Thursday, January 19, 2006

Barbaresco – “Cinderella of Wines”

If Barolo is the king of wines Barbaresco is surely Cinderella become queen.

Barbaresco has deep roots in the history and culture of Piemonte. The Romans arrived in this area, conquered the Celtics who inhabited this region and cut the Oak forests to plant the vinyards. In local dialect it was called Nebiu'l. The first reference was in 1200 by "il Pinerolese" and these documents prove that the nebbiolo vines were planted at least 300 years before their major competitors, Barbera and Moscato, which arrived between 1500-1600.

The Duomo di Alba, built in the 1500s, in one of the murals shows the town of Barbaresco with vast vineyards in the surrounding area. In just a few years following this period Nebbiolo lost ground to Moscato, and in the rest of Piemonte to Barbera because these vineyards produced more grapes and were not as delicate, however Nebbiolo remained dominant in hills of Barolo and Barbaresco.

In 1799 the Austrian forces conquered the French in the planes of Genola on the 4th of November. The sixth of the same month, General De Melas, ordered the town of Barbaresco to supply a wagon of the excellent nebbiolo.

The "Cascina Drago di San Rocco Seno d'Elvio" (what a name) holds a bottle of with the handwritten label "Barbaresco 1870", said to be the oldest bottle in existence with the name of the town.

In 1894 Domizio Cavazza, director of the king's enological school in Alba, purchased the Castle of Barbaresco with all of the surrounding vineyards. In the same year he founded the "Cantine Sociali di Barbaresco" and made 10 of the owners of local vineyards partners. He then patented the "Modern Method" for the production of wine from nebbiolo and launched the Barbaresco name across the Italian market. He associated the quality of the wine to the already famous Barolo. He wrote an ode to his wine: "In you are corrected the austere tones of your big brother Barolo... To you, glasses are not measured, as would be necessary with your heavy and heady rivals, for you, now is the time and every good meal is your companion."

Barbaresco is one of my favorite wines. I prefer Barbaresco to Barolo in most cases. Barbaresco can accompany just about any dish that would be appropriate with Barolo except for the most savory of dishes. Barbaresco is smooth, once decanted, and has sufficient complexity to accompany everything from cannelloni to wild game. Barbaresco is also fantastic, through the evening, just as a sipping wine. Smell the perfume, it is intoxicating even before it arrives on your taste buds.

Find a producer and a year of Barbaresco that you like. Hide 4 bottles, you do not want to run out, somewhere they cannot be found and pull them out when you need to create the most accommodating environment. This wine, when good, is really good. It wraps you in a blanket, sits you down in a comfortable environment and cuddles you as long as it lasts.

Barbaresco must be aged for at least 2 years in barrels of Oak or Chestnut.

Grape: Nebbiolo – clone varieties Michet, Lampia and Rose'

Color: Garnet red with ruby highlights in the fingernails (this is the ring where the wine meets the glass. The wine “clings” to the side and raises slightly from the surface)

Bouquet: intense, exceptionally complex. When young, clear notes of rose and violet. As the wine ages, scents of cherry and cooked prunes followed by sensations of tartufo and dried mushrooms to finish in spices of pepper, cinnamon and vanilla.

Flavor: Dry, full bodied, harmony among a wide range of flavors, slightly velvety, good strong structure with complexity; in the mouth a hint of blackberry, liquorish and vanilla, tobacco and coffee. The tannins, which dry the palette, are prevalent in young wines while diminishing as the wine ages.

Alcohol Content: 12.5 %
Serving Temperature: 18-20 c.

Reserve: Must be aged at least 4 years

Decanting: No need to decant a young Barbaresco, less than 5 years, at least 15 minutes before serving on aged Barbaresco.

Pouring: Italian wines and specifically Barbaresco do not use micro filtration. Pour carefully to avoid clouding the wine. In the aged Barbaresco 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 increase your perception of the complex flavors.

I love good wines. I will choose food to accompany the wine I want to drink, Barbaresco, with Tignanello, Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Sperss, Guado al Tasso and Pergole Torte are my favorites. When the world is falling around you these wines will give you a reason to fight and become the king of the mountain.


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Blogger Tracie P. said...

i ate a nebbiolo grape(just one) out of the bricco di asili vineyard--shhhh-don't tell federico ;)

11:49 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

tracie b. - you are couragious!!!!

12:16 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Ymmmm...going to Barbaresco area shortly & hoping my name (Baresco) will help find me good food AND vino! J M B

1:59 PM


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