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Italian wine and grape guide : Barbera

Barbera

The Barbera is a red grape variety widely found in Piedmont and Lombardy and in various other Italian regions, mainly central and north, and its cultivation has expanded over the years making Barbera the most planted varietal in Piedmont and together with the Sangiovese, the most planted in Italy.

Barbera is an easy to grow red grape, and whilst in Piedmont is very often vinified on its own and produces the widely known Barbera D’Alba and Barbera D’Asti, outside the region, it is often used in blends due to its high level of acidity, supporting grapes that are lacking it.

Initially the Barbera was considered an average grape and wine, it was the everyday wine in Piedmont, considered inferior to Nebbiolo wines, but over time, thanks to forward thinking wine makers and the use of wood ageing to add tannins, complexity and longevity, its reputation has grown and now Barbera produces excellent examples.

The Barbera grape is used in many wines, there are dozens of Italian DOC wines permitting its use, but the most important, and made only with Barbera grape, are the Barbera D’Alba, from grapes grown in vineyards located in and around the town of Alba, and Barbera D’Asti, from Asti, both towns located in Piedmont and very close to each other.

Despite Barbera d’Alba enjoying a better reputation, more elegance and less acidity, in the eyes of wine drinkers, a new wave of wine makers from the Asti region, is making outstanding Barbera D’Asti wines, mainly Superiore and Nizza DOCG, until recently, all part of the Barbera D’Asti DOCG appellation and now appellations on their own with the aim of changing the Barbera D’Asti reputation.