11 November 2010

chianti petillante: la colombaia @ avn dégustation, 75019

Tasting the wines of Helena Lomazzi, right, with Cyril from Le Verre Volé, left.
At what is essentially a loose conference of rebellious Vin de Table-happy vignerons, it's pretty hard to stand out simply by presenting weird wines. ("They're weird - and?" being the implicit response.) But La Colombaia's Helena Lomazzi, who was also notable for being the only Italian vigneron in the room* at Monday's Association des Vins Naturels Grand Dégustation, had a bottle that actually made me laugh, it was so joyously strange.

A sparkling Chianti.

Alright, it wasn't exactly a Chianti. It was Toscana IGT. But had it not been sparkling, it would have qualified in terms of grape percentages, at least. La Colombaia's pink Vino Rosato is 70% Sangiovese, with the rest made up of other once-typical Chianti blenders like Colorino, Malvasia Nera, and Canaiolo.

In contrast, what marginal whites and rare sparklers are produced in Tuscany have, in my experience, almost all relied on the lamentably dull Trebbiano di Toscana grape. (Italy is home to about a zillion different grapes called Trebbiano, only a few of which are interesting. The di Toscana variety is not one.) Meanwhile, I've encountered the odd Tuscan rosé of Sangiovese or Ciliegiolo, but nothing remotely impactful. My expectations were at zero for this wine.

Fermented and aged in bottiglia, with no added sulfur, La Colombaia's Vino Rosato actually compared very favorably to a range of fractious biodynamic Champagnes on the other end of the table. It had great grinning cherry-grapefruit tones, and a blooming-but-controlled bubble structure, and it made me wish I still had an Italian wine list to play with. It would have been a total shoe-in.

A totally indulgent side note: at my former Michelin-starred Italian restaurant workplace, it was my unfulfilled dream to offer a Broken Chianti tasting, which would have been prohibitively expensive, and which would have consisted of an Isole e Olena Cepparello (100% Sangiovese), a Bibi Graetz Canaiolo di Testamatta (100% Canaiolo), and a Casaglia Rosso by Marchese Pancrazi (100% Colorino). It would have been a 50 dollar over-conceptual red-teeth gimmick, but a fun one.

*Two bottles of Frank Cornelissen's feral Etna wines were knocking around, but the man himself was across town having what was by all accounts an epic lunch with my friend J. 

La Colombaia
Mensanello 24
53034 Colle di val d'Elsa
Siena - ITALIA

Related Links:

Catherine Vergé at same AVN Grand Dégustation


  1. Drank the Mujebel 6 tonight with crabs cooked in old bay and PBR. Yow.

    That's a powerful situation. Definitely Radikon/Graver-esque, but with more fruit. A little bit friendlier than his Friulian counterparts...but relatively violent to my wallet.

  2. i don't know... i find both Radikon's and Gravner's wines to be, despite their reputation for strangeness, significantly more stable than Cornelissen's output. i guess i detect more intention in the former wines, where the latter still feel a little like outsider art - compelling, but untested by history, or even any contemporary peers. he really splits the difference between wild undrinkable farm wine and high viticulture.

    for me, the magma is impressive but unpleasant, and the jury's still out on the whites. i like some of the hilariously unreliable contadino rossi. (i recall liking #6 the best.)