March 26, 2018
 

IL COLLE DI CATERINA CARLI

2015 Rosso di Montalcino
Retail:  $46.95/btl  (6 btl/cs)

2012 Brunello di Montalcino
Retail:  $81.95/btl  (6 btl/cs)

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About il Colle

Il Colle was established in 1972 by Alberto Carli, assisted in winemaking by his friend Giulio Gambelli, only 4 years after the Brunello di Montalcino DOC was formally established.  Alberto died in 2001, leaving his daughter Caterina to learn from the old master until Gambelli’s death in 2012. Caterina now has sole responsibility for the winemaking and vineyards, and, judging by the wines currently in bottle and cask, the legacy is in safe hands.

It’s hard to understate the importance of Giulio Gambelli – il grande maestro del sangiovese – on the Tuscan wine landscape.  Gambelli was mentored by Tancredi Biondi Santi (from the age of 14), and a long time consultant to a number of benchmark estates, including Montevertine and Soldera, in an illustrious career spanning a remarkable 70 vintages.  His greatest impact may have been as an unwavering proponent of the use of the Sangiovese grape as a monovarietal at a time when Tuscan wineries were experimenting blending Sangiovese with international varieties in pursuit of broader markets.  In this he was far ahead of his time.  The importance of Sangiovese is now undisputed in Tuscany, and it was Gambelli’s work that led to that recognition.  

Il Colle is a tiny family estate in the traditional heart of Montalcino.  Located in the higher reaches of the Brunello zone on thin soil over ancient mineral-rich deposits, il Colle is perfectly situated to produce elegant, classically styled Brunello.  Alberto planted 3 hectares of Sangiovese Grosso (aka Brunello) in 1972 at 400-450 metres.  In 1998 he added a further 4 hectares of vineyard at 220 metres in Castelnuovo dell’Abate with the idea to further enhance her wine and naturally balance il Colle’s nervy, acid-driven fruit with more intensity and tannin.  Of today’s 7 hectares of vineyard, 5 ha are classified for Brunello, 1.5 ha for Rosso di Montalcino, and 0.5 ha of Sant’ Antimo.  The resulting annual production comprises about 20,000 bottles of Brunello and 9,000 bottles of Rosso di Montalcino.  All of the vineyards are harvested by hand, and as of 2019 the wines will be certified organic.

Employing natural yeasts, no temperature control, long maceration on skins, and no filtering, Caterina ages her Brunellos in 500 to 5,000 litre botti made of Slavonian & Allier oak – eschewing the use of barriques – which translates to less oak influence and more varietal nuance.  Following the philosophy and spirit of Gambelli, her goal is to allow the vineyard to express itself in a clean environment, respecting the tradition of the region. No external factors can affect the wine, other than the vineyard and the vintage.  The wines of il Colle reflect the classic power and structure of Brunello without the lifeless severity of some traditionalists or the plush anonymity of some modernists. They are a tribute to the hillsides of Montalcino, the humble foresight and clarity of Giulio Gambelli, and the commitment of Caterina Carli.  The Brunello spends four years in barrel and one year in bottle before release – and therefore would qualify as Riserva, although Caterina respects Gambelli’s opinion that Riserva is a very rare honour.

“One of the small jewels in Montalcino's original growing area” – Kerin O'Keefe