A Mother/Daughter Wine Duo in Montalcino

Their all-female staffed Italian winery now exports to 39 countries

By Sandra Crittenden
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In 1592, Donatella Cinelli Colombini's ancestors began building Fattoria del Colle in Tequanda while also cultivating their nearby property at Casato in Montalcino, Italy. Religious disputes would lead to the family losing all of their property for 300 years before Fattoria del Colle was returned to Donatella’s great-grandfather, Giovanni Colombini, in 1919. He would later be one of the founders of the wine Consorzio del Brunello. 

 Donatella Cinelli Colombini was born in Siena in Tuscany in 1953 and would first immerse herself in wine tourism before rebuilding the two family estates which she has directed since 1998. She focused on maintaining healthy vineyards and saving ancient Sienese rootstock along the way. 

 Colombini started the process of moving the vineyards towards organic in 2014 and that labor of love was fully achieved in 2018 when the vineyards received their organic certification. 

 Her family has a tradition of passing the estates from mother to daughter, and for the past three generations, this has been the case. Donatella will give Casato to her daughter Violante who is already the head of marketing. Violante is currently traveling in the U.S. and other wine markets to enhance awareness of the family brand. 

 In Montalcino, the Casato Prime Donne cultivates 42 acres of vineyard land. Within the winery, all the winemakers are female, an unusual work situation for Italy. 

 Donatella needed an oenologist when she started running the estate and purposely sought out female workers to disprove the centuries-old prejudice about women’s inability to produce fine wine. This became the “Prime Donne” project. 

 Her all-female-staffed winery proved to be a success; the wines are exported to 39 countries and always receive high scores from the critics. 

 The other estate, Fattoria del Colle, is in the Chianti and Orcia Doc regions. It sits in a 16th-century village surrounded by another 42 acres of vineyards with white truffles, woods, fields of grains, over 14 acres of olive trees, and thermal pools. 

 While all the wines produced under her name are known for their elegance and purity, it is her Brunellos that have captivated the wine world. 

 Brunello di Montalcino wines are always 100% Sangiovese sourced from hillsides. The alcohol by volume must be a minimum of 12.5%. The wines are required to age for a total of four years and must include two years in oak barrels and at least four months in the bottle before being released for sale. 

 The Riserva Brunello wines must age for a minimum of five years, including a minimum of two years in oak and six months in the bottle.

Violante was recently in the area to conduct a masterclass for wine professionals and to offer tastes of recent vintages. Violante and her mother share the belief that “the less you touch it, the better it will be.” 

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Wines to Seek
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) 2018 is sourced from two small vineyards surrounding a stone building dating back to the 16th century and built by Donatella Cinelli Colombini's ancestors. 

 This Brunello spends two years in oak barrels and tonneau, a large oak barrel that can hold 900 liters. Full and rich with spices and red fruit, this wine is intense and well-balanced, with a velvety texture. 

 Brunello di Montalcino Progetto Prime Donne DOCG 2017 is a single vineyard wine with two and one-half years in oak barrels. Also full-bodied and intense with red berries, plum, and tobacco notes with a silky feel and a persistent finish.

 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2016 is the top of the line. Riservas are produced with the best grapes and undergo longer aging, typically lasting for decades in the bottle. 

 This wine spends three and one-half years in oak barrels. Full-bodied, powerful, and intense with jammy red fruit aromas and flavors and a spicy black pepper note in the lengthy finish. 

 Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2022 is considered to be the baby brother to Brunello wines. They are also 100% Sangiovese. 

 Violante stated: “You don’t need an occasion to drink this wine.” She considers this an anytime wine and she particularly enjoys it in the summer with spicy tomato and seafood recipes. 

 This wine spends less time in oak barrels and is released much sooner than the Brunello wines. Violante describes this as “harmonious and reasonably tannic” which means less tannic than the big brother Brunellos but still features the same spicy red fruit profile. 

 All of the wines are sourced from the family’s vineyards. They do not buy grapes from other growers, ensuring that the characteristic elegance and purity of taste remain consistent in each bottle produced. Any of these bottles would be an ideal way for wine-loving mothers and daughters to celebrate Mother’s Day together.