Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More Classic Italian Grapes: Barbera

Juicy Barbera originated in the Monferrato Hills, in central Piedmont. It yields a crisp, light to medium bodied wine with fresh fruit flavors and low tannins.
This grape is the second most important of the Piedmont (after Nebbiolo) usually competing with it for the best vineyard locations. Yet, Barbera is treasured in the Piedmont, for a) ripening two weeks earlier than Nebbiolo, and b) for yielding wines that can be sold earlier while Nebbiolo is aging/ maturing.

Barbera can be very vigorous, requiring pruning to keep yields low and therefore quality, it favors calcareous soils or clay loams. In the Piedmont, there are three well known styles: Barbera d’ Asti, Barbera d’ Alba and Barbera del MonferratoBarbera d’ Alba is complex and elegant, featuring floral (violets) and velvety textures.  Barbera d’ Asti is rich, intense and more masculine. Barbera del Monferrato (the smaller area of all) is also powerful and at times a bit rustic. Better yet are the wines from DOCG Nizza, formerly a subzone in Asti, it has its own appellation since 2014. These are superb wines made from 100% Barbera.

As it happens with Nebbiolo, there are producers that tend to make rounder/ bigger styles by allowing Barbera to hang some extra time in the vineyards and by aging in small oak barriques that will give the wines a lot of spiciness. While others prefer to make the everyday Barbera that is drunk all over Italy, lighter in style, featuring juicy acidity. Because of its high acidity, Barbera is a great match for foods, including pizza, veal and pasta, and will do well in warm climates too. Some successful plantings can be found in Argentina, California and Australia.

Drink Barbera within 8 years from its vintage. Though some samples can age for longer, most will lose its vibrancy after this time. Barbera’s typical flavor profile features tart cherry, blackberry, strawberry, plum licorice, dried herbs and black pepper.

Recommended Producers: 
G.B Burlotto, Michele Chiarlo, Conterno, Vietti, Rinaldi, Scavino, Mascarello, Massolino, Marziano Abbona, Ca'Viola, Cordero di Montezemolo, Marchesi di Barolo, etc.

Wines I tasted lately that I liked:
Ca' Viola Barbera D' Alba Brichet 2017, $18
Cordero Di Montezemolo Barbera D' Alba 2018,$25
Massolino Barbera D' Alba 2018,$27
Vietti Barbera D' Asti La Crena 2017,$40

Ciao! Silvina

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