Friday, January 20, 2006

Barbera - Barbera Barricato

Barbera was first recognized as a high quality wine by "Count Nuvolone" when he mentioned Barbera in his report to the king "Sulla coltivazione della vite e sul modo di fare i vini" [The cultivation of vineyards and the production of wine], in 1799. By this time Barbera had taken over many of the lands where nebbiolo was cultivated. The Barbera vine is stronger and produces more fruit per acre than the nebbiolo vine and is extremely consistent. Although widely cultivated in Piemonte Barbera calls the areas of Asti and Alba home.

The Barbera grape is elongated and the color is an intense black. Before taking the name of Barbera it was known as "vinum negrum" or black wine. Most farmers in the area will have a small "personal" production. Grapes they cultivate to make their own wine. During my early years in Italy I would go to Asti and visit various farms in the fall and try their "personal" production as a new wine. Once the first freeze had occurred I would take delivery of three 55 liter glass barrels and hold it in my cellar until March, to then bottle the wine when the moon was right and there was little or no wind. Yes, the almanac was my friend. This was my table wine, and my pride. Although I had not actually produced the wine itself I did choose, after many tastes, and bottle.

Barbera is a very tough grape however the production of Barbera is a delicate process. If not done well the acidity will increase and ruin the wine. Additionally changes in temperature, or moving the wine can create significant problems. This is why the wine was not delivered until after the first freeze. The production of Barbera requires a daily tasting and every 15 days undergoes extensive chemical testing to guarantee the quality of the wine.

There are two primary types of Barbera (without considering the different geographical regions), they are Barbera and Barbera Barricato. The normal Barbera will be 12 % alcohol while the Barricato will be 13.5 % Alcohol.

Both these wines should be decanted at least 1 hour before serving.

The Barbera will be full bodied, fruity and intense. Some versions may tend to be acidic however decanting the wine will help should this occur. Barbera can be stored for long periods of time in an appropriate cellar and will become smoother as the years progress.

Barbera accompanies red meats, baked and roasted fish, dishes with mushrooms, and aged cheeses. It should be served at room temperature.

Barbera Barricato is aged for 3 to 22 months in oak barrels. The tannins from the oak barrels result in greater complexity and balances the full bodied and fruity Barbera. Once the Barbera Barricato has been bottled or shipped it needs to rest for at least 3 months. If you purchase Barbera from a local store I suggest you also allow for several months in the cellar.

Barbera Barricato is a noble wine to accompany red meats, stews, wild fowl and rabbit, grilled meats and aged and savory cheeses. It should be served at room temperature.

Grape: Barbera

Color: Vibrant Ruby Red.

Bouquet: A clean mix of intense fruit and balsamic flavors.

Flavor: Full bodied and fruity, followed by a note of toasted coffee and eucalyptus. Smooth with an acidic support, tannins complete the balance. The aftertaste is fresh and clean with a hint of liquorish.

Alcohol Content: Barbera - 12 % Barbera Barricato – 13.5 %
Serving Temperature: 18-20 c.

Decanting: Barbera and Barbera Barricato must be decanted at least 1 hour.

Pouring: Pour carefully to avoid clouding the wine. In the aged Barbera the madre (residual sugars and larger pieces of the grape) will form so when pouring never turn the bottle over instead tilt slightly past horizontal and leave a finger of wine in the bottle.

Glass: use a clear wide bellied, deep, stemmed glass. This will allow the wine to continue to breath and will release its perfume as you move the glass toward your mouth. This will allow the wine to continue to decant.

This is a great everyday wine and will be appreciated by just about everyone that enjoys red wine.


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Blogger I am The Swirling Chaos Between Your Eyes said...

Like a fine chianti myself, with some favar beans and some human brains.

7:45 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

I am not so sure about the human brains but "cervella" or bovine brain is considered a delicassy!!!

Then again we have a joke in Italy:

A man goes into the meat market to purchase "cervella", he sees 3 types at different prices: bovine 27 Euro a kg, pork 27.50 Euro a kg and Carrabinieri (the federal police force) 150 Euro a kg.

The man asks why the Carrabinieri is so expensive.

Passively the shop owner replies,"Do you understand how many Carrabinieri it takes to get a kg of brain?"

7:54 AM


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