Badia a Coltibuono is right outside the village of Gaiole in Chianti and we hopped in the car and cruised up there for an 11am tour and tasting one morning. Not surprisingly, there were only two of us with the fortitude to carry on after the previous night’s feast and vino drinking — not to mention the comfy lounge chairs calling out to us from the villa’s luxurious swimming pool.
There is no actual grape growing at the estate of Badia a Coltibuono, which is an ancient monastery dating back to the 11th century. It’s too cold to grow wine grapes up there so the vineyards and winery are situated at lower altitude levels in Monti in Chianti. The estate is somewhat of a spectacle of activity with tours, tastings, restaurants, accommodations, a cooking school and direct sales of wine and olive oil. The views, however, are tremendous and the grounds sculptured and beautiful.
We were part of a guided tour, which has its drawbacks including the requisite group of loud, obnoxious Texans (no offense to the longhorn state) who are out to be heard – and be drinkin’! The tour, though, was conducted in an interesting manner and we were able to carry our generous and successive tastes of Rose, Chianti Classico and Sangioveto along with us while we explored the grounds, the ageing cellars and, finally, the rustic tasting room.
The Rose, 2006 Cetamura Rosato ($10), was a disappointment to me and a little too sweet for my taste but the crowd seemed pleased. The basic 2005 Chianti Classico ($18 - $20) was bright and fresh, forward and fruity and was drinking nicely for such a young wine. While it was not altogether exciting, it is a solid everyday drinking red if you prefer a more forward style. The 2003 Sangioveto ($65 - $70), a 100% Sangiovese labeled IGT and made from older vines, was huge and tannic but with good ripe fruit from this hot vintage. In my estimation, there are better IGT wines out there with more personality.
All in all, the tour and the wines were a little standard but a pleasant place to visit on a nice day. Chin, Chin!