Last time we took a look at Barbera, a wine that hasn't gotten the respect it deserves. And, I mentioned that my first exposure to Barbera was a real eye-opening experience.
Unfortunately, in California, the Barbera grape has predominately been used in the production of mass-produced jug wines in the past. So, it's no surprise that Barbera has gotten a bad reputation.
But, that's changing. Regions throughout California are now producing some very nice Barbera wines, especially the Sierra Foothills, Amador County, Shenandoah Valley and El Dorado Counties in northern California.
But, Barbera has its origins in another famous wine region of the world - Italy. Barbera is actually one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy. It is a common table wine in the Piedmont region, where it is often referred to as the "wine of the people" because it is plentiful and, yes, cheap.
Even in the famous Piedmont wine region of Italy, Barbera is overshadowed by the Nebbiolo and Dolcetto wines. But, Italian Barbera has a lot of very positive traits. So much so that it's even been referred to as the "poor man's Pinot Noir." That's because Barbera from Italy has traditionally been lighter in body with bright fruity flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Sound familiar? It should, because if you know Pinot Noir, you know that it too has those same red-fruit flavor profiles.
So, look for Barbera from Italy. You're likely to see it from various regions labelled as Barbera d' Asti, Barbera d' Alba and Barbera del Monferrato. But don't confuse these great Italian Barbera wines with Barbaresco. It may sound similar, but that's a wine made from the Nebbiolo grape.
Whether it's from Italy or California, or any other region of the world, give a Barbera a try. It's well worth it. Cheers!