Barbera red grape variety of Piedmont, Italy

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Barbera grape variety
Wine glossary

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Barbera struggles to shrug off its status as second fiddle to Nebbiolo in terms of quality but not in terms of plantings where it outranks its cousin by a factor of 15 to 1. It is a native red grape of the Piedmont area in north-west Italy, particularly near the towns of Asti and Alba (known throughout the world as truffle towns).
While it plays second fiddle, it is also the most widely planted grape in Italy after Sangiovese.
It is similar in flavour and structure to Cabernet Sauvignon but the tannins are not quite as fine as those exhibited by well-ripened Cabernet. The level of acidity is also higher.
Nevertheless some very good wines are made from this grape that are particular favourites. There are a number of Barbera plantings in California where the grape is mainly used for blending rather than the production of strict varietal wines.
We are particularly interested in the fact that the Barbera D'Alba DOC allows the wines to include at least 70% of Barbera but also allows the wines to be matured in barrels made from chestnut wood!
There are some particularly stunning wines that are made from this grape that put their more prestigious cousins to shame. The Roberto Voerzio Barbera Ris Pozzo dell'Annunziata or the well-priced Matteo-Correggia Barbera are worth serious attention.
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