Barbera – Joining The Popular Crowd

I’ve been noticing an appealing trend on wine shelves lately – more and more Barbera. This lovely wine is easy to drink and easy to pair with food. Because it is so “quaffable,” Barbera is also a safe bet when selecting wine to take to a dinner party.

My admiration for Barbera began in 2007 when I moved to Italy for 3 years and became a big fan of the wine and food of Bella Italia. More recently, I visited friends who are grape growers in California and rekindled my fondness of Barbera as I tasted various styles throughout Amador and El Dorado Counties.

Barbera’s origins come from the Piedmont region in Italy and is the most widely planted grape of that region. Barbera, a high acid, low tannin grape was generally reduced to use as a “filler.” It wasn’t until the 1980’s, when Barbera was treated to barrel aging, that its virtues emerged, and it became a stand-alone wine. By barrel aging, tannins increase and the wine becomes fuller bodied. Barbera varies greatly but usually showcases red fruit (cherry, currant, raspberry) and can have nuances of chocolate, licorice, fig, dried herbs and tar.

The three Italian DOC’s (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) of Barbera are Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Alba and Barbera del Monferrato. The Barbera from Asti and Alba are probably the best known versions. Barbera is also widely grown in California, specifically booming in the Sierra Foothills region.

Keep a watchful eye on Barbera; it may soon be the “it girl” in the popular crowd.

Barbera to Try ~

Cooper Vineyards Barbera, Amador, County $29

Sobon Estate Barbera, Amador County, $15

Renato Ratti Barbera d’Asti, $18

Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, $20

Scarpetta Barbera del Monferrato, $22

Vietti Barbera d’Alba Tre Vigne, $26