Barbera: Piedmont's Chameleon

An identity crisis yields confusion in the marketplace.

Two and a half  weeks of skin contact, two to three and a half of fermentation, then into barrique, 100% new, 14 months in barrique
Pretty fresh on the nose showing some oak though more fruit than oak. This smells fresh a touch woodsy and medicinally icy with a spicy vanilla overlay and some VA shoe polish over black plum fruit. Bright and fresh in the mouth with black and blue plum fruits laid out over vanilla laced base. The wood is obvious on the palate but this really is nicely done, a bit modern but the right weight and balance, zesty and richly fruited, with wood tannins popping a touch on the backend but fading away in balance with the fruit on the finish. A bit simple but very vinous. 88pts

1000 bottles, family wine
Earthy, wiry and coppery on the nose with a little baked fruit aroma. In the mouth this is broad, and surprisingly transparent with nice clarity to the fruit and with some late arriving acidity but this is on the soft side. It’s a lovely and complex wine with intense slIghtly cooked black berry fruit that has almost has a touch of sweetness on the finish backend coming from the alcohol. Good plus but not great, you can smell the dirt here. 88pts

Sandy soils lends brighter acidity, 7500 btls
All barrique at first, 35% new, then a year in botte
Sweet wood on the nose is quite pronounced with toasty spice followed by hints of a little fish sauce, a little gummy candy, a little sweet violet pastille, a little beef and some charry aromas. A bit unusual and tight but complex. Rich on entry this also shows a nice sweet/tart character in a rather red fruited way with bright juicy acids up front. Across the  mid palate one finds milky oak and late arriving wood tannins lending a very slightly chewy quality to the backend, which shows more toast than fruit. In its style this is  quite nice though  if it wasn’t for the acidity this could be a new world Barbera. 88pts

20000 bottles, lots of different plots
A little ash on the earthy black fruited nose which shows just a hint of something floral and stemmy. There’s lovely richness and acidity on entry here with a lean,  tense palate impression that shows a nice plum and blackish strawberry tone to the fruit and steely edged acids that drive the clean, lifted finish. I love the freshness and refreshing quality here. This is as classic as a pure expression of barbera gets. 87pts

SS only, six different vineyards in three different communes, Barolo, Serralunga, and Novello
a year and a half in SS
Very direct on the nose with a touch of earthy, savoriness along with a hint of prosciuttos and some shoe polish under dark fruits. Pure, easy, and somewhat low intensity in the mouth with nice acids supporting cut black fruits. There’s lovely integration here with black cherry skin flavors and  just a touch of late arriving peppery spice that lingers on the modest, violet tinged finish. A bit simple but pure fresh and eminently drinkable. 87pts

All in SS, eight days of fermentation
A bit wild and inky on the nose though this is darkly perfumed and spicy. Opening with nice acids this shows plenty of richness and perhaps a little sweetness from alcohol though it remains pretty well balanced in the mouth showing a nice mineral base note under lots of juicy blackberry and black cherry fruit that finishes with good length. A powerful barbera but it remains fruity and relatively fresh 87pts

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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 5,277

    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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