Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba: Fresh, Fruity and Outstanding Value

The Barbera grape variety is high yielding, relatively easy to grow, and makes fresh tasting fruity, high acid wines.  Thought to have originated in Italy’s Piedmont region, today it’s grown throughout the world.  However, it’s still mostly grown in Italy where the best Barbera comes from the Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba appellations.  While it doesn’t have the lofty reputation (and price) of the Nebbiolos grown in Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbera offers excellent value. And when grown with reduced yields and fermented and matured in barriques it can produce a wine of considerable depth and complexity. In this article, we review several Barberas from the Piedmont, ranging in style from light and fruity to dark and layered.  In general, they offer excellent value and beautiful pairing with the lighter cuisine that is becoming increasingly popular. 

The Wines

Abonna 2018 Rinaldi Barbera d’Alba ($25) 90 Dark ruby. Bright dark plum, dried plum, cherry and huckleberry show on the nose and palate. Medium weight with ripe fruit, good balancing acidity, and a medium long finish. Rather high alcohol. 15% alc. Importer: Regal Wine Imports

Andrea Oberto 2018 Barbera d’Alba ($20) 90  Dark ruby. Dark red fruit with prominent savory notes show on the nose. Nicely balanced on a fresh, clean, medium weight palate. Lovely red fruit flavors, easy drinking, and a long finish. 14.5% alc. Importer: Regal Wine Imports

Enrico Serafino 2017 Pajena Barbera d’Alba ($17) 91  Opaque ruby. Powerful bouquet of dark red fruit with hints of toasted spice and chocolate. Big on the palate with loam dark fruit flavors; excellent balance with good acidity and a persistent finish. Exceptionally good for the price! Sourced from sandy loam vineyards within the Roero DOCG and aged 15+ months in barriques and larger oak casks. 13.5% alc. Importer: Dalla Terra 

Franco Serra 2018 Barbera d’Alba ($13) 88  Opening with faint aromas of earthy, light red fruit, this entry level Barbera d’Alba is an easy drinking, light bodied and modestly flavored wine. It could pass for an Italian rosso. 13% alc.  Importer: Scoperta

Franco Serra 2018 Barbera d’Alba Superiore ($16) 89+  Medium dark ruby. A pretty wine with earthy notes and hints of red berries on the nose. Soft and mouth filling with flavors of dried plum, round tannins, and a persistent finish. Aged in large oak barrels for one year. 13.5% alc.  Importer: Scoperta

Franco Serra 2018 Barbera d’Asti ($11) 90  Medium dark red. The Barbera d’Asti offers outstanding value. There’s appealing red fruit aromas and an attractive, concentrated attack of red and dried red fruit on the palate. Lovely balance, too. 13.5% alc.  Importer: Scoperta

Franco Serra 2018 Barbera d’Asti Supeiore ($12) 90  Medium dark red. A delicious, easy drinking wine that offers incredible value. Attractive soft, silky texture with good balance and dark plum with earthy notes. Finishes long with lingering flavors. 13.5% alc. Importer: Scoperta

Le Croci 2017 Barbera d’Asti Superiore ($15) 91  Dark ruby red. Begins with attractive scents of dark plum and toasted oak that are mirrored on the palate with complicating savory notes. Silky mouth feel with good acidity, dense fresh fruit, firm tannins and a persistent finish. Outstanding value! Aged 12 months in oak. 14% alc.  Importer: Scoperta

Malvira 2017 Barbera d’Alba 91  Dark ruby red. Effusive savory, earthy and rich black and red fruit. Smooth and silky on the attack with a full, broad palate of concentrated dark earthy fruit. Rich extract on a prolonged finish. 14.5% alc.  Importer: Indigenous Selections 

Michele Chiarlo 2017 Le Orme Barbera d’Asti ($17) 89  Ruby-purple. Shows a fruity, vibrant bouquet of huckleberry and plum with subtle herbal scents. There’s a lively interplay between fruit and acidity on a balanced palate with fine grained tannins that lend just enough spine on a lingering finish. 13.5% alc   Importer: Kobrand Corporation  

Monchiero 2016 Barbera d’Alba Superiore ($16) 88  Dark red. With an understated, savory nose, this medium concentrated Barbera d’Alba reveals plum and dark cherry fruit with earthy/herbal notes. Finishes dry with lingering earth notes. 14.5% alc.  Importer: Scoperta

Punset 2018 Barbera d’Alba ($18) 90  The Punset Barbera d’Alba offers pure plum and red berry fruit on a tangy, clean palate. While light bodied, this is a well made and balanced wine with good concentration and a firm structure. There’s a touch of astringency on the finish. 14% alc. Importer: Regal Wine Imports

Rinaldi 2017 La Bricca Barbera d’Asti ($17) 91 Huckleberry, blueberry and blackberry show on the nose and are mirrored on the palate. This is a mouth filling, well balanced palate. Very fresh with good depth and length. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in oak for 12+ months. 14% alc. Outstanding value! Sourced from 20 ha of estate vineyards in the hills of Alto Monferrato, close to Acquit Terme, in the heart of one of the Southern Piedmont’s special growing areas.  Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils

Terzetto 2018 Barbera d’Asti Superiore ($12) 90 Medium red. A delicately styled Barbera with aromas of red berries and earth and light red fruit on the attack with vibrant acidity. It offers a soft attack, an easy drinking style, good balance, round tannins, and a persistent finish. Matured in oak; 13.5% alc. Outstanding value.  Importer: Scoperta

Tibaldi 2018 Barbera d’Alba ($22) 89  Dark ruby. Lovely sweet red plum and cherry scents introduce this fresh, vibrant Barbera. The attack is bright with a dry mid-palate, noteworthy red fruit and a firmly tannic, long finish. An attractive, fairy priced Barbera d’Alba. 14.5% alc. Importer: Regal Wine Imports 

Vietti 2018 Trevigne Barbera d’Alba ($28) 91  Medium ruby red. Ripe red and black fruit aromas and flavors are complemented by savory, earthy herbal notes. The Trevigne Barbera d’Alba is beautifully balanced with a silky texture, concentrated flavors, and a long flavorful finish with round tannins. From 35 year old vines in Monforte, Castiglione Balletto and Castiglione Tinella. Matured in a mix of Slavonian and French oak and stainless steel tanks. 14.5% alc.  Importer: Dalla Terra 

Vietti 2018 Trevigne Barbera d’Asti ($18) 92  A complete wine–complex, layered, and balanced. Savory aromas are complemented by dark red fruit. Soft on the attack and dense on the palate revealing ripe flavors, perfect acidity, and beautiful overall structure. A very fine wine. Sourced from three vineyards in the Grand Cru area of Asti, two parcels of the La Crena vineyards and one parcel adjacent to La Crena. Matured 14 months in a mix of French and Slavonian barrels. 14% alc.  Importer: Dalla Terra 

Vietti 2017 Vigna Scarrone Barbera d’Alba ($47) 93  The Vigna Scarrone is opaque with a spicy nose of dark fruit accented by loamy earth. This is a blockbuster Barbera, big on the attack and very concentrated, slightly brooding, with lush, juicy fruit and big round tannins. From an organically farmed, 30 year old, single cru vineyard in Castiglione Falletto.  Importer: Dalla Terra

Vietti 2017 La Crena Barbera d’Asti ($47) 94  Our favorite of the Vietti Barberas, the La Crena is elegant with a creamy attack and silky texture. Layered showing dark fruit, loamy earth and a hint of tobacco finishing very long with wonderful ripe tannins. From the organically farmed La Crena vineyard, planted in 1932, in the commune of Agliano Terme in the Monferrato hills south of Asti. Full malo. Matured in French barriques and Slavonian casks. 14.5% alc.   Importer: Dalla Terra 

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