Fresh, with vibrant fruit, slightly underripe, and electric acidity. What is it? A Barbera d’Asti, of course.
Here on the My Name Is Barbera blog, I’ve written numerous posts about Barbera d’Asti’s extraordinary aging potential.
Most wine professionals think of Barbera as a wine to be drunk in its youth. Even when it comes to Barbera d’Asti — the top tier of wines made from the Barbera grape — there is still a lot of confusion regarding its age-worthiness.
One of the rules of the My Name Is Barbera blog is that contributors are not allowed to mention specific producers by name. But for anyone familiar with the appellation, it’s not hard to come up with a shortlist of top wineries that make richer-style Barbera d’Asti that ages extremely well.
This was on my mind during a recent visit to Monferrato — the spiritual homeland of Barbera — when I tasted at one of the appellation’s most celebrated and storied estates.
After tasting a series of Barbera d’Asti bottlings that stretched back more than a decade (the oldest was 2008 and it was drinking beautifully), we turned our attention to a Barbera d’Asti from the 1996 vintage. Yes, a Barbera d’Asti with twenty plus years of aging on it.
I expected it to be slightly “tired,” as we say in the wine trade. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be very compelling in certain instances to taste wines that are past their prime but still have life in it.
But, man, this wine just seemed to JUMP out of the bottle: It was wonderfully fresh, with vibrant fruit, slightly underripe, and electric acidity. It was one of the best wines I’ve had all year (and I drink a lot of great wine between professional tastings and events and my family’s cellar). It was such a great example of Barbera d’Asti’s immense potential when grown and raised by the right winemaker.
And it also gives a window into the role that malolactic fermentation plays in Barbera d’Asti. And that will be the subject of my next post.