This wine is produced by the Colombini family, a name which dates back to the first century A.D. Throughout the years, this family has seen its fortunes rise and fall as they went from bankers to church monarchs, some beatified, to virtual gangsters and outcasts and back to respected political figures. With contacts in the Medici Family, a dominant force in Florence, this family was based in Siena, and was mostly known between there and Marseilles. As time moved on the family became noted as sailors and jurists, poets and other literates, as well as hedonism and womanizers. In the nineteenth century, Pio Colombini, prominent in the field of medical science discovered a cure for syphilis. Despite his medical reputation, he considered himself a landowner and began producing the first bottles of Brunello. Together with his wife Elina Padelletti from Montalcino they took over the villa of Podernovi, which today houses their cellars. It wasn’t until 1936 when their son Giovanni opened the first public wine shop in the Fortress of Montalcino. After his death the winery was managed by their daughter Francesca and nephew Stefano. The history of this family is a fascinating read not only for its longevity, but even more so for its wide diversity.
This wine is derived from the same grape, Sangiovese, cultivated in Montalcino but from younger vines and grapes so it shares the same look, elegance and aroma as its sister Brunello, although not fully in the same class. Before fermentation the grapes are put through a rigorous process involving a cold maceration to increase color stability and aroma. Alcoholic fermentation lasts for 12 to 13 days before final fermentation for six months in small oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. This produces a vintage of slightly above 14% alcohol with a ruby red color, with aromatic hints of dark cherries, pomegranate and possibly some raspberry. Its flavor begins with this aroma, is very soft but long lasting on the palate with velvety tannins and an almost curious aftertaste which calls for another sip. And make no mistake, this is a wine meant to be sipped and savored. Give it some time on the palate before the next taste to ensure maximum pleasure and the full experience. One can almost taste history here.
Pairings for this wine are pretty varied. We had it with grilled filet mignon to celebrate my wife’s, never mind the number, birthday, with a simple salad. The meat, which I have to say was grilled perfectly, had its flavor greatly enhanced by the strong essences of the wine. While I don’t usually decant often, I did allow this to aerate for a little better than two hours. I think this benefitted it greatly. But even though it is a Sangiovese which usually calls for a hearty dish, I can also see this paired with maybe turkey or pheasant, or something a little lighter than what other reds call for. Also, try it with some cheeses such as pecorino Romano or a ricotta salata.
I did spend more than usual for this wine, expect to pay around $30-35 for it. But I bought it with the idea of a special occasion or holiday dining in mind. It did not disappoint and even at this price which again is outside my normal range, I found it to be versatile and well worth the price.
Wine Spectator has given this vintage, 2016, a solid 90 points, saying it reveals “depth and complexity.” Vinous author Antonio Galloni wrote that it shows nuance and character while giving it 91 points. As I stated above, this wine exudes history and has a story behind it that bears this out. On my own personal scale, I give this wine a rating of 9.75 out of an unattainable 10 for flavor, aroma and drinkability. Above all, this wine is one of which the ancients could be very proud, and that is the highest praise of all.