Barbera, hailing from the fertile lands of Piedmont and noted since the 13th century, has evolved from an everyday wine to one of high quality thanks to the innovation of vintners. In the 20th century, it acquired an international reputation for its gastronomic versatility, contributing to the prestige of Italian wines worldwide. Characterized by a ruby color and vibrant aromas, Barbera adapts to different winemaking styles, proving versatile in culinary pairings. Its cultivation, mainly extended in Piedmont and Lombardy, requires specific care for optimal development due to its cold sensitivity.
Originating in Piedmont, Barbera is particularly celebrated in Monferrato and the provinces of Asti (Barbera d'Asti DOCG) and Alba (Barbera d'Alba DOC). Its presence has spread globally, finding favorable soils in countries like Argentina, California, and Uruguay.
Differences between Barbera d'Alba and Barbera d'Asti:
Barbera d'Asti: Recognized with its own DOC since 1970, Barbera d'Asti ranges from fresh stainless-steel versions to more complex ones aged in wood. It is known for its versatility, with a profile that spans from immediate freshness to mature complexity.
Barbera d'Alba: Grown in the hills around Alba on chalky soils, this wine has a profile rich in polyphenols and intense aromas. The DOC Barbera d'Alba, also established in 1970, can include up to 15% Nebbiolo grapes.Superiore Characteristics and Organoleptic Profile:
The 'Superiore' variety from both denominations requires a specific aging period and a particular grape composition, with Barbera d'Asti Superiore needing at least 14 months of aging (of which 6 in wood), and Barbera d'Alba Superiore requiring 12 months (with 4 in wood). Asti wines tend to be brighter, with notes of cherries and blackberries, while those from Alba are darker and fuller-bodied, with hints of violets and vanilla. The recently created Nizza denomination, made with 100% Barbera grapes from the Nizza subzone, requires a minimum of 18 months of aging (6 in wood), and for the Riserva, 30 months (12 in wood).
Production Process: Vinification and Aging:
The maturation of Barbera varies according to the desired type of wine: from three months in inert containers for younger wines to longer periods in wooden barrels for structured wines, with barriques imparting tannins and intense aromas. Aging in terracotta or ceramic amphorae is gaining popularity for its temperature control and lesser olfactory influence compared to wood. Concrete tanks, once popular and now back in fashion, offer minimal interference with the wine's organoleptic profile, preserving the authentic characteristics of the grape and terroir.
In our selection, we have chosen five exceptional examples of Barbera, each representing a different facet of this extraordinary grape variety. These wines not only embody the quality and tradition of Italian viticulture but also offer a sensory journey through the different styles and interpretations of Barbera.
The Barbera d'Asti by Roberto Sarotto is a light and refreshing red wine, featuring a fruity and soft style. Fermented in stainless steel, this Barbera highlights the freshness and typical acidity of the grape, making it extremely versatile for food pairings. With notes of raspberries and violets, it is ideal to accompany red meat dishes, cheeses, and Italian cuisine classics. A wine that charms with its elegance and balance, perfect for a romantic dinner or an evening with friends.
Barbera d'Asti Superiore 50 Vendemmie by Cantina di Nizza undergoes malolactic fermentation in a tank, followed by a 12-month rest in ceramic amphorae. This choice enhances the varietal aromas and fruit, thanks to the microporous structure of the amphorae that allows gaseous exchange, favoring aging while maintaining the freshness and aromatic integrity of the wine. Ideal with roasts and red meats, it is also perfect for moments of relaxation and contemplation.
Barbera d'Alba Superiore Castellinaldo by Cravanzola is produced exclusively with Barbera grapes from the Castellinaldo subzone. This wine is refined in French oak tonneaux, enhancing its organoleptic characteristics. On the nose, it presents intense notes of ripe red fruits, spices, and a touch of oak, while on the palate, it has a vigorous structure balanced by fresh acidity. Perfect paired with red meat dishes and aged cheeses, it is ideal for special occasions where a memorable wine is desired.
Barbera d'Alba Elena DOC by Roberto Sarotto, made from forty-year-old vines, is a tribute to the Italian winemaking art. Characterized by an intense ruby color with violet reflections, it offers aromas of dark cherries, strawberries, ripe blackberries, red plums, and vanilla. On the palate, it is distinguished by its velvety tannins and a perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. Aged for 14 months in American barriques, this process gives the wine a notable concentration, further enriching its complexity. Ideal with rich dishes, it is perfect for special dinners.
Nizza DOCG Ceppi Vecchi by Cantina di Nizza, obtained from old vines, stands out for its garnet red color and an aromatic profile of ripe fruit, licorice, and vanilla. Fermentation takes place in steel with temperature control, followed by a 12-month refinement in French oak. Elegant on the nose with notes of violet and red fruits, it has a structured palate, harmonious and soft tannins, with a persistent finish. Ideal for meditation and pairing with substantial red meat dishes or structured cheeses.