barbera

The beautiful Princess

If Nebbiolo is the King of Piedmont, then Barbera sure must be his beautiful daughter. Popular because more and more people like it and female for the "seductive fruitiness”, but also because of its sometimes animated acidity. Indeed, high acidity is what this grape is known for, it’s often blended with other grapes that lack acidity (eg. Nebiollo).

The Barbera grape is also popular in other warm regions, such as Central Valley in California and Argentina, but is originally from Piedmont, especially from the Monferrato region, which is still the core area. While farmers planted it earlier especially for its large production volumes (which also often produced little characterful wines, which is why sometimes they were called the 'Merlot' of Piedmont), nowadays it’s more likely they choose for a small harvest and newer vinification methods.

So more and more Barbera’s are getting complex wines with a rich bouquet of aromas. That’s because lots of acidity and low tannins provide the winemakers a nice framework to create great wines in. For example, a barrique ageing can complement the low tannines. This occurs mainly in Monferrato and Asti (where Barbera Monferrato and Barbera d'Asti Superiore have a DOCG status) and Alba (Barbera d'Alba). 

Aromas: what kind of things can you smell in a wine made with Barbera grapes?

  • dark fruit, blueberries 
  • plums 
  • herbs 

Pairing: what kind of food combines well with a wine made with Barbera grapes?

  • antipasti 
  • white and red meat 
  • risotto with cheese 

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbera

Wineries that focus on barbera: