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Giulio Gambelli at Il Colle

In the winery & Giulio Gambelli

In honor of the late Giulio Gambelli, who worked first with Alberto Carli at Il Colle, and then with Alberto’s daughter Caterina, we recently received a few bottles of select  vintages, all of which were crafted at the hands and palate of Giulio and Alberto.  And though the origins of Il Colle date no further than 1972, the true story of its inception remains a bit of a mystery.  One version of the origin story states that Alberto had purchased the vineyards with his wife, Ernesta, in 1972, yet it’s also been said that Alberto planted vines with Gambelli in 1972, only to surprise Ernesta as he lay dying with a cellar full of unsold vintages that the two men had made together.  And while we might never get to the must of the story at the bottom of the barrel, we do have on hand the most recent vintage of Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino–2005–which happens to be the same year that Il Colle joined us here at T. Edward Wines.

Discovered at the age of 14 by Tancredi Biondo Santi for his precocious palate, Gambelli was then hired as a tasting assistant at the Enopolio Cooperative, one of the largest wineries in the region.  Moving on to later advise estates with cult followings, such as Soldera since 1976, and Montevertine–Le Pergole Torte, Gambelli worked with Il Colle until his final vintage, 2011.

Known as maestro assaggiatore, a master taster, Gambelli championed Sangiovese as a grape with brilliant potential.  At a time when most members of the then recently formed Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (established in 1967) housed their cellars in old stables and stalls, Gambelli emphasized the importance of sanitation in the winery.

Vineyards at Il Colle & Caterina Carli (photo credit)

One of the “small jewels in Montalcino’s original growing area” (Kerin O’Keefe’s Brunello di Montalcino), Il Colle was once a part of Conti Costanti’s Colle al Matrichese, a property that sits at a high altitude of 400-450 meters.  Yielding delicate wines, the fruit of these vineyards came to be blended with grapes from a more southern vineyard–in Castelnuovo dell’Abate at 220 meters–that the family had purchased in 1998.

Working with Gambelli, Alberto adhered strictly to Gambelli’s traditional techniques, as did Caterina who took over the rustic winery when Alberto passed away in 2001.  Employing natural yeasts, no temperature control, long maceration on skins, and no filtering, Alberto aged his Brunellos in Slavonian botti.  “The winery has changed very little in the past 35 to 40 years,” says Greg Reeves, our Italian Portfolio Director.  “Allowing the vineyard to express itself in a clean environment, Gambelli was all about tradition.  No external factors could affect the wine, other than the vineyard and the vintage.”

With Caterina still committed to practicing  the techniques of Gambelli, no wine is released before it’s ready.  The Brunello di Montalcino spends at least four years in the barrel and one year in bottle, and so the 2006 is due to arrive in the fall.  For those who are interested in the older vintages, please inquire, as we still have a few bottles in stock.

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