Many wine families boast a colourful history, but few in the world can match the Colombini clan, owners of great Montalcino estate Fattoria dei Barbi, one of our original wine agencies. The family history goes back to the year 1000, the distinctive coat of arms (four doves separated by a cross against a blue field) was designed in about 1200, and their presence in Montalcino dates to 1352. It's a compelling saga with a cast of characters including a mediocre early Renaissance poet (Tommaso), a fugitive who blinded the Governor of Montalcino in a fight (Stefano), and a notorious womaniser who was beatified after giving all his wealth to the Church and becoming a monk (Giovanni).
The family tradition of winemaking in Montalcino has been, thankfully, less of a rollercoaster ride: initiated by Pio Colombini in the 19th century, it was taken on by Pio's son, Giovanni, amid a whirlwind of 20th century innovation: Montalcino's original wine shop (the first in Italy) was his idea, and he was the first to sell Tuscan wines by mail order, and to export to France, the US, the UK and Japan.
The term Super Tuscan' was coined to describe the winery's Brusco dei Barbi in 1969, and the family's combined land holdings in Montalcino and Scansano continue to produce a stunning range of wines, from Brusco through a supple Morellino di Scansano (with 15% Merlot to add fragrance and roundness) to its redoubtable Brunellos. Add in a dairy and butchery producing a mouth-watering range of meats, sausage and cheeses, not to mention olive oil and honey, and Fattoria dei Barbi offers just about everything that a bon viveur could wish for.
The Colombini Family has been producing Vinsanto since the beginning; in fact the farm preserves a collection which is most probably the largest in the world. From the 1870's to today, the Vinsanto tradition is kept alive with a couple of thousand bottles a year.
Once picked the bunches of grape are hung on hooks and let dry until December when they reach 18°-19° Baume (measure indicating the high level of sugar and low level of water). After a soft pressing the juice is left in small oak kegs together with the "mother" (residual yeast from previous Vin Santo productions). The wine slowly ferments and matures acquiring characteristic aromas.
Rounded yet delicate dessert wine from Tuscany, made to drench the sweet, nutty, dunkable biscuits called cantucci, this is filled with raisins and nuts and wonderfully aromatic.