Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wining and Dining at Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany with Wine Makers and Owners Roberto and Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti, Italy

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Owner Emanuela and Owner/Wine Maker Roberto Stucchi Prinetti at Badia a Coltibuono

Following the 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia, I spent three days in a beautiful and exciting location – in the Chianti Classico zone in Tuscany, at the invitation of the Chianti Classico Consortium. We visited several wineries and tasted perhaps as many as 70 different wines from Chianti Classico producers, both big and small.

While in Tuscany, I dined and wined (1) with the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium at the Santa Maria Al Prato Convent in Radda in Chianti, at (2) Badia a Coltibuono, at (3) Castello di Brolio, where Bettino Ricasoli came up with the original Chianti Classico blend, at (4) Castello di Ama, where we saw an amazing Contemporary Art Collection, at (5) Vignemaggio, where Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was borne, at (6) Dario Cecchini’s Solo Cicca Restaurant in Panzano and (7) at Caparasa, with Chianti Classico niche wine producer Paolo Cianferoni.

This posting covers our evening with owner Emanuela and owner/wine maker Roberto Stucchi Prinetti at Badia al Coltibuono; it is the fifth in a series of postings. I have already posted:

Blogging, Wining and Dining at the European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) October 2011 in Brescia, Italy – A Tour D’ Horizont

Wining, Dining and Blogging in Chianti Classico (#EWBC), Tuscany, Italy

Dining and Wining where the Royals Eat: Dario Cecchini’s Solo Cicca Restaurant in Panzano – the Butcher of Chianti Classico

Meeting Wine Maker Paolo Cianferoni at his Caparsa Estate in Chianti Classico, Italy

The evening consisted of 4 parts. We first toured the wine cellar with co-owner and wine maker Roberto Stucchi Prinetti and learnt a lot about Badia a Coltibuono’s wine making philosophy, including Roberto’s commitment to organic wine making. We then were treated to a short cooking class in the kitchen of Badia a Coltibuono. This was followed by a reception in one of the stunning rooms of Badia a Coltibuono. We finished the evening with a gorgeous winemaker dinner lead by Roberto and Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti.

Sienna, Florence and Chianti Classico

The Chianti Classico region covers an area of approximate 100 square miles between the city of Florence to the north and the city of Siena to the south. Historically, the Chianti Classico zone is where the production of Chianti started.

In 1716, Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, issued an edict legislating that the three villages of the Lega del Chianti as well as the village of Greve and a 2 mile hillside north of Greve as the only officially recognized producers of Chianti. This delineation existed until the 1930s when the Italian government expanded the zone. Subsequent expansions throughout the twentieth century would eventually bring the Chianti zone to cover almost all of Tuscany. The original zone of the edict of Cosimo III de' Medici would eventually be considered the heart of the Chianti Classico region.

Pictures: Roberto Stucchi Prinetti

The Chianti Classico zone is a truly unending source of culture, scenery, architecture, gastronomy and wines. Here lie the lines of defense of the two Republics, Siena and Florence, which have scowled at each other through its woods and vineyards for centuries. Interspersed with the countryside are castles: some are still occupied by the noble families whose ancestors built them in the feudal middle ages; others - ruined, perhaps in battle centuries ago, and abandoned - still dominate their hilltops with proud arrogance. There are numerous hill towns and hamlets, villas and farmhouses, guarded by sentinel cypresses, by people who may make their living tending the vineyards, or have already made more than a living and have retired to beautiful old houses.

Sangiovese - the Soul of Chianti

Sangiovese is the signature grape of Chianti. It is the soul of Chianti wine. The Sangiovese grape, like the Pino Noir, is not an easy grape variety, but has the potential of producing world class wines.

Since 2006, the use of white grape varieties such as Malvasia and Trebbiano has been prohibited in Chianti Classico. The share of Sangiovese can range from 80% to up to 100%, with the remainder either other native red grapes, like Canaiolo and Colorino, or international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Wines that do not comply with these rules – of which we tasted a number during the trip - cannot be sold as Chianti Classico.

Badia a Coltibuono 

Badia a Coltibuono (which means Abbey of the Good Harvest) dates from the eleventh century, when  the monks of the Vallombrosan Order founded the Abbey and began planting the first vineyards in the Upper Chianti area. Over the centuries, the monks amassed hundreds of hectares of land. In 1810, when Tuscany was under Napoleonic rule, the monks were forced to leave Coltibuono and the monastery was secularized. The estate was first sold by lottery. It was in 1846 that one of Roberto and Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti forefathers, the Florentine banker Guido Giuntini, acquired Coltibuono.

After World War II, Piero Stucchi Prinetti, the son of Maria Luisa Stucchi Giuntini, took charge of the property and transformed Badia a Coltibuono into what it is today. He began to bottle and sell his wines on the domestic and international markets. And he was the first to realize the potential of another traditional product of the region, its extra virgin olive oil. Piero Stucchi Prinetti passed away in 2002.

Today, the vineyards and the winemaking side are looked after by Piero’s son Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, while his sister Emanuela looks after the commercial side. His brother Paolo oversees the Coltibuono restaurant; and the youngest brother Guido runs hospitality.

Badia a Coltibuono includes vineyards (70 hectares), olive groves (20 hectares) and a forest (700 hectares). Annual production of wine from Badia a Coltibuona vineyards is 400.000 bottles. In addition, the Stucchi family also has a second line of wines “Coltibuono”, where grapes a bought from other producers. Annual production is 600.000 bottles.

Crop Sharing

Like most Tuscan estates, until well after world war II Badia a Coltibuono was farmed through mezzadria, a crop sharing system in which the land of the estate was divided into farms, or poderi. The poderi were worked by one or more families, and were pretty much self sufficient, producing everything the residents needed to live.

The crop sharing system included wine. Each podere harvested the vineyards they tended, and made the wine in the podere's cellar, under the supervision of the Badia. With the fermentation complete, the Stucchi Prinetti’s share was transferred to the cellars of the Badia.

Organic Vine Growing

The wine estate, which uses organic methods, has been certified as organic since 2000. Here is what Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti has to say about this: “I supported the choice made by my brother Roberto to convert Badia a Coltibuono to organic farming, because I feel that it strengthens the true identity of this estate. Badia a Coltibuono has witnessed one thousand years of history, all of it recorded in the monk's manuscripts, farm registers and family diaries, which are carefully preserved in the "Library of Passions" . A strong identity which we respect and that has always inspired us. For centuries, this vast and magnificent estate was self-sufficient and was managed following the farming methods first developed by the monks. In the 11th century the vallombrosian monks renewed agriculture, creating for the first time in European history a truly sustainable farming system. Recognizing the importance of this heritage, and the relevance to today's issues, motivated us to change direction. We have chosen to walk away from the easy lures of modern winemaking fashions. In the past decades the use of pesticides, chemical treatments, weed-killers and the like has led to practices which deplete the soil without re-generating it, that homogenize tastes and that pose a significant threat to our health and well-being. Since we have embraced organic methods of agriculture, we are enjoying the pleasures of cultivating the life force of this place, and experience is showing that our products, our Chianti Classico wines and our extra virgin olive oils, are gaining an ever stronger identity. Gradually the wines and oils are improving in quality. They express with strength and authenticity their origins: their colour and perfumes sing the song of these rugged hills of Chianti and through their taste they have the power to re-create one thousand images of the unique beauty of our region."

In the Cellar with Roberto Stucchi Prinetti

Upon arrival, half of us were taken on a cellar tour by Roberto, while the other half attended the kitchen presentation. The centuries old wine cellar is indeed impressive.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Owner/Wine Maker Roberto Stucchi Prinetti at Badia in the Wine Cellar of Badia a Coltibuono

“All wines are aged in large barrels” said Roberto. “We do not like international grape varieties like Merlot or Sauvigon Blanc and do not grow them. We therefore produce mainly Chianti Classico. Our Super-Tusacan is a 100% Sangiovese-based wine.”

“Half of our wines are exported to the US. I go 4 times a year to the United States.”

The Wines of Badia a Coltibuono

During the cellar tour and during the rest of the evening, we talked a lot about Badia a Coltibuono’s wine portfolio. There are two lines of wines – Badia a Coltibuono, all with grapes sourced from the Badia a Coltibuono Estate and Coltibuono, made with grapes bought from other producers.

Picture: Badia a Coltibuono Wines

Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Sangiovese 90% - Canaiolo 10%, Alc 14%
Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva Sangiovese 90% - Canaiolo 10%, Alc 13.5%
Cultus Boni Chianti Classico Sangiovese 80% - Ciliegiolo 10% - Colorino 5% - Merlot 5%, Alc 15%
Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto Sangiovese 100%, Alc 13.5%- This is the estate's "Super Tuscan"
Vin Santo Badia a Coltibuono Trebbiano 50% - Malvasia 50%, Alc 14%

The Stucchi Prinetti family also has a second line of wine, where the grapes are bought in the market:

Picture: Coltibuono Wines

Selezione RS Chianti Classico Sangiovese 100%, Alc 13%
Trappoline IGT Chardonnay 60% Sauvignon Blanc 40%, Alc 12.5%
Cancelli IGT Sangiovese 70% - Syrah 30%, Alc 13.5%
Cetamura Chianti Sangiovese 90% - Canaiolo 10% , Alc 12.5%
Cetamura Rosato Sangiovese – Canaiolo, Alc 12.5%
Cetamura Bianco Trebbiano 50% - Malvasia 20% - Sauvignon Blanc 30%, Alc 12.5%

Pappa al Pomodoro

Prior to dinner we were treated to a cooking demonstration by Andrea Gagnesi, the Chef at the Badia a Coltibuono kitchen. He made pappa al pomodoro (dense bread and tomato soup).

Pictures: Cooking Demonstration by Andrea Gagnesi, the Chef at the Badia a Coltibuono Kitchen - Pappa al Pomodoro (dense bread and tomato soup).

Lorenza de' Medici, the mother of Emanuela and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, started the culinary school at Badia a Coltibuono in 1980, which from the beginning attracted visitors primarily from the United States. Many of her books were distributed internationally. She also produced The De’ Medici Kitchen, a television series (fourteen in all) for the American PBS television station.


We were invited by Emanuela and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti to a wonderful reception in the drawing room ( with an amazing ceiling). During the reception, we had a chance to taste the Stucchi Prinetti family's second line of wines, the Coltibuono line.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Emanuela Stucchi Prinettiat the Reception

Wining and Dining with Emanuela and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti

Emanuela and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti hosted a very special dinner for us. The wonderful dinner was accompanied by excellent wine pairings.

Pictures: Dinner with Emanuela and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti

We started dinner with meat and cheese appetizers.

Next, we were served Pappa al Pomodorro soup.

The soup was followed by a beans with pork loin entrée.

We finished dinner with a chocolate dessert, paired with Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico.

Over dinner we drank three Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classicos: the 2008 Chianti Classico,  the 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva and the 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva. The 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva was a very fine example of a mature Chianti Classico with delicate concentration, at 13.5 % alcohol. The 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva was bigger, but more cloying at 15% alcohol.

Badia a Coltibuono,
loc. Badia a Coltibuono 53013
Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Italy
Tel: +39 0577 746110
Fax: (+39) 0577 746165

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  1. Christian,

    Wonderful post! Thanks for the extensive story and the good pictures.

    Best Regards,


  2. Wow, what a fabulous experience. Thanks for sharing with us...

  3. Badia a Coltibuono sells really well in our restaurant in St. Julian's, Malta.