On our first trip to Italy, after time in Milan and Piedmont, we drove to Panzano in Chianti to the Villa Le Barone. In a word, it was exquisite. So beautiful that we begged to extend our stay and they obliged.
From there we set out on day trips to visit wineries. High on our list was Badia a Coltibuono, which looked just like itself from the label, a sprawling ancient stone compound with a crown-like tower. “Back then, wine tourism was difficult. It’s so easy today,” Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti told me during her most recent visit to New York. The Stucchi family has owned Badia a Coltibuono since 1846 and wine has been made there since “the abbey of good harvest” was founded in 1051 by the creator of an order of monks. Badia a Coltibuono was also the first place we tasted green, unctuous, olive oil from a tank, after lunch in its restaurant.
The wines John and I tasted during that visit reinforced our love of Chianti Classico, the wines from the most famous region of Chianti, many of which sport the black rooster seal on their bottles’ necks. They were ruby red with notes of cinnamon, dark chocolate and cherries. Spiked with lively acidity, they also had Bordeaux-like structure. The grape at their core is Sangiovese, sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter,” the god of lightening.
Emanuela first poured her 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva, which had ripe, tight fruit befitting the extra time it had in the barrel, being a riserva. Next was the rich, spicy Cultus Boni, which bears the winery’s original name, the abbey of “good culture.” Since 2000, the winery’s grapes have been organically grown. Last was the 2004 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Occhio Pernice, a dessert wine that tasted of dried raisins, apricots and almonds, a total delight.
It’s wonderful that wine has the ability to conjure such yummy memories.
Badia a Coltibuono produces quality wines from vintage to vintage. Below are several selections of their wines.