I eagerly awaited the unveiling of the next wine in our alphabetical challenge, suspecting it may be one from Italy. There are so many beautiful ones that start with “B.” Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, and, yes, Barbera! Ah, Barbera. It is such a great food-friendly wine, and it is easy on the wallet, too!
Barbera is grown in the cool climate of Piedmont in northwestern Italy. Piedmont, which means “foot of the mountains,” has steep terrain and an alpine climate. In cooler climates like Piedmont, the grapes don’t ripen as quickly, resulting in lower natural sugars and higher acidity. This acid is what makes Barbera a great dinner wine. Acid cuts through richness in food like a knife and acts as a palate cleanser, which creates a nice balance.
While other Piedmontese wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco, have been the golden children of Piedmont, Barbera has been a bit like the unruly, yet high-potential underdog, fighting for attention. However, its earlier reputation as a go-to wine for quantity versus quality has changed for the better over the last several decades as more producers have reduced yields in favor of making a better wine.
What’s great about Barbera is that you don’t need to age it. It’s actually quite nice when it’s young. So, there’s no shame in buying and opening on the same day!
The Barbera Rob and Kelly chose is from a family-run estate, Giacomo & Giaconda Scagliola. It had some serious star power. It packed a punch, with beautiful notes of dark, juicy plum laced with a hint of violet. While the nose made me think the wine would have a much bigger mouthfeel, it was lean and well structured, delivering just the right amount of dark fruit and finishing with an electric zing, courtesy of that bright acidity.
We paired it with a fall inspired pasta dish, shells stuffed with a rich pumpkin filling, floating on a robust tomato-based sauce with lots of crumbled, spicy Italian sausage. Try any meaty pasta dish or, if you are vegetarian, a mushroom risotto would be splendid.
This bottle retails for about $20, which makes it a great value for the quality. We are ready to stock up on this one!