Badia a Corte Riserva – Vinum Florentinum
Take the old Via Roma (SP1) southeast from Florence towards Rignano sull’Arno. After only 10 km, you’ll find Torre a Cona, a magnificent 18th-century Renaissance estate. It makes wine and olive oil and now offers fine dining and hospitality. Torre a Cona is one of the best wine estates in the Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG. One of their top red wines is a Riserva called Badia a Corte.
The Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG
Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG is one of the seven designated sub-zones of Chianti. It occupies only 330 hectares, representing less than 3% of the Chianti vineyard area, while 27 wineries form the Consorzio. The vineyards border the city of Florence, wrapping around Chianti Classico DOCG to the south while meeting Chianti Rufina DOCG in the north.
Historically, this is the birthplace of Renaissance Italy. It became known for making Vinum Florentinum – the main wine of Florence. Being so small, it doesn’t enjoy the now stellar reputation (or price tags) of neighbouring Chianti Classico. However, the best estates in the Colli Fiorentini, such as Torre a Cona, rival those of Classico.
Torre a Cona – the Estate
Occupying a natural balcony above the area’s rolling hills at 350-400 metres, Torre a Cona enjoys a panoramic view of the Florentine countryside. The villa is set in a 20-hectare park, surrounded by 200 hectares of fields, woods, vineyards, and olive groves. The Conti Rossi di Montelera owns this historic residence, which has been in the family since 1935.
The first settlement here was recorded in 1066 as the Castle of Quona. The ancient Torre (tower) is all that remains from the twelfth century when it served as a watchtower. Meanwhile, the villa dates from the eighteenth century and was built in Renaissance style for the Rinuccini family – Florentine merchants. Opera fans will know that Ottavio Rinuccini was the first opera librettist and worked with Monteverdi.
While the central villa remains private, a wing has been converted into 20 rooms for luxury wine tourism. Additionally, there are two large farmhouses nearby with apartments for agriturismo.
Torre a Cona – Wine production.
The vineyards cover 18 hectares. Reds are Sangiovese (10 ha), Merlot (2.5 ha), and Colorino (2 ha). White Trebbiano and Malvasia (3.5 ha) are exclusively for Vin Santo. These vineyards are relatively high up, between 300 – 400 metres, facing south and southeast. These include the classic alberese white limestone soils, which reflect sunlight and are free-draining. The microclimate is governed by the valley that opens in front of the vineyards, creating updraughts of air and wide diurnal temperature variation.
Agronomist Federico Curtaz manages the vineyards, using sustainable agriculture to preserve the local ecosystem. Harvests are by hand and generally commence in mid-September and often last through late October.
The ancient wine cellars protected artworks by Michelangelo and Donatello during the Second World War. These days, they contain modern vinification and maturation equipment. Temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and rows of large inert Slavonian oak casks are typically Tuscan. Winemaker Beppe Caviola and his team run the cellars, making an extensive wine range totalling 100,000 bottles annually.
A blend of Sangiovese and Colorino makes the entry-level Chianti Colli Fiorentini Crociferro, while Fontesanta is a Sangiovese-based Rosato. Then there are two monovarietal reds, Merlot IGT (Il Merlot)and Colorino IGT (Casamaggio). There are two versions of Vin Santo, namely Merlaia (from Trebbiano and Malvasia) and Occhio di Pernice Fonti e Lecceta (from Sangiovese). Their dry white wine is Vermentino, from grapes grown in the Maremma.
The top wines are two single-vineyard Chianti Colli Fiorentina Riservas. Both are 100% Sangiovese; Terre di Cino and Badia a Corte.
Badia a Corte, Chianti Colli Fiorentini Riserva DOCG, 2018. 14%
Badia a Corte is an old one-hectare vineyard at 360 metres, shown on an eighteenth-century map. The vines are 25-40 years old. After the grape pressing, fermentation is in stainless steel. Maturation time totals 36 months. The first 24 months are in oak casks, before another 12 months in the bottle under Nomacorc. This duration exceeds the minimum Riserva requirements (two years, including at least six months in wood). It’s a Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri award-winning wine with 20,000 bottles annually.
Being young, decanting this wine for an hour before serving is helpful. In the glass, Badia a Corte is a lively, bright ruby with garnet flecks. Aromatically, this wine offers Sangiovese typicity: sour cherry, violets and undergrowth. The palate has precision acidity with fine tannins and reprises the sour cherry fruit, adding bergamot/loose tea complexity. There’s also an attractive leathery note, somehow autumnal, which appears on an excellent length.
The absence of toast or vanilla is worth noting, as while the maturation was mostly in wooden casks, those are inert. There is plenty of elegance and finesse in this authentic taste of the Florentine countryside. Drinking well now, it could age over the next decade at least.
Stockists and food suggestions
Badia a Corte also offers terrific value, at £19.44 from Xtrawine.
This style of wine comes alive with food. Beef is usually the traditional pairing, though lamb and pork are good too. Consequently, slow-cooked Brisket made a terrific match with this bottle. However, the classic match is undoubtedly Bistecca alla Fiorentina, especially after a long day on your feet in the Uffizi!