Barbera: Piedmont's Chameleon

An identity crisis yields confusion in the marketplace.

10,000 bottles
One year in wood, half large half small,
From two hectares south of Serralunga, only vineyard outside of Nebbiolo,  ten years old, should be planted in Nebbiolo, equal soil to Serralunga, same subsoil as Cascina Francia
Very dark color.
Older wood aromas greet the nose bringing some salami notes to the coffee and wood spiced red cherry, currant and plum fruit that’s here. There’s  a hint of something medicinal here as well. At first soft and broad on the palate, then nice acidity shows up adding nice crispness on the palate. Slightly inky and matte in the mouth, with rich black fruit and some creamy cafe au lait character to it that powers the long finish which shows some chewy tannins. This is awfully appealing in its style, which is a bit too modern for me but it’s not overly fruity or sweet. 89pts

Only produced in special vintage, ie no 2012
Smells of wood, smoky and a little mushroomy with some Irish spring soap, and hints of slate, blue fruit, and sweet wood.  Round, lush, packed with blue fruit on entry this is awfully sexy in the mouth in a powerful soft and sleek style There’s a little wood tannin drying out the finish a bit but this does have plenty of concentration of fruit and it shows excellent persistence on the finish. 89pts

Aged in a 50hl barrrel
Woodsy aromas greet the nose where there is  a nice base spice tone, a touch of oyster shells, very pretty slow to emerge violet notes and very clear berry fruit. This is rich, broad and broad in the mouth with a nice tang to the acids. the palate shows great cut to the lovely black fruit,  clear though broad shouldered in the mouth with some wood tannins on the finish, this is elegant and powerful and probably will be better in a year or two. 89pts

Almost 6 grams of acidity
Lovely floral spice pops on the precise nose which shows off precise aromas of fresh fruit that are quite high tned. Perhaps a touch soft on the palate this exhibits lovely clarity with black fruit that is just a touch roasted. The acidity appears later on the palate lending an elegance here and cleansing the palate. This turns into a bit of fruit bomb, not in a pejorative way but this is bursting with juicy black berry, fruit and black plum flavors that linger on the long black fruited finish. 88pts

Just opened
A bit inky and ripe on the nose with floral and vegetal beet root tones, and almost with some Pinot character, kind of Oregon Pinot like. On entry this is  soft and broad though not lacking acidity. there is a lovely backdrop of vegetal notes to the rich  red cherry fruit of the palate which also recalls Oregon’s Pinot.  Cleansing and medium bodied and all about freshness of fruit on the palate, this finishes a bit short with crisp red currant flavors. 88pts

Bottled fifteen days ago, six months in botte
Very tight on the nose with gentle spice and floral aromas. With, a little spritz on the palate, this is rather soft and round and lacks some of the focus one might like to see in Barbera. There’s lots of flannelly rich fruit, , long on the palate and sweetly plummy then tart. Air brings out lots of fresh cut plums on the nose as well. This is rather in a rich and silky style with a long tart red plum finish and some  powdery tannins. It’s very early to being trying this but it does show promise. 88pts

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Top Barbera Tasted 5/13

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Clerico Barbera d'Alba Trevigne (2010)
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  • Snooth User: wino67
    68948 3

    Barbera aficionados owe it to themselves to seek out Case Corini's La Barla bottling. Lorenzo Corino's wines truly are an epiphany of what can be done with the grape. Good like finding it though...

    Sep 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM

  • Greg I love your passion for the Italians. I've been making Barbera from the Livermore Valley since 2003. Embrace the acidity but tame it- yes, yes, yes. Need to hang that fruit longer to metabolize the acids but you will surely develop very ripe flavors and high sugar. I like to throw a pretty good amount of new oak on it and age longer- that acid preserves it and will integrate nicely - and the sweet new oak flavors (along with the sweetness of high alcohol) help balance the acidity. My favorite varietal if done well... -Chris Graves, Winemaker, Rubino Estates Winery & Ruby Hill Winery

    Sep 26, 2013 at 8:27 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,482

    Chris, your comment, above, inspired me to check out your winery's web site. Having had a similar experience I loved the comment about your Sierra Foothills Barbera epiphany. I am planning on attending the "Pinot Throwdown for West Coast Snoothers 2013" on October 26. (If you are unaware, check out the conversation over on the Snooth Forum at .) Since I'll be in the neighborhood, I will try to check out Rubino. The Italian Seafood Boil sounds wonderful. I wish I could be around for that.

    Sep 27, 2013 at 2:25 PM

  • EMark, glad you enjoyed my comments and hope to see you soon at Rubino. My 2010 Barbera Livermore Valley Reserve is a great example to a well balanced, rich Barbera- if I do say so myself. I hope you enjoy.

    Busy crushing otherwise I would love to attend the Pinot Throwdown. I definately love my Pinots- particularly from the Santa Lucia Highlands... my favorite right now...

    Oct 04, 2013 at 6:53 PM

  • Had a bottle of Barbera del Monferrato ( Marchesi di Barolo ) 2011 This was an excellant bottle of wine. I could not believe it was 10.99 found it in Manahawkin, Nj just outside Long Beach Island. A must have Bottle !

    Oct 10, 2013 at 8:29 PM

  • Snooth User: JenniferT
    Hand of Snooth
    1277765 1,036

    Could someone please clarify the relationship between alcohol content and acidity? How is a gram of acidity defined? (Isn't acidity pH?). Acidity is a word that is thrown around a lot but I just realized that I don't know what it truly means.

    Mar 08, 2014 at 3:28 PM

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