Have You Ever Heard of an Italian Wine Grape Called Colombana?

Considered to be a very ancient grape, Colombana Bianca is a white grape from Tuscany, also known by the names “Colombana Peccioli and Verdea.”  Legend states it was brought to Italy by an Irish missionary called St. Columban. He travelled throughout Europe, and gathered many followers who brought vine cuttings to northern Italy. They planted the vine and began to make wine near the towns of Pisa and Milan, but over the centuries the Colombana vines were replaced by other varieties, so it became very rare and was thought to have nearly disappeared.

Slopes of Fattoria Fibbiano. Credit: Fattoria Fibbiano.

Rediscovery of Lost Colombana Vines in Vineyard

Recently the Cantoni family, who own Fattoria Fibbiano Winery south of Pisa, Italy, rediscovered some lost Colombana grape vines growing in their vineyard. Upon analysis, they realized they were identical to those cultivated in Lombardy, Italy, under the name of the Verdea grape. They were excited by this discovery, because in the past, wine made from the Colombana grape in that region was known for its therapeutic properties.

The vines among Fattoria Fibbiano. Credit: Fattoria Fibbiano.

What Does Colombana Taste Like?

Because the grape is so rare, Fattoria Fibbiano decided to craft a new wine made with 100% Colombana grapes. The wine has a brilliant straw yellow color, with rich notes of exotic fruits, such as banana, pineapple, and papaya, with a nose of pressed flowers. It has a notable tanginess from marine soils, with rich acidity that makes it refreshing and deliciously easy to drink.

Colombana wine by Fattoria Fibbiano.

Crafting Colombana Wine

This 100% Colombana wine is produced with cold maceration on the skins at 50 degrees Fahrenheit in stainless steel tanks for 5 days, after which skins are pressed and the must obtained is fermented at a controlled temperature of 54F without using selected yeasts, bringing greater character to preserve authentic qualities of this variety of noble origins. After fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred into concrete tanks, where it rests for 4 months before bottling.

Where to Purchase Fattoria Fibbiano Colombana

Due to the rarity of the Colombana grape, Fattoria Fibbiano winery, was only able to produce only 3,000 bottles of wine. It was released in June 2020, and will be available in select wine shops in the US in the near future.

Why Italians Link Wine to Food — and Recipe for Florentine Beefsteak

The_Taste_of_Tuscany_Guided_Wine_Tasting_Dinner_with_Tuscany_Superior_White_Wines_Chianti_Classico_and_D.O.P._Typical_ProductsThis January we are taking 26 Wine MBA and Wine Bachelors candidates to Tuscany for 2 weeks as part of a Winter Intersession class on global wine business.  Most participants currently work in the California wine industry, and are excited to learn more about the Italian wine scene.  We will be visiting wineries in Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Montepulciano and Bolgheri, and staying in both Florence and Siena.  For more information on the tour schedule, see: http://tuscanwinemusings.wordpress.com/

One of the interesting facts about Italian wine is its linkage to food. In fact, in Italy, the experience of drinking wine is not complete without food that is produced in the same region as the wine.  The Italians even have a phrase for this concept.  It is “L’Ambiente Del Vino,” which means the culture or habitat of wine.  In Italy, wine does not stand alone; it is part of the soil, the people who create it, the food, and the very culture of the place.

Speciality Foods of Tuscany

In Tuscany, there are many different grape varietals, but the top three are sangiovese, trebbiano, and vernaccia.  Some of the specialty foods produced in Tuscany and designed to go with wines made from these grapes include:  bistecca alla fiorentina, fagioli (white beans), pecorino toscano (cheese made from sheep’s milk), and a variety of game meats, including duck, rabbit, wild boar, and partridge.

Recipe for Bistecca alla Fiorentina

bistecca_alla_fiorentina_ristorante_la_maremma_firenze_thumb1_big (1)A few years ago a wine professor from Tuscany gave me the following recipe for Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Grilled Steak Florentine Style.  When he first described it to me, I couldn’t believe how simple it sounded, and was skeptical about how it would turn out.  In fact, when I told my husband – the grill master – about the recipe, he said it would never work because it didn’t require any type of rub for the meat.  However, when we tried it, we were amazed at how magnificent this steak can be.

Ingredients

  • High quality T-bone or Porterhouse steaks (at least 1 inch thick)*
  • Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

Instructions

Rinse steak in water and let sit on counter a while so that it reaches room temperature (at least 30 minutes).  Heat up BBQ grill to around 400.  Place steaks on grill (do not add any rubs, marinade, etc.).  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side.  While steak is cooking, pour generous amount of olive oil on a plate and grind sea salt on top of oil.  When steak is done, immediately transfer to plate and let it sit in oil/salt mixture for about 10 seconds before flipping to other side and letting it sit for another 10 seconds, then serve on clean plate.  Eat immediately and enjoy with large glass of sangiovese from Tuscany.

*It should be mentioned that in Tuscany, they have a special breed of white cows called Chianina beef.  This special type of beef provides the flavor and tenderness that make this recipe more successful.