Drink like an Italian: Barbera?
What is Barbera and where does it come from? And most importantly, why does a Tuscan winemaker use it to make one of his favorite wines?
Let’s face it: Not a lot of folks in America know what Barbera is. They may know their Cabernet from their Chardonnay and maybe their Merlot from their Malbec. But in more cases than not, most American wine lovers have ever heard of Barbera.
In fact, Barbera (pronounced bahr-BEH-rah) is one of Italy’s most popular grape varieties. Especially in northern Italy, it’s a dinnertime favorite for people who enjoy light-bodied, food-friendly red wines.
The thing that sets Barbera apart is its high amounts of natural acidity.
Acidity, you ask with a sour face?
As harsh as the word sounds, acidity in wine is actually a good thing. It’s what gives wine its freshness and it’s one of the components in a balanced wine that helps to make it food-friendly.
Just as acidity in vinegar or lemon juice helps to “cook” food in marinades, acidity in wine helps to draw out the flavors in food pairings.
That’s just one of the reasons why Italians love it so much.
So why is a Tuscan winemaker in central Italy like Alessandro Bindocci, who is known for his Mazzoni Sangiovese-Merlot blend, making a Barbera using grapes grown in northern Italy?
He fell in love with Barbera during his travels across the north of Italy. But he was disappointed to discover that many winemakers prefer oaky and overly concentrated versions of Barbera wines. And so he decided that he would make Barbera the way that he likes it: in a clean and refreshing style, light bodied, with fresh fruit aromas and flavors.
His family partnered with grape growers in the Asti region northwestern Italy, where the most famous bottles of Barbera are produced.
And thus was born his delicious Mazzoni Piemonte (Piedmont) Barbera, one of the best and most value-driven bottles of Barbera available in the U.S. today.