Barbera is a bridge that starts an adventure into the history, land, people, and tastes that make up such compelling and unique wines as Ruchè, Grignolino, Albarossa.
Well, this is it.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve officially come to the end of such an eye-opening, palate-expanding, and, yeah, wine-soaked journey that I started many months ago. I’m forever grateful to the Consorzio Barbera d’Asti e vini del Monferrato for making it happen.
And it’s ironic, but after working with a great organization that focuses on the Monferrato region’s incredible range of Barbera wines and production, and writing and videoing about it for a website called My Name Is Barbera, I’m going to finish my work here by imploring you to explore the red wines of the region other than Barbera!
That’s because Monferrato sits inside of Piemonte, one of the most versatile wine regions in all of Italy (and therefore, by extension, one of the most versatile wine regions in all of the world). If you want to blow your own mind sometime, go check out a map of the official DOC and DOCG wine-producing areas in Monferrato – you will see a panoply of overlapping production regions that include some of the most well-known of northern Italian wines, along with several lesser-known but impressive and up-and-coming offerings.
Barbera is the pop star of the Monferrato reds, no doubt, but for lovers of Italian wine, and of versatile, food-friendly red wines in general, Barbera can be something more: Barbera is the “gateway drug” to the rest of Piedmont. Barbera is a bridge that starts an adventure into the history, land, people, and tastes that make up such compelling and unique wines as Ruchè, Grignolino, Albarossa.
I know this, because I literally lived it (just go check through this website’s back catalog, folks!). And it was awesome.
And the quickest way that I can summarize Ruchè, Grignolino, and Albarossa for you is to tell you that if the swashbuckling Indiana Jones ever drank wine, then these are the grapes that would likely have been his favorites.
Will Ruchè, Grignolino, or Albarossa ever topple Barbera as the ambassador of Monferrato red wine to the world? Maybe, but we’re unlikely to see that in our lifetimes; their production numbers just are nowhere near as high as Barbera d’Asti. But that, to me, is actually kind of the point of those off-the-beaten-path grapes. By their very natures, they are so unique that they demand exploration, daring, and an open mind.
They are the lovable, handsome, anti-heros of Piemonte red wine. They are quirky, and scene-stealing, and make us love them despite their assertive natures. And maybe most importantly, these are wines for badass gastronomic adventurers! They are wily, surprising, and have turn-on-a-dime versatility (sounds a lot like a certain scruffy, fedora-wearing, whip-snapping film hero, doesn’t it?). Only the vinously daring need apply.
I can imagine what some of you are probably thinking, your inner voice sounding something like “but wait, don’t you want me to love Barbera?” Do I want you to love Barbera like I love it? Yes, of course I want you to love Barbera like I love it. I actually can’t think of any valid reason for you not to love Barbera.
But what I’m trying to get at here is that I don’t want you to stop your Monferrato love with Barbera. If you explore the riches of Piemonte’s many incarnations of Barbera, you’ll undoubtedly be a happy camper, sure. But you’re not finished exploring Monferrato with It. Ignore Ruchè, Grignolino, or Albarossa, and you ignore the hidden gems, the secret passageways, the cool extra finds that make the exploration all the more complete, and all the more rewarding for the effort.
What I’m getting at here is that you don’t want to pack up and walk away from the Temple of Monferrato just because you found the golden idol of Barbera. You need to keep that fedora on, and keep that whip handy at your side, and continue to explore. You need to find the rest of the treasures tucked away in there.
What I’m getting at here is that you’re a Monferrato adventurer now. So enjoy the journey, revisit the spoils, and maybe even show some other adventures the quickest way down the paths.