What makes a good wine? The one you can afford? The one you can give out as a present? The one you enjoy in the best moments of your life? The expensive one? Everyone will come up with their own answer.
It’s no big secret: Barbera is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Italy (one can find it virtually in every region) but also abroad. While many know the connection to Asti and Alba, experts talk more and more about its origins in the rolling hills of Monferrato, Piedmont, where, unlike the neighboring regions, it normally occupies the best available vineyards.
So what’s there to do about it, when the grape goes that popular around the world? Well, make the best Barbera possible! While many people who hasn’t tried good Barbera still believe it’s a grape that gives wines a bit high in acidity, top Barbera producers know how to soothe the wine and pack it’s nerving acidity into beautiful, harmonious wine. As a blending grape Barbera used to bring necessary addition to the famous wines of Piedmont, but now when it’s out there on its own, winemakers are looking for ways to make it a healthy standalone wine.
Many of them has found the perfect recipe for combining soils, grapes and gentle barrel maturation, others are still on their way.
Bottle maturation is also something not many winemakers do today, but personally I think it’s a must if one wants to show the real potential of Barbera. There always will be a hard battle between the market forces (that require Barberas to be shipped and consumed young) and the need to express the terroirs and produce the best wine possible out there.
Make no mistake: we have examples of great Barberas, both from producers big and small. It’s possible, but there’s a strong need for will to do so, for the understanding of the current consumer palates around the world. As in many other cases, although, the great Barberas need to be sought after: brilliant and intense, balanced and bright, fruity and complex, these wines leave not much to ask for. It’s not that I’m the first one to discover the flexibility of this grape.
There’s no doubt in my mind Barbera is yet to show its full potential on a larger scale. I’ve seen nice producers and I’ve seen great producers that handle the variety in a way it gives out both fruity and terroir characters.
Isn’t this the ultimate goal for a great Barbera d’Asti?