Barbera d’Asti Wine Region Guide

Beyond Nebbiolo: Discover Barbera d'Asti, Piedmont's Hidden Gem of Vinous Delight

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Last updated: June 20, 2024

Introduction

It is tempting to believe that Piedmont begins – and ends – with the Nebbiolo grape. Complex and capricious, this enigmatic variety is responsible for Italy’s most prestigious red wines: Barolo and Barbaresco. Yet, the region’s most planted red grape is actually Barbera, much loved by consumers and winemakers across northwestern Italy. It reaches an apogee in the beautiful hills of Asti, situated in the eastern half of the Piedmont region in Northern Italy.

Planted on calcareous soils rich in minerals, it yields a very seductive style of red: bold, concentrated, and eminently quaffable. Its dark fruit and juicy texture have made Barbera a firm favorite with sommeliers and buyers who wish to avoid the more expensive labels of Piedmont, wines for trophy hunters as opposed to foodies and oenophiles.

Moreover, it has been cultivated since the days of the Romans, when Italy stood at the head of a vast and sprawling Western Empire.

However, the wine establishment didn’t always love Barbera. For decades, people ignored the grape in favor of Nebbiolo and even Dolcetto, sold it for derisory prices, and left it to gather dust on shelves. It is Piedmont’s second most glamorous grape—chic and in high demand. Leave it to the Italians, skilled in the art of self-promotion, to turn Barbera’s reputation around.

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James lawrence

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