The People's Wine of Piedmont
Submitted by admin on 2 Jun 2015
As we head back to Piedmont for our June Jewels of Piedmont tour much of our attention will be focussed on the celebrated Barolo and Barbaresco wines of the area, made from the famous Nebbiolo grape. But the region has another native red grape,Barbera, (pronounced bar-bear-a!) which over many centuries has produced everyday drinking wines for the local population. The Monferrato zone is thought to be the birthplace of the Barbera grape, and records of it growing there date back as far back as the 13th century.
Today the hills around Alba and Monforte d'Alba are used for growing some particularly good Barbera, as are parts of the Astiprovince. It is an easy vine to grow with a relatively high yield. The wine has low tannins and high acidity, making the taste tart and fruity, with a deep almost blackberry colour.
Perhaps the first winemaker to show that Barbera could make a serious wine was Giacomo Bologna of the Braida estate in the early 1980s. His wine Bricco dell'Uccellone was internationally acclaimed, a success he achieved by reducing the yield and by ageing the wine in French oak barriques. Today many producers have followed his lead and there is now an amazing diversity of Barbera wines from Piedmont, which are continually improving and showing greater complexity and elegance.
Whilst native to this region, the Barbera grape has travelled further south on the Italian peninsula but also across continents and it is now being produced in South America, South Africa and Australia. Our great friends the Dal Zotto family in Victoria's King Valley make a Barbera which is perfect paired with game, braises and pasta dishes, and can be purchased on-line.
Some top Piemontese Barberas include Giacomo Bologna's Bricco dell'Uccellone as mentioned above, Elio Grasso's Vigna Martina, Coppo's Pomorosso, Bava's Stradivario and Vietti's Scarrone Vigna Vecchia. Anyone attending Milan's EXPO this year can sample the wines from the Braida estate on the first floor of the area dedicated to the Grandi Cru d'Italia. Happy tasting!