Week 13 – Colombaia, Vigna Vecchia 2009

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A long time ago, just as I started appreciating wine, I clung to everything that tasted good. When I discovered a sangiovese I liked, I would drink it it for weeks on end. After several attempts to replicate the same joy with wines from different producers failed miserably however, I just gave up on the variety for a long time. Luckily there was a turnaround when I discovered the wines made by Chianti staples like Fonterutoli, Castello della Paneretta (first wine I ever bought by the case!) and Fattoria Rodano. I gradually eased into Brunello di Montalcino thanks to Gianni Brunelli, but then we are talking about a difference price range, so this was a bit of a dampening factor on my enthusiasm. The enthusiasm remained though. During a recent Italy tasting, my friend who had organized the evening included one of his favourite IGT wines after going through Chianti and Brunello to show that you can look beyond the well-known names.

Colombaia is one of those estates that does not compromise. Following all the scandals that haunt Tuscany since the start of the millennium, they took the bold decision to no longer produce their wines under the Chianti Colli Senesi appellation starting in 2006. Without the umbrella of international branding to hide under, you have to make sure that the wine you produce can rise beyond and above what people expect from a simple IGT. Colombaia definitely manages to deliver with their Vigna Vecchia 2009, a sangiovese-based blend of a couple of local varieties aged for 36 months in botti (large casks).

The estate has been working organically since the early nineties and was certified in 2010. I often find that organically produced reds need a lot of air to open up, which was also the case with the Vigna Vecchia as I got quite a bit of reduction on the nose. After a while the fruitiness surfaces, mainly cherries, but there is also a certain smokiness, even a bit of leather that adds some complexity. On the palate it is a real winner, fresh, a dominating acidity that is set off with a tannic structure taking over near the end, smoothly en route to integration. This is already drinking delicious now but, given that the fruity freshness remains, cellaring will be rewarded!

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