My Name is Barbera https://www.mynameisbarbera.com A storytelling Journey through Monferrato Mon, 20 Jan 2020 16:18:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Generation X: Let’s get creative! https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/generation-x-lets-get-creative/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/generation-x-lets-get-creative/#respond Tue, 14 Jan 2020 16:18:00 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=6049 I can’t think of a wine better than Barbera d’Asti thanks to its fresh and light character. Like most Americans (or at least like most Americans who are part of (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X) Generation X, the “Generation Xers”), I grew up believing steadfastly in the widely accepted culinary aphorism: Serve red wine with meat, serve white wine with fish. But that all changed when I first came to study philology at university in Italy and I learned that in certain parts of Italy, like Piedmont, people only drank red wine, even when they were serving fish at home or being served fish…

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I can’t think of a wine better than Barbera d’Asti thanks to its fresh and light character.

Like most Americans (or at least like most Americans who are part of (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X) Generation X, the “Generation Xers”), I grew up believing steadfastly in the widely accepted culinary aphorism: Serve red wine with meat, serve white wine with fish.

But that all changed when I first came to study philology at university in Italy and I learned that in certain parts of Italy, like Piedmont, people only drank red wine, even when they were serving fish at home or being served fish at a dinner party or restaurant.

You have to keep in mind that in the late 1980s, when I first came to Italy, Piedmont’s white wine craze had yet to take shape. Back then, when this Generation Xer wasn’t even of drinking age in his own country, there were no Roero Arneis, Nascetta, or Timorasso to be found. Yes, they all existed and there were small quantities produced. But it’s only over the last decade or so that they have become popular and easy to find in Piedmont and abroad.

Even Piedmont’s viticultural landscape has changed significantly since that time, it’s still one of Italy’s red-wine focused regions. And it’s still a place where people do not frown or sigh when you order a bottle of red wine with fish.

And that brings me to my point: As the new decade dawns on the now fifty-something Generation Xers (guilty as charged!), one of my new year’s and new decade’s resolutions is to be more creative and to pair more red wine with fish. And I can’t think of a wine better than Barbera d’Asti thanks to its fresh and light character.

Seared tuna and Barbera d’Asti? Check!

Grilled mahi mahi fish tacos and Barbera d’Asti (perhaps slightly chilled)? Check!

Braised grouper steak? Check! You could even do a “big” style Barbera d’Asti with a dish like this.

Those are just some of the pairings I’m going to be trying in 2020. And it’s a good thing that I haven’t made a new year’s resolution to lose weight!

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BARBERA D’ASTI’S BITTER SWEET IN THE NY TIMES https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/barbera-dastis-bitter-sweet-in-the-ny-times/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/barbera-dastis-bitter-sweet-in-the-ny-times/#respond Tue, 31 Dec 2019 09:58:47 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=6033 Thanks for being here in 2019 and wishing you a great 2020.   Last week, the wine critic and columnist for the New York Times Eric Asimov (one of my favorite wine writers and author of one of the books that I teach in my wine communications seminar at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Piedmont, not far from Monferrato where Barbera d’Asti is grown), wrote about the delicious “welcome sort of bitterness” in wine. And one of the wines that he names as a great example of this was — yes, you guessed it — Barbera…

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Thanks for being here in 2019 and wishing you a great 2020.

 

Last week, the wine critic and columnist for the New York Times Eric Asimov (one of my favorite wine writers and author of one of the books that I teach in my wine communications seminar at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Piedmont, not far from Monferrato where Barbera d’Asti is grown), wrote about the delicious “welcome sort of bitterness” in wine.

And one of the wines that he names as a great example of this was — yes, you guessed it — Barbera d’Asti.

“I find the welcome sort of bitterness most often in Italian reds,” he wrote in his Christmas week column “For a Sweet 2020, Look to the Bitter in Wine”. “It doesn’t matter which region or what grape, it seems to cut across, whether Valpolicella of the Veneto, Barbera d’Asti of the Piedmont, Chianti Classico of Tuscany, the Aglianicos of Campania or the Etna Rossos of Sicily.”

“Stay aware of the flavors that make so many red wines so delicious,” he writes in closing, “as well as other foods. Perhaps we can make 2020 a bitter year, and I mean that in the best possible way.”

Eric is also one of the best tasters I’ve ever met and his knowledge of wine is encyclopedic.

I love that he included Barbera d’Asti in his short list of the Italian wine canon. And I love even more the fact that he specified Barbera d’Asti and not just Barbera, the grape. It’s a sign that Barbera d’Asti has begun to firmly establish itself as one of Italy’s great wines in the mind’s of Americans. And deservedly so!
For many years, Barbera d’Asti was wrongly relegated to second-tier status in the perceptions of American consumers. And it’s wonderful to see that such prominent voice like Eric’s has included a category shared with Italy’s greatest — and currently trending — wines.

I can’t think of a better way to start off 2020, as Eric writes, on a bitter (sweet) note!

Thanks for being here in 2019 and wishing you a great 2020. See you next year.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS! BARBERA D’ASTI IN YOUR CHRISTMAS STOCKING… https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/happy-holidays-barbera-dasti-in-your-christmas-stocking/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/happy-holidays-barbera-dasti-in-your-christmas-stocking/#respond Mon, 23 Dec 2019 08:57:28 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=6018 Happy holidays, everyone! Thanks for being here throughout the course of the year and thanks for your continued support.   With less than a week before Christmas and just one holiday shopping weekend ahead, a lot of you are going to be scrambling for that last-minute gift, whether for a special someone, a family member, or even an office colleague. Are you surprised to hear me say that Barbera d’Asti makes for the ideal gift idea? I know, I know: “Of course, he thinks Barbera d’Asti makes for the perfect gift idea because he writes for the Barbera d’Asti blog!”…

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Happy holidays, everyone! Thanks for being here throughout the course of the year and thanks for your continued support.

 

With less than a week before Christmas and just one holiday shopping weekend ahead, a lot of you are going to be scrambling for that last-minute gift, whether for a special someone, a family member, or even an office colleague.

Are you surprised to hear me say that Barbera d’Asti makes for the ideal gift idea?

I know, I know: “Of course, he thinks Barbera d’Asti makes for the perfect gift idea because he writes for the Barbera d’Asti blog!”

Yes, yes, that’s true, no doubt.

But at our house, Barbera d’Asti quite literally does make for the perfect gift idea and perhaps not entirely for the reasons you think.

Barbera d’Asti spans a wide range price points.

One of my favorite bottlings of Barbera d’Asti costs around $15 at the local wine shop where I buy a lot of my wine. That’s perfect for a thoughtful gift for a colleague. But at the same wine store, I can also find a top bottle of Barbera d’Asti for around $90, the perfect gift idea for the boss.

Barbera d’Asti comes in a wide range of styles.

Whether I want to for a lighter, fresher style of Barbera d’Asti or a bigger, more austere style, it’s easy to find both in nearly any market in the U.S. From my hipster natural wine drinker friends who go for the light and funky to my “Napa Cab” friends who go for the big and the bold, Barbera d’Asti has my gift giving covered.

Barbera d’Asti can be drunk young or aged.

A corollary of the above, it’s just as easy to find Barbera d’Asti for drinking young as it is to find Barbera d’Asti for long-term aging. Barbera d’Asti, in general, has a longer lifespan, even when vinified in a fresh style. That’s because of the grape variety’s extraordinary acidity. My nephew (of drinking age) will probably pop that bottle right away. And that’s okay because it’s Barbera d’Asti. My father-in-law will probably put it down in his cellar. And likewise, that’s okay because it’s Barbera d’Asti.

Here’s the number one reason why you should give Barbera d’Asti as a gift this holiday season.

Because I LOVE Barbera d’Asti. Yes, I’ll finally admit it: The whole point of this post was that I’m hoping that someone will give me a bottle of Barbera d’Asti for Christmas this year.

Happy holidays, everyone! And Merry Christmas! May your new year be filled with health and happiness — and plenty of Barbera d’Asti!

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HER NAME WAS BARBERA, TOO https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/her-name-was-barbera-too/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/her-name-was-barbera-too/#respond Tue, 17 Dec 2019 11:23:04 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=6014 As the year and the decade — a tumultuous one! — come to a close, it’s only natural that we let a little bit a nostalgia creep into our lives.   Just as it we do every year, we look inward and backward at the stories that delivered us to this point in our lives. After attending my niece’s graduation from college last week, my mind and memory drifted back to my college years. And in particular, to my first year living in Italy, my “junior year abroad” at the University of Padua, which was part of an exchange program…

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As the year and the decade — a tumultuous one! — come to a close, it’s only natural that we let a little bit a nostalgia creep into our lives.

 

Just as it we do every year, we look inward and backward at the stories that delivered us to this point in our lives. After attending my niece’s graduation from college last week, my mind and memory drifted back to my college years. And in particular, to my first year living in Italy, my “junior year abroad” at the University of Padua, which was part of an exchange program with the University of California Los Los Angeles, otherwise known as U.C.L.A., my alma mater.

Growing up in California, it was only natural that I would have had at least some experience with wine. California was one of the few states that had genuine “wine culture.” And even though I grew up in San Diego, where beer and spirits are to this day much more popular than fine wine, I loved and drank wine regularly — even though I knew or understood little about it.
Some of my strongest memories from that first year living in Italy are of meals that I shared in the homes of my friends, mostly fellow students. On the weekends, they would invite me to Sunday lunch with their parents who were always welcoming and eager to help support a 19-year-old college student who found himself far from home.

It was at one of the Sunday lunches that I first tasted a Barbera d’Asti. I can remember it so well! It was served as pairing for a pasticcio di radicchio trevigiano, an oven-fired dish made of sautéed, tender radicchio trevigiano layered with pasta sheets, béchamel, and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. It was delicious, as was the pairing, bright and lively in the glass, with fresh red and berry fruit flavors.

Over the course of that first year in Italy — the country that would become my second home and the source of my livelihood — I drank a lot of Barbera d’Asti. So many of my friends’ families regularly served Barbera d’Asti as their house wine. Even though I spent that first year mostly in the Veneto region (aside from the occasional trip to Florence and Rome), I probably drank more Barbera d’Asti than any other red wine (aside from the swill we used to make sangria at dorm parties).
I learned then that Barbera d’Asti was and is one of Italy’s quintessential “gastronomic” (food friendly) wines, as the kids say today.

Today, I know a lot more about Barbera d’Asti and wine in general. Back then, I was just a kid trying to understand the world around me and soaking it all in — food, wine, and culture. That meal is one of my most cherished memories. It really is.

And just like the friend whose family hosted me on a cold winter’s day in 1987, her name was Barbera, too

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Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont’s original “cru-designate wine” https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/barbera-dasti-piedmonts-original-cru-designate-wine/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/barbera-dasti-piedmonts-original-cru-designate-wine/#respond Sat, 07 Dec 2019 08:05:09 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=5999 In today’s world of fine wine connoisseurship, “single-vineyard designations” are all the rage. What is a single-vineyard designation or “cru designation,” you ask? The word cru is borrowed from French. It’s literally translated as growth but it actually denotes a delimited parcel, sometimes a very small one, where fruit for a given wine is sourced. In France, top wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy are ranked by cru or vineyard designation. The French AOC system — akin to the Italian DOC system — is finely tuned and creates a hierarchy of wines based on whether they are sourced from top-tier crus, second-tier crus,…

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In today’s world of fine wine connoisseurship, “single-vineyard designations” are all the rage.

What is a single-vineyard designation or “cru designation,” you ask?

The word cru is borrowed from French. It’s literally translated as growth but it actually denotes a delimited parcel, sometimes a very small one, where fruit for a given wine is sourced.

In France, top wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy are ranked by cru or vineyard designation. The French AOC system — akin to the Italian DOC system — is finely tuned and creates a hierarchy of wines based on whether they are sourced from top-tier crus, second-tier crus, village-sourced (the third tier), or pan-appellation sourced, in other words, where the grapes can come from anywhere in the appellation (the fourth tier).

In Italy, there is no official cru system in place. But in recent years, the Italian system has allowed for what is known as the menzione geografica aggiuntiva or the added geographical mention to be included on the label. The Italian DOC doesn’t allow for an official hierarchy or ranking of the vineyard designations (unlike in France where nearly the whole system is centered around the hierarchy or ranking).

But anecdotally, the cru designations in Italy can have an out-sized impact on the value and desirability of the wine. Especially since the popularity of Italian wines has grown in the U.S. over the last two decades, the de facto cru system has become more and more important. And that’s in part because the ever-precise Americans love wines that are vineyard designated (I’ll write more about that in a subsequent post).

And that brings me to the point of this post. Few will remember, although it’s a really important moment in the history of Italian wine, that one of the first cru designated wines in Italy was a Barbera d’Asti.

As per the blog protocol, I can mention the producer’s name but long before people were swooning over this Barolo or that Barbaresco cru, it was a Barbera d’Asti grower that released one of Piedmont’s most famous and earliest cru-designate wines.

The year was 1975 and not long after, another prominent Barbera d’Asti producer released the second cru-designate wine from the appellation.

And the rest is history. 

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5 REASONS UNCLE SAM NEEDS BARBERA D’ASTI MORE THAN EVER https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/5-reasons-uncle-sam-needs-barbera-dasti-more-than-ever/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/5-reasons-uncle-sam-needs-barbera-dasti-more-than-ever/#respond Thu, 28 Nov 2019 14:13:00 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=5973 With the arrival of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., the nation officially kicks off its 2019 holiday season.

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With the arrival of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., the nation officially kicks off its 2019 holiday season.

That means that Americans from all walks of life, from coast to coast to the southeastern U.S. to the midwest, from the Mexican border to the Canadian, will be hosting and attending myriad holiday parties. And this, my American friends and fellows, is why Uncle Sam Needs Barbera d’Asti more than ever (for the holiday season, that is).

Here are the 5 top reasons — in my humble (however well informed) opinion — that Barbera d’Asti makes for the perfect holiday wine.

  1. Barbera d’Asti is the ultimate food-friendly wine.

Top sommeliers across the U.S. agree that Barbera d’Asti, because of its freshness and agility at the dinner table, make it one of the world’s greatest food-friendly wines (or “gastronomic” wines as many in the trade now say).

  1. Barbera d’Asti has restrained alcohol.

Barbera d’Asti is an acidity-driven wine not an alcoholic one. Traditionally and historically, in part due to the nature of the Barbera grape variety, it’s almost always vinified with restrained alcohol. That’s part of why it’s so food-friendly. But it also makes it ideal for the holiday season when we are all drinking more than usual.

  1. There’s a Barbera d’Asti for everyone.

Whether your looking for a high-end Barbera d’Asti to gift to your boss or an easy-going Barbera d’Asti to open with friends at lunch, there’s a Barbera d’Asti for everyone. Go big, go small, go delicious. Barbera d’Asti offers a wide range of gift and pairing options. Probably more so than any other Italian grape and appellation.

  1. Barbera d’Asti is authenticity in a bottle.

Whether vinified in a “big” tannic style with bold and rich flavors; or produced in a light, bright style with lithe and fresh flavors, rarely does a bottling of Barbera d’Asti not reflect local tradition and values. That’s in part due to the fact that it’s difficult to mask Barbera d’Asti’s wonderful character. And why would anyone want to?

  1. Barbera d’Asti is just damn delicious.

Don’t believe me? Try some for yourself. You’ll thank me.

Happy holidays everyone! Stay tuned for Barbera d’Asti pairing suggestions.

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1975 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/1975-barbera-dasti/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/1975-barbera-dasti/#respond Tue, 19 Nov 2019 10:00:08 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=5944 The year that changed everything in Barbera d’Asti   Wine is always a dialectic: An exchange and a “tension,” as it were, between the person who makes the wine and the person who consumes the wine. Somewhere in between the moment when the wine is bottled by the producer and the moment when the cork is pulled out of the bottle by the consumer, the wine itself takes on a new “meaning” that the winemaker cannot foresee, contain, and — in some cases, I would go as far to say — can’t understand or perceive. My doctoral thesis advisor used…

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The year that changed everything in Barbera d’Asti

 

Wine is always a dialectic: An exchange and a “tension,” as it were, between the person who makes the wine and the person who consumes the wine. Somewhere in between the moment when the wine is bottled by the producer and the moment when the cork is pulled out of the bottle by the consumer, the wine itself takes on a new “meaning” that the winemaker cannot foresee, contain, and — in some cases, I would go as far to say — can’t understand or perceive.

My doctoral thesis advisor used to call it “the great misunderstanding otherwise known as the Atlantic Ocean.” He was referring to the fact that historically, American academia has often interpreted European literature in novel and unexpected ways. And of course, vice versa, this also holds for Europeans’ interpretations of American literature.

Of course, when it comes to wine, not much wine travels from North America to Europe. Some does. But not much. But A LOT of wine travels from Europe to the U.S. and it often makes for what the late great scholar of the western canon Harold Bloom called “misunderstanding.” It’s not just misunderstanding in the very literal sense but, more aptly put, a “reinterpretation” that doesn’t reflect the author’s original intention.

Why do I bring this up? It’s because I often see a parallel between the Bloomian concept of misunderstanding in literature and the way we perceive and consume European wines in this country.

Americans are a very technical people, as Dostoevsky once wrote. They like precision and minutiae in nearly all things. It’s one of the reasons why Americans crave precise breakdowns of grape varieties in a cuvée (where Europeans will just call it a “field blend” without specifying the exact amounts, for example).

And the same thing can be said of Americans’ love of “vineyard designate” wines. I believe that it’s their love of specificity in wine that prompts them to prefer a “single vineyard” wine over a classic blended wine. Especially when it comes to the wines of Piedmont, the old-time growers will tell you that it’s an assemblage of different vineyards that makes for a true expression of the appellation — not a single vineyard wine.

And here’s where I get to my point (sorry for the circuitous path!): In 1975, long before American wine writers and collectors were scribbling notes on this vineyard’s value of that vineyard, a couple of forward-thinking Barbera d’Asti growers decided to bottle single-vineyard designate wines made from 100 percent Barbera. I can’t reveal their names (because of this blog’s protocols) but you probably have heard of them.

It was a moment that changed everything in Barbera d’Asti.

To be continued...

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ELISE VANDENBURG AND BARBERA D’ASTI https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/elise-vandenburg-barbera-dasti/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/elise-vandenburg-barbera-dasti/#respond Wed, 06 Nov 2019 15:23:31 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=5936 You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy a delicious bottle of Barbera d’Asti! (Elise Vandenburg)   American sommelier Elise Vandenberg has managed some of America’s top wine programs, including stints at Chez-Louie in Reno, Nevada and Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas. She is also a Vinitaly International Academy Ambassador of Italian Wine, one of the trade’s most prestigious titles, and she lectures and leads guided tastings of Italian wine regularly across the U.S. She currently works for distributor Vin Sauvage, a premier boutique distributor in Las Vegas, one of America’s leading wine markets. Elise, What was…

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You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy a delicious bottle of Barbera d’Asti! (Elise Vandenburg)

 

American sommelier Elise Vandenberg has managed some of America’s top wine programs, including stints at Chez-Louie in Reno, Nevada and Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas. She is also a Vinitaly International Academy Ambassador of Italian Wine, one of the trade’s most prestigious titles, and she lectures and leads guided tastings of Italian wine regularly across the U.S. She currently works for distributor Vin Sauvage, a premier boutique distributor in Las Vegas, one of America’s leading wine markets.

Elise, What was your first experience with Barbera d’Asti?

I remember discovering Barbera d’Asti years ago at a tasting of Italian wines. I was happy to encounter fresh, juicy fruit flavors, and the refreshing acidity of the wine surprised my palate in a very pleasant way.

What do you like about Barbera d’Asti as opposed to other top Italian grape varieties?

Barbera d’Asti delivers juicy and luscious fruit flavors coupled with refreshing acidity. I often tell clients and consumers that Barbera d’Asti is a high quality wine that can be enjoyed on any day at any time. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy a delicious bottle of Barbera d’Asti!

Barbera is often called “the ultimate food wine,” thanks to its freshness, bright fruit flavors, and versatility. What’s your favorite traditional pairing and your favorite creative pairing?

Barbera d’Asti is so much fun to pair with food! Traditionally, Barbera d’Asti pairs extremely well with tomato-based sauces because the wine has enough acidity to stand up to the natural acidity found in tomatoes. I also enjoy pairing Barbera d’Asti with grilled meats and vegetables because the ripe, fresh fruit flavors in the wine enhance the smoky notes from grilling.

Are your clients familiar with Barbera d’Asti?

Yes, Barbera d’Asti is popular among wine lovers who frequent restaurants and retail shops. I think that consumers are more willing to choose and try Barbera d’Asti because they can pronounce the name! Many clients tell me, “I love Barbera d’Asti!

Do your clients associate Barbera d’Asti with Piedmont? (If not, where do they think it comes from?)

Yes, clients do associate Barbera d’Asti with Piemonte. I always explain that Barbera is a grape and Asti is a place. Fortunately, due to other grapes from the region being associated with the Asti name, many consumers and clients understand that Barbera d’Asti comes from a particular place in northwestern Italy.

What’s your advice to Barbera d’Asti producers on how to reach American sommeliers and consumers?

Keep up the good work! In recent years, I have seen successful marketing campaigns highlighting Barbera d’Asti, including “My Name Is Barbera.” I have also attended educational seminars focusing on the wines of Barbera d’Asti. It’s always helpful to educate restaurant sommeliers with tastings and in-depth seminars, and I would encourage the producers to participate in more tastings and educational seminars. Public tastings and consumer events are another way to pair light educational components with introductory tastings to raise awareness among consumers.

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STEVEN McDONAND AND BARBERA D’ASTI https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/steven-mcdonand-barbera-dasti/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/steven-mcdonand-barbera-dasti/#respond Mon, 28 Oct 2019 11:13:08 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=5927 Barbera d’Asti is certainly the ultimate food friendly wine. (Steven McDonald)   Master Sommelier Steven McDonald serves as wine director for one of the top steakhouses in the U.S., Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston, Texas. Widely considered the state’s top destination for fine wine, he oversees a program that was recently awarded the prestigious Grand Award by the editors of Wine Spectator magazine (one of eight programs worldwide to receive this coveted accolade this year). Even though his program is focused on California Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux, Italian wine is his first love and his greatest passion. What was your…

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Barbera d’Asti is certainly the ultimate food friendly wine. (Steven McDonald)

 

Master Sommelier Steven McDonald serves as wine director for one of the top steakhouses in the U.S., Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston, Texas. Widely considered the state’s top destination for fine wine, he oversees a program that was recently awarded the prestigious Grand Award by the editors of Wine Spectator magazine (one of eight programs worldwide to receive this coveted accolade this year). Even though his program is focused on California Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux, Italian wine is his first love and his greatest passion.

What was your first experience with Barbera d’Asti?
My first experience with Barbera from a specific region was when I was working in New York at Ai Fiori. We had one by the glass and several by the bottle.

What do you like about Barbera d’Asti as opposed to other top Italian grape varieties?
As you allude to in your next question it is certainly the ultimate food friendly wine. The reasons are simple, it has great acid and fresh fruit flavors. Barbera is a grape that could certainly reach its full potential as one of Italy’s noble grapes alongside Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Aglianico but its beauty is in its finesse. I think it needs to be expressed as more Pinot Noir-like.

Barbera is often called “the ultimate food wine,” thanks to its freshness, bright fruit flavors, and versatility. What’s your favorite traditional pairing and your favorite creative pairing?
Traditional – pasta and pizza! Anything better in life?! Ha!
Creative – Black Tea Smoked Duck (remember the Pinot comment?)

Are your clients familiar with Barbera d’Asti?
No, unfortunately they may be familiar with the varietal but they are certainly not versed enough to know which region is ideal.

Do your clients associate Barbera d’Asti with Piedmont? (If not, where do they think it comes from?)
They may associate that it comes from Piedmont but understand that the confusion comes from Alba vs. Asti.

What’s your advice to Barbera d’Asti producers on how to reach American sommeliers and consumers?
Be careful that you are not pushing too hard to make Barbera something it isn’t. Keep making more site specific and elegant wines, keep the pricing down and watch the sommelier community get behind it in a big way.

 

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THE “MALO MYSTERY” https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/malolactic-fermentations-role-barbera-dasti/ https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/malolactic-fermentations-role-barbera-dasti/#respond Mon, 21 Oct 2019 19:00:18 +0000 https://www.mynameisbarbera.com/?p=5919 Before temperature-controlled tanks, the winemakers occasionally would find it challenging to “provoke” malolactic fermentation because it was so cold in the winery. I’ve written numerous posts here on the My Name Is Barbera blog about acidity in Barbera and why it’s not a “four-letter word”. And I’ve also written multiple posts about Barbera’s remarkable aging ability and how acidity plays a key role in the wine’s longevity. In my last post, I wrote about a 1996 Barbera d’Asti that just blew me away with its freshness and vibrancy. It was a truly exceptional case, though. The winemaker — one of…

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Before temperature-controlled tanks, the winemakers occasionally would find it challenging to “provoke” malolactic fermentation because it was so cold in the winery.

I’ve written numerous posts here on the My Name Is Barbera blog about acidity in Barbera and why it’s not a “four-letter word”.

And I’ve also written multiple posts about Barbera’s remarkable aging ability and how acidity plays a key role in the wine’s longevity.

In my last post, I wrote about a 1996 Barbera d’Asti that just blew me away with its freshness and vibrancy.

It was a truly exceptional case, though. The winemaker — one of Barbera d’Asti’s most iconic — explained to me that before the estate in question introduced temperature control, they often had trouble provoking malolactic fermentation.

Nearly all red wine undergoes two fermentations. The first is alcoholic, the process whereby yeast turns the sugar in the grape must into alcoholic. The second is known as malolactic fermentation or “conversion,” a process whereby stronger malic acidity is converted into softer lactic acidity.

Monferrato, in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region (literally at the foot of the Alps, hence the name Piedmont from the Latin pedemontium meaning at the foot of the mountains), often experiences long, cold winters. Before temperature-controlled tanks, the winemakers occasionally would find it challenging to “provoke” malolactic fermentation because it was so cold in the winery.

In the case of the 1996 Barbera d’Asti, that’s exactly what happened. But the winemaker decided to bottle the wine anyway (instead of having it distilled). For many years after bottling, the winemaker said, its acidity levels were so high that the wine was drinkable although not pleasurable. Over time, the acidity began to mellow and come into balance with the other components of the wine. And as I wrote in my last post, the wine was drinking beautifully — one of the best wines I’ve drunk all year.

It’s a great, however extreme, example of the role that acidity and malolactic fermentation play in making Barbera d’Asti one of the world’s most unique and distinctive wines.

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