Barbera d’Asti welcomes wine writers from around the world.
Last week a group of 100 or so wine writers, wine bloggers, lifestyle writers, and “opinion leaders” (as they call them in Italy) were welcomed in the land of Barbera by the Barbera d’Asti growers and bottlers consortium.
It was a really impressive gathering, with people from all over the world: China, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, England, and America. And those are just the people I interacted and traded notes with. I don’t even know exactly how many countries were represented. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. Back in my media junket days, groups like this were usually limited to 10-12 people at the most.
One of the highlights was Kerin O’Keefe’s master class on Barbera d’Asti where the writers etc. got to taste 19 wines side-by-side. Kerin O’Keefe is one of the leading English-language Italian-focused wine writers working in the world today. And she’s also a top taster: As a senior editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine she tastes thousands of Italian wines each year. It was great to get to glean Kerin O’Keefe insights as she led the tasting and we tasted the wines together.
While the styles varied greatly, the overarching high quality of the wines was truly impressive. It seemed that all of my colleagues agreed that the wines were among the best we had ever tasted from the appellation. And of course, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of the three days that we were “on the ground” in Barbera d’Asti, we also had the opportunity to taste with scores and scores of producers.
One thing that emerged was that many Barbera growers and producers (most of them, in fact) make a “traditional-style” wine and a “modern-style” wine. I couldn’t help but note that a lot of them presented the wines as such (verbatim).
The traditional wines are generally made in stainless steel and are fresher and brighter than their modern counterparts, which are generally aged in new cask. The cask-aged wines are “bigger” and rounder, which notes of oak and tobacco complementing the classic zippy fruit that Barbera delivers. I tend to prefer the traditional. But like many of my colleagues, I found myself enjoying the modern-style wines. It seems that Barbera d’Asti has really found its groove in terms of its ability to produce “something for everyone.”
Especially given the size of the group, the organizers did a fantastic job of executing the event. And we were all treated to a bounty of freshly shaved truffles. On one day, we ate truffles at lunch and dinner!
Thank you, Barbera d’Asti, for hosting us. It was a really remarkable and unforgettable experience.