Thin-skinned barbera — the most widely-planted grape in Piedmont and the fourth most popular in Italy after sangiovese, catarratto and trebbiano toscano — ripens late, typically after dolcetto but before nebbiolo.
While wines are made in a range of styles, they generally offer low tannins, very high acidity and sharp, often sour cherry and red fruit flavors complemented by earthy overtones. If the grape is planted in select, warmer south-facing vineyards, wines can take on very good concentration. Barbera’s trademark high acidity makes it pair exceptionally well with food, particularly rich and hearty fare.
There are some basic stylistic differences among the wines from Piedmont’s three main barbera denominations: Alba (fuller, richer versions, including the three premier sub-areas of Nizza, Tinella and Astiano); Asti (lighter versions, often with very good balance; this is the largest DOC and perhaps offers the best price-value); and Monferrato (our favorites, a good balance). You will also find varietal wines in the Canavese, Colli Novarese, Colli Torinese, Colli Tortonesi, Gabiano, Pinerolese and Rubino di Cantavenna DOCs.
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