It's a hardy little grape, the Barbera. When Nebbiolo has a bad year; step forward Barbera. So much of it was planted in the Piedmont over the past 20 years that someones hard work and dedication to the grape would surely pay off. It did. Barbera wine, in my mind, is one of the best value wines we currently have in Italy. Most famously and expertly portrayed in Braida's wines, the Barbera grape is lovingly tended even by some of Piedmont's top producers like Roberto Voerzio (I must mention him each day!), Giacomo Conterno, Altare, La Spinetta and Scavino.
Once derided as a "rustic" wine, (though Rustic sounds nice to me it was meant as an insult!) it was thought too harsh and lacking finesse to ever be considered a fine wine. Thats changed in the last 10 years with some Parker and Wine Spectator scores pushing 95 and the producers bringing forward Barbera's fruity character and masking it's "rustic" one.
Personally I love Barbera, I love the flavours, I love the fruit but most of all I love the price tag. Consider Briada's fantastic Bricco dell'Uccellone, a 92 point wine on my scoreboard, can be found for under €30. That's good going compared to a Barolo or Brunello from a top producer.
The skinny on Barbera Wine
The Barbera grape covers a large area of the Piedmont and is planted in an area 3 times larger than Barolo & Barbaresco combined. The most famous of wines from the Barbera grapes are Barbera d'Asti and Barbera d'Alba. Barbera wine is very fruity and plummy but doesn't have great ageing capacity YET. I say YET because Barbera is a work in progress with many in the Piedmont firmly believing in its potential.
The most celebrated producer is Braida as they produce only Barbera wines at exceptional quality levels but the acclaimed "numero uno" bottle produced in the region is mostly agreed to be Voerzio's Barbera Ris Pozzo dell'Annunziata . Today I'm going to pull out two tasting notes on Barbera and give a consumers guide on where to buy Barbera.
Braida Barbera d'Asti Bricco dell'Uccellone 2001 - BUY
Deep and intense dark purple in the glass the Barbera has a pungent nose of berries, spices and licorice. A really fruity and enjoyable palate with excellent depth of flavour and a fine knockout finish. It's got that "you know you've been tango'd" element. Big wine. 92 Points.
R.Voerzio Barbera d'Alba Riserva Vigneto Pozzo dell'Annunziata 2000 - BUY
Drinking in 2007 the Barbera seems to be at its perfect age. Dark purple in the glass with grand aromas of blackberries,plums, licorice and coffee. Big wine on the palate, textured, balanced, thick & lustrous, velvety tannins in a full bodied masterpiece. Buy but only for drinking today and only for the experience as the wine sells for $400+ in magnum. 94 Points
Where can I buy this wine?
For value I am recommending the Briada wine and you can find it at the online stores below.
Europeans - N&M Weine - €29.75
Americans - Mount Carmel - $59.99
Brits - Lay and Wheeler - £32.00
Question of the Day?
Recommend a wine to me!