Fattoria dei Barbi: Authentic Wines from Passionate People
Often times in the wine industry, we will often hear talk about terroir, in other words the sense of place through taste. This can be sometimes hard to wrap our head around, but once a trained and sophisticated palate grasps this statement, there is no turning back.
Frattoria de Barbi is one such producer in Montalcino whose wines ooze with character, finesse, and indeed a sense of place.
The Colombini family has been making wine in since the 1800’s, and today has over 306 hectares of property in Montalcino and Scansano. The current annual production is about 800,000 bottles; 200,000 of which include Brunello. Their goal is to make wines that reflect and express the true character of the land and grapes, using today’s technology to stay true to the wines they have always made since the 19th century. I am in love with the wines of Frattoria dei Barbi because they represent purity and elegance with a slight rustic edge, having complexity and great maturity.
In Tuscany, people used to take part in something called shared cropping. Many land owners shared the income of the goods they sold with the workers of the land. These people were more than peasants; they were part of the agricultural business relationship. After the Second World War however, there was not enough work. Families that had owned vineyards decided to sell and move to the cities. Giovanni Colombini decided to stay. He changed the system and he decided to give up his law work and concentrate on wine making. One of his many tasks was to create a BRUSCO, a very approachable wine, keeping a strong Tuscan character. *See tasting note below.
The daughter of Giovanni, Francesca Colombini, was raised by her father to be the only woman to own the vineyard and be its heir. It was not easy for her to do this, as she was constantly working.
During this time, she decided to create a quality Brunello with a feminine touch. They selected a special vineyard, where the river Fiore runs around the parcel of land.*See tasting note below.
She ran the business until 2000 when she gave management to her son Stefano, who is now taking the reigns in making incredible wines from Fattoria dei Barbi.
It is easy to get romantic about wine when we hear the personal stories of how producers became established through its history and hardship, but this is a very important aspect to wine that should never be left out.
For me, this is an added element of appreciation and connection for what is in the glass. Just imagine – complete strangers whose job it is create something that is so personal for them, only to then share it to the rest of world, in hopes that others love and appreciate it as much as they do!
It’s also very easy to get technical, as we (consumers and professionals alike) wonder about percentage of blends, oak aging or what soil the wine grapes come from. However, does this really matter? Of course, these are very important factors which lead a wine to be structured and well made, but so long as we can taste and enjoy what we are drinking, there’s nothing more important.
When tasting through the wines of dei Barbi, I could not help but be transported to their estate. It was Fiore in my glass! I could see the river that around the plot, I tasted the earth, the fruit. More importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the wines. It gave me so much pleasure to taste through their range and vintages. I am a fan for life.
My personal favourite and highly recommended wines:
Brusco dei Barbi 2016 ♥
Arriving September 2018 – Private Import
Intense and elegant flavours of ripe red cherry and strawberries with a streak of Mediterranean herbs and slight spice. It has medium grained, chewy tannins and a great acidity. Persistent length where the fruit goes on for days. I could drink buckets of this. Excellent wine to go with your Friday night pizza.
Drink now or in the next 2-3 years.
Rosso di Montalcino 2016 ♥
SAQ: 13668552 $24.95
Medium bodied wine with ripe and crunchy red fruit like cherries, strawberries, and plum mixed in with sweet spice. Bits of savoury notes too matched with a vibrant acidity and grippy tannins. The slight balsamic finish is full and extremely satisfying leaving a lasting impression of fruit. Great quality for price. Drink now or in the next 4-5 years.
Brunello di Montalcino 2012♥
SAQ: 11213343 $48.60
Bold cherries, plum, sweet spice, underbrush. Inviting and intesnse flavours that wrap around your palate and dance as they go from fruit to to spice to delicate vanilla, all in perfect balance with a mouth watering acidity and elegant fine grained tannins. The length is long and supple. Beautiful maturity and flawless structure. You could drink this now, but your patience will be rewarded in another 12-13 years.
Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Fiore 2011
SAQ: 10217300 $79.75
Coming from a very unique vineyard, this deliciously appealing Sangiovese gives generous and concentrated notes of sweet spice, ripe red cherries and blackberries. It has a certain richness, subtle vanilla oak while maintaining a very fresh acidity and nibsy tannin. What an incredibly beautiful wine.
Drink now or in the next 8- 10 years.
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006
Some teritary notes here on top of the concentrated cherry and blackberry fruit. Earth, balsamic, with an herbal edge play off the concentrated fruit which is balanced by a lively acidity. It has great length that will continue to develop in the years to come. A very elegant and classy wine with lots of depth. Drink now or in the next 8-10 years.
I am incredibly fortunate to taste some of the best cuisine Montreal has to offer when attending tastings, and the meal at Beatrice Restaurant was spectacular. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is visiting the city. They have an extensive wine list, as well as lunch specials. The staff was very gracious and made the tasting even more pleasurable.
Check them out: