Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Ribollita + Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino 2016 #ItalianFWT

I tracked down this bottle in preparation for this month's edition of #ItalianFWT. The Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers are writing about women in the Italian wine industry with Pinny of Chinese Food & Wine Pairings leading the discussion. You can read her invitation: here.

But when I saw this same bottle in Pinny's invitation along with the caption - Can't wait to taste the 2016 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino  - I decided to go a different direction. I find it more interesting when we all share about different bottles. So, this is a bonus post for the month.

In the Glass

Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s family has been in the winemaking business for centuries and she was among the first Italian producers to understand the importance of wine-related tourism. In the early 1990s, she founded the nonprofit association Movimento Turismo del Vino, which translates to 'wine tourism movement.' She is also a fervent advocate for women in the wine industry and holds a leadership role in the Associazione Nazionale Le Donne del Vino, the National Association of Women in Wine.

When she was starting out at the family estates her parents had given her - Casato in Montalcino and Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda - she inquired about getting some help from the enologial school in Siena. She was told that all of the male students had already been picked up by other winemakers, but that there were nine female students who needed job. Cinelli Columbini altered the name of the Casato estate in Montalcino to Casato Prime Donne (first ladies). The estate consists of nearly 20 hectares of vineyards and, in a revolutionary move, Cinelli Columbini hired a completely female winemaking staff. Every single winemaker at Casato Prime Donne is female!

Additionally, Cinelli Colombini’s daughter, Violante Gardini, is in charge of marketing, as well as holding a leadership position within the Tuscan chapter of the Movimento Turismo del Vino. The company’s consulting enologist is another woman, Valérie Lavigne.

Interestingly enough, Cinelli Columbini's family has owned Casato since the late 1500s and it has passed through the matrilinear paths. Before Donatella headed up the property, it belonged to her grandmother, then her mother; and it will pass to Violante when Donatella retires.

The three doves on the Rosso di Montalcino label represent Donatella; her husband, Carlo; and her daughter, Violante. This wine has heady mineral aromas at the forefront, but it's layered with red fruits and warming spices. You get the sensation of warmth on the tongue with notes of clay, leather, and mace (or nutmeg). A full-bodied wine with a lingering finish, Jake and I sipped this for dinner and throughout the evening. What a great pour!

Typically I think of pairing Sangioveses with roasted meats or hearty pastas. Instead, I opted to make one of my favorite easy soups: ribollita.

 In the Bowl

Ribollita is a thick, hearty Tuscan stew rife with dark leafy greens and meaty beans. And what makes it a perfect revamp is that it's made with crusty, day-old bread that is torn into rustic pieces. The bread simmer and absorbs the broth, transforming into almost pillowy dumplings. I should mention that ribollita is one of those Italian dishes that has as many variation as there are Italian nonne! So, this may look different than versions you've had before. Really, my pots look different depending on the season.

For this pot, I used some bread from one of my favorite local bread shops, Ad Astra Bread Co. owned by Chef Ron Mendoza. I admitted to him the last time I was there that he has single-handedly stymied my desire to learn to bake sourdough bread. Why should I when his shop is less than a mile from my house?! And it's rare that we actually have leftover bread because as soon as I walk in with an Ad Astra bag, they tear it out my hands and start slicing. I thought I was hiding the bread in the fruit basket on top of the fridge until my 6'2" child asked why I put things "at eye level" if it I didn't intend for him to find it. Oye. Okay! It's not at my eye level!

Also, if you do not save the rind from your wedges of parmigiano reggiano, shame on you! It imparts a beautiful flavor to your soups. I also used precooked beans as a shortcut. Feel free to cook your beans from scratch, like this.

Ingredients serve 6
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and diced, approximately 1-1/2 C
  • 3 to 4 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped, approximately 1 C
  • 1 T + 1/4 C olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 6 to 7 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 4 C water (or you can use chicken stock, or a combination of water and stock)
  • 2 bunches organic lacinto kale (also called Tuscan kale or cavolo nero, black cabbage), destemmed and torn into 2" pieces
  • 1 wedge of parmigiano reggiano with rind sliced off
  • 1-1/2 C cooked beans (I used cannellini beans), drained
  • 4 C torn day-old bread
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground salt


Make sure that your pot can fit into the oven. I use a Dutch oven and had to move my rack one notch lower. Preheat to oven to 450° F.

Heat 1 T olive oil in your pot and add onions and celery. Cook until the onions are softened and translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in additional 1/4 C olive oil and stir in your tomatoes. Let the tomatoes soften and become soupy, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Pour in water stir in the kale and the beans. Then tuck your parmigiano reggiano rind into the liquid and bring to a simmer. Cook until the kale wilts and the beans are warmed through. Stir 2 C of the bread into the stew and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Place the remaining 2 C bread on top of the stew and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Place the pot, uncovered, into the preheated oven and bake until thickened and bubbling, appcoximately 10 to 12 minutes.

Ladle stew into bowls. Drizzle each serving with more olive oil. And let diners grate Parmesan over the top.

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