more famous red wine ‘sisters’, namely Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG from around the town of Montepulciano to the east, and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG from around the town of Montalcino to the west. I was told in 2018 this used to be based on grapes from a 4ha plot of Sangiovese called Poggione, on sandy-clay-loam at 400 metres (40-50 quintals per hectare), planted in 1996-1997. Now it comes from a plot called Cancello Nero (‘Black Gate’) planted 2011 where the Sangiovese clones are from loose-bunched clones (VCR 30 and VCR 5) and on 420A rootstock. The decision on whether or not to include the press wine is taken in November after harvest when both fractions, P1 and P2 are tasted. The wine ages in mainly older oak, with just 10% new, and (from 2015) in concrete eggs. | 2004 65% Sangiovese, 35% Foglia Tonda. Closed with Korked, a synthetic material with an inner channel allowing micro-oxygenation. | 2016 14.5% alcohol. 65% Sangiovese, 35% Foglia Tonda. Both varieties are fermented apart, in stainless steel for 15-25 days. They are aged apart, too for 12 months in French oak tonneaux and in small barrels. They are blended just before bottling. 13,000 bottles. The bottle I tried was 14.5% alc (L5218) and contained a solid red, tasted over three days, showing it needs 5-8 years more for its bright fruit to open fully above some well constructed supporting tannins.
Vinsanto del Chianti DOC, Donatella Cinelli Colombini: 2002 Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia del Chianti.
Other crops: Cereals, white truffles, olive groves.
Tourism: The estate is an ancient village, transformed to accommodate tourists. There is a villa,18 apartments and rooms (100 beds), 3 parks with swimming pools, a restaurant (‘osteria’) serving local dishes, spa and cooking school plus a farmhouse. Also a sixteenth century church.
Fattoria del Colle
Loc. Colle, I-53020 Trequanda (SI = Siena), Italy
Tel+39 0577 662108 | www.cinellicolombini.it
GPS 43° 10′ 52” N / 11° 39′ 17” E
Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Brunello to Zibibbo—The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy (2nd edition, London, 2003), p.122-3.