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BEVERAGE MEDIA
May 2013
P
iedmont is definitely red wine
country. Barolo and Barbares-
co, made from Nebbiolo, stand
among the world’s most prized
collectible wines. However, they are ex-
pensive (the better ones retail for $75 and
up, and over $200 for Bruno Giacosa’s
Barolos); and they need 12 to 15 years to
peak, while mediocre vintages can be too
thin or too tannic. These caveats provide
all the more reason to turn attention to
Barbera and Dolcetto, the most popular
everyday red wines for the Piedmontese.
A notch down from “great,” these two
wines are still the good stuff—eminently
drinkable when young, plus less expensive
and readily available.
Barbera (the name of the wine and
the grape variety) is first and foremost
quite easy to like. Although dry, it has
flavors reminiscent of berries, cherries
and spices. It is dark in color, with lots of
lively acidity, but practically no tannin.
In this respect, it can resemble a white
wine. And like a good white wine, Bar-
bera is crisp, refreshing and clean on the
palate. Another great aspect of Barbera:
it goes amazingly well with foods many
Americans love, especially pizza, pasta
and hamburgers.
Barbera is made in many parts of Italy
(it’s the third-most planted red variety in
Italy, after Sangiovese and Montepul-
ciano), but it’s definitely at its best in its
native Piedmont. There are two general
styles of Barbera from Piedmont: the tra-
ditional fresh, unoaked version (or with
a little time in previously used barrels);
and the versions that are aged at least
partially in new oak barriques.
Most of the traditional Barberas re-
tail in the $12-$20 range; those aged in
new barriques are in the $25-$45 range.
Generally, I lean toward the traditional
style; new oak can mask the pure, lively
fruit flavors of Barbera. However, I must
say that some new oak-aged Barberas,
such as Vietti’s Barbera d’Asti La Crena
and Barbera d’Alba Scarrone, are out-
standing—and can age for a decade.
Barbera in Piedmont comes from
three zones: Barbera d’Alba, Barbera
d’Asti and Barbera del Monferrato. (Al-
most every producer who makes Barolo
and most who make Barbaresco also
produce a Barbera.) Barbera d’Alba is
the most commonly found in the U.S.
and, generally, has the fullest body of the
three—although all Barberas are in the
medium-bodied range. Barbera d’Asti is
usually leaner and lighter-bodied, with
more acidity. (Barbera acreage actually
tops Nebbiolo in Asti.) Monferrato is
believed to be the original home of the
Barbera variety; many Barbera del Mon-
ferrato wines are made in the traditional,
unoaked style, and are reasonably priced.
They tend to be closer in style to Barbera
d’Asti than to Barbera d’Alba..
Some recommended Barberas:
$12-$20 SRP
n
Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne
n
Iuli Barbera del Monferrato
n
Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti
n
Trinchero Barbera d’Asti
n
Marcarini Barbera d’Alba
n
Marchesi di Barolo Barbera
del Monferrato
n
Cantine Valpane Barbera
del Monferrato
n
Accornero Barbera del Monferrato
TASTING
CORNER
Barbera & Dolcetto
Piedmont’s Everyday Reds are Better
(and More Vital) Than Ever
BY ED McCARTHY
The hilltop village of Castiglione
Falletto is home to the Currado family,
producer of Vietti wines, including
their famed Scarrone vineyard.
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