Thursday, 12 April 2018

Fattoria dei Barbi: Authentic Wines from Passionate People

Fattoria dei Barbi

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
Private Import

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. 

A very special thanks to Mark Anthony Wine and Spirits and Raffaella Guidi Federzoni, export manager for Fattoria dei Barbi,  for this exceptional tasting.  

 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:


Sunday, 11 March 2018

A Closer Look at Rioja and the Wines from Bodega Faustino

 With 150 years in their back pocket, Bodega Faustino has grown into a fine producer, making some attractive wines coming out of the Rioja.  Easily recognized by their frosted bottles and portraits of Rembrant and composer Gluck, it is the wine inside the bottle that leaves a lasting impression:  lush, rich, and attractive, these wines are the essence of what the Tempranillo grape can offer.  Their portfolio also includes a Cava, as well as white wines and rosé.     

Rioja is located in the northeastern part of Spain  near the Sierra Cantabria mountain range, which helps stop the rain,  leaving Rioja a fairly dry place.  There are 3 sections to Rijoa: Baja, Alta and Alavesa.  All produce beautiful red wines from Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Mauzleo.   White wines are made using grapes such as Viura, Verdejo, and Chardonnay for example. 

Rioja has special classifications that indicate how much time the wine has spent aging on oak
(if any), and they go as follows:
 Photo: Cellar Tours 

Aged with very little, if any oak, for 1 or 2 years.

Aged for 2 years: at least 1 year on oak and 1 year in the bottle

Aged for 3 years: at least 1 year on oak, and 2 years in the bottle

Aged for 5 years: at least 2 years on oak, 3 years in the bottle.

The wines coming from Rioja will only be released on the market when this aging period is complete.  That’s quite a bit of tied of capital, when you think about it.

Bodegas Faustino has wines coming from all 3 classifications, and lucky for us the Reserva and Gran Reserva is available at SAQ  stores, along with a few more of their wines through private import via Select Wines.

The wines listed below are great for anyone who loves full bodied reds with lots of flavourful fruit, with round tannins and lots of depth.  Many are ready to drink once they hit the market, but it does not mean they are not meant to cellar.  The following wines are a few of my personal favourites.  

Faustino Reserva 2012  SAQ: 10857497  $18.45

Ripe cherries, blackberries and bits of red liquorice make for intriguing and concentrated flavour. A mouthwatering, juicy acidity flows with the supple fruit and dark chocolate that linger into the dry and full finish.  Drink now or in the next 4-6 years. 

                                Faustino Gran Reserva 2005  SAQ: 10483026  $28.45

An elegant and silky wine with concentrated cherry, blackberry and strawberry fruit. The palate is round and plump, without it being too heavy.  The fruit is harmoniously balanced with dark chocolate, vanilla and coffee grain.  The refined tannins add a bit of texture, as does the refreshing acidity, making this wine so very drinkable.  The flavours dance on the palate, long after the sip is gone. Excellent quality.  Drink now or in on the next 6-8 years.

Faustino Gran Reserva 1994  SAQ : 11427325  $61.75

Notes of cherries, cranberries, and raisin dominate as it evolves into more earth, espresso and fig.  Great acidity with soft and supple tannins.  Rich notes of leather and balsamic show on the complex and persistent finish.  Drink now.  



Bodega Faustino - Vins de l'Espagne de Rioja

Avec 150 ans d'experience, Bodega Faustino est devenu un bon producteur, ce qui rend les vins de la Rioja très attrayants. Facilement reconnaissables grâce à leurs bouteilles givrées et aux portraits de Rembrant et du compositeur Gluck; c'est tout de meme le vin à l'intérieur de la bouteille qui laisse une impression durable: luxuriante, riche et séduisante, ces vins sont l'essence de ce que le cépage Tempranillo peut offrir. Leur portefeuille comprend également un Cava, ainsi que des vins blancs et rosés.

La Rioja est située dans la partie nord-est de l'Espagne et près de la chaîne de montagnes de la Sierra Cantabria, ce qui aide à arrêter la pluie, laissant la région de Rioja dans un endroit relativement sec. Il y a 3 sections à Rijoa: Baja, Alta et Alavesa. Tous produisent de beaux vins rouges de Tempranillo, Garnacha et Mauzleo. Les vins blancs sont élaborés à partir de raisins tels que le Viura, le Verdejo et le Chardonnay par exemple.

Rioja a des classifications spéciales qui indiquent combien de temps le vin est vieilli dans vieillissement sur le chêne
(le cas échéant), et ils vont comme suit:

Vieilli avec très peu, voire aucun chêne, pendant 1 ou 2 ans.

Vieilli pendant 2 ans: au moins 1 an sur le chêne et 1 an dans la bouteille

Vieilli pendant 3 ans: au moins 1 an sur le chêne et 2 ans dans la bouteille

Vieilli pendant 5 ans: au moins 2 ans sur le chêne, 3 ans dans la bouteille.

Les vins provenant de Rioja ne seront commercialisés que lorsque cette période de vieillissement sera terminée. C'est un peu lié au capital, quand on y pense.

Bodegas Faustino a des vins provenant des trois classes, et nous avons de la chance, la Reserva et la Gran Reserva sont disponibles dans les magasins SAQ, ainsi que quelques autres de leurs vins en importation privée via Select Wines.

Les vins énumérés ci-dessous sont parfaits pour tous ceux qui aiment les rouges corsés avec beaucoup de fruits savoureux, avec des tanins ronds et beaucoup de profondeur. Beaucoup sont prêts à boire une fois qu'ils sont sur le marché, mais cela ne signifie pas qu'ils ne sont pas destinés à la cave. Les vins suivants sont quelques-uns de mes favoris personnels.

 Faustino Reserva 2012 SAQ: 10857497 18,45 $

Les cerises mûres, les mûres et les morceaux de réglisse rouge créent une saveur intrigante et concentrée. Une acidité juteuse et juteuse coule avec le fruit et le chocolat noir qui persistent dans la finale sèche et pleine. Boire maintenant ou dans les 4-6 prochaines années.

Faustino Gran Reserva 2005 SAQ: 10483026 28,45 $

Un vin élégant et soyeux avec des notes concentrées de cerise, de mûre et de fraise. La bouche est ronde et charnue, sans être trop lourde. Le fruit est harmonieusement équilibré avec le chocolat noir, la vanille et le grain de café. Les tanins raffinés ajoutent un peu de texture, tout comme l'acidité rafraîchissante, ce qui rend ce vin très potable. Les saveurs dansent sur le palais, longtemps après que la gorgée soit partie. Excellente qualité. Boire maintenant ou dans les 6-8 prochaines années.

Faustino Gran Reserva 1994 SAQ: 11427325 61,75 $

Les notes de cerises, de canneberges et de raisins dominent à mesure qu'elles évoluent vers plus de terre, d'espresso et de figue. Grande acidité avec des tanins souples et souples. De riches notes de cuir et de balsamique ressortent sur la finale complexe et persistante. Boire maintenant.