~ The all female team at Donatella Cinelli Colombini.  At far left is Donatella’s daughter, Violante,  who among other roles, handles marketing for the estate ~

Prima Donna, first lady of the stage…….

In 1998, after a contentious familial split,  Donatella Cinelli Colombini left her family’s estate to start her own endeavour. As part of the agreement, Donatella emerged with the Casato Estate in Montalcino. Along with the vineyards, cellars and farmhouses needing renovation, Donatella received a quantity of Brunello di Montalcino and required  a cellar master to oversee its barrel-ageing.
She called the Oenology school in Siena asking for a recommended student to hire. She was told that none were available and that these needed to be arranged years in advance. However, they mentioned that they had many female cellar masters available since no important winery in Italy wanted to employ them.  The Prime Donne project was born!
~ Donatella Cinelli Colombini ~
Prime Donne means “First Women” in Italian and is indeed an apt name for a winery managed, directed and maintained by an all woman team.   Although women are no strangers to the wine industry in Italy, many being 2nd or 3rd generation siblings and having inherited estates, roles and winemaking duties from deceased or retired parents, Casato Prime Donne is groundbreaking in it’s unique design. 
~ Cellars at the Casato Estate ~
From 16 hectares of vineyards, planted solely to Sangiovese, Colombini produces four wines:  An estate Brunello, the Brunello Prime Donne, a Brunello Riserva and a Rosso di Montalcino.  Unique is the Brunello Prime Donne, as the fruit destined for that wine is chosen, tasted, and blended by a panel of four female wine professionals including a Master of Wine among others.  Prime Donne is produced and aged in the traditional manner using solely botte. 

~ Staff topping off a large botte holding wine that will become Brunello Prime Donne.  The Casato Cellar is decorated with murals amid the frescoes that depict various scenes from Montalcino’s history ~
While the estate Brunello will be featured in my upcoming 2009 Brunello tasting report, today we are focusing on the estate’s Rosso di Montalcino.   We opened this last night with a wonderful, savory dish of Pork Medallions in a rich amaretto tinged sauce.  The pairing was wonderful. 
In the glass, the 2011 Rosso di Montalcino is a vibrant violet color – very attractive to look at.  The vitality in the color seems to carry through to the aromas and flavors.   Wonderful aromas eminate from the glass including crushed wild berry, fresh flowers, piney underbrush and sage/tobacco notes.  It’s so attractive.  On the palate, there is no let down.  The wine is juicy and lively with bright flavors of ripe raspberry, cherry, fresh fennel, and sweet pipe tobacco.  Medium bodied with fresh acidity this is so well balanced and leads to a long, juicy (and dare I say) feminine finish.  Very well done. 90 points. SRP ~ $28.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample. 
~ 2011 Rosso di Montalcino:  The three doves on the label represent Donatella, Violante, and Donatella’s husband ~
E vero!
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