Description 1 of 2

Common synonyms: Besgano, Barbera e Raspo, Lombardesca, Perricone, Gaietto, Ughetta, Pignatello, Barberone

Parentage of the grape: indigenous to Piedmont, Italy
History of the grape: Barbera is a native to the Piedmont, where it has been growing for centuries, and is now the fourth most planted grape in all of Italy. 7th century Lombard historian, Paul the Deacon, wrote that the Lombard troops defeated the Franks at the Battle of Refrancore after getting them schnoggered on the local wine, which was likely Barbera. The jugs had been scattered all over the field and the Franks willingly drank from them, and lost their coordination. 13th century documents from the Casale Monferrato have details of leasing agreements for vineyards planted with “de bons vitibus barbexinis,” which is Barbera. In 1798 Count Novolune, the deputy director of the agrarian society of Turin, named Barbera as one of the grapes in his list of “Vitis vinifera Montisferratensis,” the grapes surrounding Monferrato, which is still one of its most important growing areas. Barbera was one of the first grapes replanted in significant quantities after the Phylloxera crisis in the late 1800s due to it’s simple growing requirements. 
The three main Barbera zones in the Piedmont have different characteristics.
-Barbera d’Alba wines are 100% of the varietal with a denser, darker quality, grown in steep slopes.
-Barbera d’Asti comes from lower terrain and is often blended with small percentages of Freisa, Dolcetto or Grignolino. The wines tend to be thinner and more acidic. Many of them have a bad reputation for this reason, however quality treatments with careful oak aging produce delicious results from some producers. The subzones of Colli Astiani, Nizza and Tinella have a minimum 2 years in oak requirement and are the wines from Asti look out for. 
-Barbera del Monferrato is the largest subzone. The wines are typically 85% Barbera with the other part being some percentage of Freisa or Grignolino. It is from here that some producers releases a slight frizzante style. They tend to be aged a minimum of 6 months in oak and a year in bottle before release. Usually a more aromatic style from the oak aging and blending.
Characteristics of the grape: ruby to dark red in color, high acidity, red plum, cherry, raspberry, black pepper, clove. The traditional Piedmont releases benefit from long bottle aging. Modern styles tend to be darker and fruitier with effects of oak treatment showing in the flavor. Oak treatment is often used to tame the flavors of the wine so it can be consumed at a younger age. 
Regions where the grape currently is important: Piedmont: Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato, Barbera d’Alba. Other parts of Italy: Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Sardinia. California ,Washington, Argentina, Slovenia, Australia, South Africa.
Type or types of wines the grape produces: ranges from light and thin to heavy and concentrated dry red, slightly spritzy ~Amanda Schuster
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

Once one of the most widely planted of California’s red varietals, Barbera, a native of northern Italy’s Piedmont region, has all but vanished there as a varietal-labeled wine. While Barbera's total acreage has dramatically declined in the best regions, it is still a stronghold blending grape for the ‘jug wines’ of the Central Valley. There, Barbera's ability to retain high natural acidity is an important contribution to the rather soft and sluggish wines from this hot bulk wine area. Those few still dabbling in varietal Barbera from moderate climates and coastal vineyards provide wine lovers with wonderful deeply-colored reds, with abundant fruit, lively acidity and refined tannins.

Miss Barbera, you amaze us with your work ethic. It must be engrained in your nature. You arrived in California with early immigrants from Italy, and haven’t stopped working the fields of the Central Valley since. You have no time for Hollywood parties. Little do people know that under the guise of a peasant country girl is a beautiful woman. You are rich in character, and given the chance can be quite the party girl … some might even think that you're a little tart. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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