Barbera – Belle of the Ball

Barbera, one of the most planted red grape varieties in Italy was the theme for yesterday’s tasting at Dante. Vinchio Vaglio’s 2007 Kroara was first.  A great everyday drinking wine, it was fermented in stainless steel without cask aging. This is your basic Barbera with the Piedmont appellation signifying that the grapes came from various growers throughout the region.  Light ruby in color bright red cherries dominated the aromas. Since Barbera is a grape characterized by low tannins but high acidity, it is appealing to many with its often smooth, soft mouthfeel and ability to match well with food.

We moved on to Stefano Farina’s 2008  Barbera d’Alba  DOC. The grapes sourced from this wine were grown on the slopes of Alba close to the Tanaro River.  Stefano Sr. started the winery in the 30’s in Langhe and the facility has been modernized to include a gravity-driven cap collapsing fermentation tank which aids in avoiding bitter tannins. The winemaker’s objective was to preserve the fresh fruit flavors in this wine and hence, refrained from cask aging. Sightly more intense in its purple/ruby hue than its predecessor, dark-skinned berry fruit characterized the aromas and the acidity was pronounced which was a detracting element for a few, but paired with some prosciutto became amicable.

With Vietti’s 2007 Barbera d’Asti, Tre Vigne we began to see the terroir expressed, in part, to the calcerous and clay loam soils. Again, the appearance of this Barbera had a purple/ruby hue, but deeper in color.  Having gone through malolactic fermentation a soft, round mouthfeel made for a velvety mid-palate. This was coupled with aromas of creamy cherry, red raspberry and vanilla arising from the twelve months of oak aging in French and Slavonian barrels. Though the oak was evident, all agreed that this was a wonderfully balanced wine which was, incidentally, unfiltered.

Finally, for the piece de resistance we returned to Vinchio-Vaglio Serra and tasted their 2006 Sei Vigne Insynthesis,  comprising a blend of grapes from six different vineyards, hence “Six Vineyard Synthesis”. This wine produced much discussion because of the complexity of aromas and flavors:  blackberry, cassis, licorice, tobacco, leather.  Aging in small French casks made its mark with the pervasive spiciness evident on both the nose and palate.  A wine of great structure, balance with a long, lingering velvety finish.  Also, winner of Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri, the highest honor a wine can receive in Italy.

Our next tasting at Dante will be Sunday, February 13th at 3:30pm when we’ll be tasting Sangiovese-based reds!

Until then, Cheers!


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