Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2017
#55 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2022
Complex aromas open with small, red ripe fruits and plum jam, followed by toasted and vanilla notes. Excellent structure, this wine is full-bodied and balanced. The enveloping tannic structure leads to a fruit-forward, lingering finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Made with certified organic fruit, the Col d'Orcia 2017 Brunello di Montalcino definitely shows some of the heat of the vintage, and I think this impression is reinforced by the location of this property on the southern side of the appellation, where temperatures are normally a few degrees higher on average. The winemaking team at this historic estate is not deterred by hot vintages, and their winemaking protocol captures the freshness and brightness of Sangiovese nonetheless. In fact, the alcohol content here measured 14.5%, which is almost contained, compared to some other wines in this report from cooler subzones. A learned comfort with organic farming is key to this wine's detailed aromas of black cherry, crushed rose and Mediterranean herb. Best after 2024.
This red offers plenty of cherry, strawberry, wild thyme and sage flavors. Starts out on the elegant side, before chewy tannins kick in and show a more robust character. Balanced and long, with tobacco and earth accents on the finish. Best from 2025.
Subtle aromas of underbrush, new leather, tobacco and camphor waft out of the glass. Tightly knit and full-bodied, the palate features dried cherry, star anise and ground clove framed in rather assertive, close-grained tannins. Best After 2024
As one of the original estates of Montalcino and now the largest certified organic estate in Tuscany, Col d’Orcia is a leader in Brunello di Montalcino, helping to define and promote one of Italy’s most prestigious wine regions. Tradition, integrity and sustainability are the pillars of the estate, whose classic style wines are celebrated all over the world.
Situated on the outskirts of the medieval hilltop village of Montalcino in Tuscany’s Siena province, the estate has a rich winemaking history that dates back to the 1700s. In 1973, the estate was purchased by the Cinzano family, who markedly increased the vineyard holdings. They are now the third largest owner of Brunello vineyards in Montalcino. Proudly defined as an ‘organic island,’ Col d’Orcia is committed to maintaining the natural environment in which it operates and has, for many years, employed organic farming practices. The entire estate includes vineyards, gardens, olive groves, tobacco and wheat fields, which are all farmed following exclusively organic agricultural practices. In 2010, the estate underwent the organic farming certification process and is now the largest certified organic wine producing farm in all of Tuscany.
The estate’ name translates to “the hill overlooking the Orcia River,” due to its position in the undulating hills between the Orcia River and Sant’Angelo in Colle. Here, southern orientations provide vines with abundant exposure to sunshine and vineyard soils comprised of limestone and marl facilitate natural irrigation. Located at about 1500 feet above sea level, the estate is favorably positioned against Mount Amiata (5,700 feet) which helps shield the property from floods and hail. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with limited rainfall coming in from the Tyrrhenian coast, 21 miles away.
The estate is currently owned and managed by Count Francesco Marone Cinzano. A world traveler with boundless energy, the Count is a tireless ambassador for his estate as well as the Montalcino region. Under his leadership, plantings have expanded exponentially at Col d’Orcia and the estate has been transformed into an organic farm.
Famous for its bold, layered and long-lived red, Brunello di Montalcino, the town of Montalcino is about 70 miles south of Florence, and has a warmer and drier climate than that of its neighbor, Chianti. The Sangiovese grape is king here, as it is in Chianti, but Montalcino has its own clone called Brunello.
The Brunello vineyards of Montalcino blanket the rolling hills surrounding the village and fan out at various elevations, creating the potential for Brunello wines expressing different styles. From the valleys, where deeper deposits of clay are found, come wines typically bolder, more concentrated and rich in opulent black fruit. The hillside vineyards produce wines more concentrated in red fruits and floral aromas; these sites reach up to over 1,600 feet and have shallow soils of rocks and shale.
Brunello di Montalcino by law must be aged a minimum of four years, including two years in barrel before realease and once released, typically needs more time in bottle for its drinking potential to be fully reached. The good news is that Montalcino makes a “baby brother” version. The wines called Rosso di Montalcino are often made from younger vines, aged for about a year before release, offer extraordinary values and are ready to drink young.
Among Italy's elite red grape varieties, Sangiovese has the perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino. Somm Secret—Sangiovese doubles under the alias, Nielluccio, on the French island of Corsica where it produces distinctly floral and refreshing reds and rosés.