Barbera d’Asti DOCG: The Rare Red Wine of Piedmont

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At the foothills of the snow-capped Alps lies Piedmont, a region whose rolling hills are dotted with medieval churches, castles, borgoes, and the wineries that produce some of Italy’s most popular and unique wines. Barbera d’Asti – which received DOC status in 1970, and DOCG status in 2008 – is made with the robust sapphire-colored Barbera grapes that flourish in the Monferrato region of Piedmont. To locals, it has served as an everyday wine for centuries, and now international consumers are discovering the exceptional drinking experience this unique red provides.

Planted in both marly and sandy soils that often dry out due to the alpine rain shadow, the Barbera grape renders a fruity wine with lower tannins and high acidity. It is simultaneously rich in flavor and light bodied. The cold alpine air crashing into the warm Mediterranean climate forms the intense diurnal temperature swings that fill the valleys with thick morning fog. This creates both the cold weather conditions that give birth to the wine’s intensity, and the warm weather conditions that bring about its richness. The dark pigment of the grape lends the wine its intense color, which ages from deep ruby to garnet.

The Barbera d’Asti DOCG and Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG define the wines of this region, and are intense, vigorous and persistent without being heavy. The Barbera d’Asti is usually fermented in steel barrels, creating a round and silky wine. It starts with pleasant acidity followed by a dry, intense bouquet of red fruits like cherry, blackberry, raspberry, plum, and delicate floral notes. It is one of the few red wines that pairs beautifully with fish, especially the codfish and anchovy dishes popular in the region.

The Barbera d’Asti Superiore is aged in oak or chestnut barrels for a minimum of six months, creating a lush and complex wine that opens with a mélange of dried fruit before realizing its rich and spicy vanilla, coffee and cocoa notes. This wine can be aged anywhere from 10 to 20 years and is best paired with game and red meat, as well as stuffed pasta.

Published on December 6, 2017