The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2010

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ITALY Barberasat the Gate IN SEARCH OF THE DEFINITIVE BARBERA FROM PIEDMONT by Stuart George Tasting Notes Barbera d’Asti La Casaccia 2008 Barbera d’Asti rom March 8–11, the Barbera Meeting 2010 was held at Asti. The four-day event showcased wines from the Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato and Barbera d’Alba production zones to an international audience of journalists, bloggers, sommeliers and buyers. Over 180 wines were tasted blind, plus many more during visits to local cellars. Although overshadowed by the more glamorous Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, Barbera is the second most widely planted red variety in Italy and accounts for half of all vineyards in Piedmont. There are four ways of aging Barbera: in steel tanks, in barrique, in botte (large wooden casks) or in a mix of steel and wood. Aging in bottle can then follow any of these. Botte is the “traditional” method and often gives good results, though many wines of this style tasted at the Barbera Meeting lacked freshness. The tank-only ver- sions showcase Barbera’s juicy fruit but lack the structure of wines that have been buttressed by wood aging. So diverse were the colors, aromas and textures of the wines at the Meeting that it stretched credence to credit them all as Barbera. This makes finding a definitive version of Barbera almost impossible. Too many of the wines were unacceptably oaky, tannic, acidic or plain faulty. But the best wines gave much pleasure and several (importers take note!) are not yet avail- able in the U.S. market. F 56 / the tasting panel / july 2010 Vigna Sant’Anna Viscous ruby purple, as bright as an Asti morn- ing. Crisp and refreshing acidity, with fruity tannins. A fun wine. OLIVER MCCRUM WINES/SELECTED ESTATES OF EUROPE Marchesi Alfieri 2007 La Tota Barbera d’Asti Fleshy and brightly flavored. A good example of the modern style that shows how oak—second and third fill in this instance—and Barbera can work together in harmony. WINE WORTH Coppo 2007 Pomorosso Barbera d’Asti Barriques here, but better integrated than many other wines. A sexy, modern style. WINEBOW Borgo Isolabella 2007 Augusta Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza A successful version of the modern style, with some oak flavors appar- ent but not dry or harsh on the palate. Nice finish. NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED Tenuta La Tenaglia 2007 Barbera d’Asti Giorgio Tenaglia One of the best examples in this tasting: plenti- ful acidity, dark cherry flavors and some tannin. Probably great with food. NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED Cascina Castle’T 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Litina Morello fruit and a more traditional, rustic texture. An exception to the rule that Barbera does not age well. KYSELA PÈRE ET FILS Barbera del Monferrato Azienda Agricola Morando Silvio 2008 Barbera del Monferrato Fruity, relatively simple, juicy and unpretentious. What Barbera—and Italian wine—is all about. NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED VICARA Visconti Cassinis Ravizza 2006 Vadmò Barbera del Monferrato Superiore Mature. Like a Nebbiolo wine from Barolo or Barbaresco in its structure and aromas. PIEDMONT WINE CLUB Barbera d’Alba Cascina Ballarin 2007 Giuli Barbera d’Alba One of the best: rich fruit, not over-oaked, and a crisp finish. IDEAL WINES & SPIRITS/ VINO TERRA IMPORTERS/CLASSIC WINES Bric Cenciurio 2007 Naunda Barbera d’Alba Just a bit oak-dry on the finish but otherwise good; rich fruit, plenty of acidity, and quite elegant. BARTERHOUSE Azienda Agricola Scarzello 2006 Giorgio Barbera d’Alba Superiore A bit oxidized on the nose but a Nebbiolo-like texture on the palate: silky tannins buttressed by plenty of acidity. This is not a coincidence: The grapes are from Barolo. VIGNAIOLI SELECTION PHOTO COURTESY OF BARBERA MEETING

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