Claudio Tipa, the heart and soul of ColleMassari
The declared love for Tuscany, between great wines and castles
For 20 years, Claudio Tipa has owned, with his sister Maria Iris, the mother of Ernesto Bertarelli (owner of Alinghi), Tenuta di ColleMassari, situated in the Montecucco DOC appellation in Maremma, before adding Podere Grattamacco in Bolgheri, a winery that has bound his name with the flagship wine, followed by Poggio di Sotto and San Giorgio in Montalcino. A sponsor and sports enthusiast with a love of sailing, wine lover and president of the Montecucco Consortium, he has brought decisiveness and farsightedness into his winemaking, attributes that have accompanied him in his successful entrepreneurship.
Out of your four Tuscan wineries, ColleMassari was the first and perhaps the most special because it was born out of love. How did it come into being?
The idea began in 1998, when the countryside was among the options to change my way of life. ColleMassari was suggested to me, in a DOC that had just been launched. The castle was rather rundown but it moved me emotionally, so I called my sister and my nephew and in the end we decided to “embrace the madness”. What began as fun became my job.
What are the advantages and the traits of this far end of the Maremma that make it suitable for producing fine wines?
The geographic location, midway between Morellino and Montalcino but with our Sangiovese that has gained the importance, depth and longevity of our neighbours, but with an additional dash of joy due to the vicinity to the sea. Excellent position also for the production of Vermentino.
ColleMassari is one of the biggest wineries in Europe in terms of surface area farmed organically. Is organic the right way to go?
We have 1,400 hectares, almost 17,000 olive trees, 125 hectares of vineyards, all farmed organically. Plus, we have pure state-owned woodland all round. So, this was the best place for organic.
What’s your winemaking ethos?
Simplicity. Trends come and go, but we stay true to tradition and we don’t regret it.
When do you love your job most?
I love being in the cellar and tasting the wines. But my favourite time of the year is the harvest.
Do you remember your first harvest?
Of course. It’s a memory associated with sailing and with when we won the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2003. I took some of the 10,000 bottles of ColleMassari down there - too many - from the 2000 vintage, which was the first true vintage. It was an unforgettable moment.