“There is a growing camp of fine wine enthusiasts,” wrote Marvin Shanken in 1983 in one of the earliest editions of Wine Spectator, “who view Brunello di Montalcino as the finest wine Italy has to offer. In fact, there are even some who believe it to be the finest wine in the world. For Francesca Cinelli Colombini, owner of Fattoria dei Barbi, one of the few great producers of Brunello, complete satisfaction has yet to be achieved.”
Wow! Incredible, right?
Incredible because at the time, no one could imagine what was to happen in Montalcino in the 1980s and 90s, nor could anyone conceive that Shanken and his Wine Spectator would become the powerhouses of wine media that they ultimately became.
It’s also incredible to read this piece (see below; click image for the complete article) because Shanken only cites three — yes, 3! — Brunello producers as the “greats” of the appellation.
Ms. Francesca and Barbi were one of them.
“For Italian wines, we have to improve the top level of our wines to reach the top level of French wines,” said Ms. Cinelli Colombini as quoted by Shanken, ” but in the future we will surpass French wines.”
Click the image below for a high-resolution scan of the article.
“In the decade of the 1980s,” wrote Shanken in the conclusion to the piece, “keep your eye on the backlands of Montalcino and future role of Brunello.”
Special thanks to friend of Barbi, Alfonso Cevola, for sharing this article and scan from his archives. Who knew that all those old editions of Wine Spectator would come in handy? Thanks, Ace!</em.