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.
The grapes are collected in mid-September and then set to dry on special reed mats locally called “graticci”. Between late December and early January, the juice in the grapes is reduced to a very sugary syrup that reaches 18– 19° bé (parameter that indicates the proportion between sugar and water level); at this stage the grapes are softly pressed and then concentrated liquid must is sealed together with the “madrea” (literally “mother”: natural yeasts produced through decades and always kept alive) in small oaks casks (1 or 2 hl) called “Caratelli” for at least three years. The Caratello is a small wooden container that has always been used in Vinsanto production as the place for all the biochemical transformations the must goes through in the extremely lengthy period it remains there. Afterwards the wine is separated from the “madre” and aged again in smaller oak kegs (0.65 hl), before being definitively bottled.
Amber yellow colour. On the nose it has a delicious and intensively aromatic bouquet with a broad suite of fragrances: raisins, dried and candied fruits, walnuts and a delicate hint of chestnut honey. It shows a finely balanced palate whose sweetness never cloys thanks to fresh acidity and vibrant, long-lingering aromas.