Barbera and Champagne / tonight we drink, / to our pain / together we celebrate / with your glass of Barbera / with my glass of Champagne (Giorgio Gaber)
If you had to identify an Italian native grape in which tradition, territory, and versatility join in perfection, it would definitely be Barbera. The standard Italian countryside grape, for too long considered less than noble, over the years Barbera has become the benchmark for lovers of the native variety this side of the Alps. Indeed Barbera has the ability of being able to interpret every territory in an extremely varied and harmonious way, while still preserving that soft, gentle, caressing vein that makes it a summer and jovial wine but at the same time full and rich even for the most demanding palate.
As a wine used for blending, to soften harder and more robust vines, or the perfectly convivial sparkling wine, Barbera has become the grande dame of native varieties in Northwest Italy. Winemakers tied to this grape have consecrated it in all its potentials, with slower and prolonged macerations, and especially with aging in steel or even wood thus giving the modern Barbera a surprising personality, to say the least. Today, the increasingly more accurate selection of grapes also gives Barberas grace and charm, and makes them sometimes full and opulent, but always brilliant and exceptionally drinkable. Robust in Alba, agile in Asti, austere in Monferrato, daring in Tortona and lively in Oltrepò: whatever it is, Barbera is still today an easy-to-love wine, incredibly easy to drink even when, just taken out of the most illustrious cellars after months and months of evolution, it has achieved unparalleled character and warmth.
Fresh and crisp but always endowed with a pleasant softness and good body, Barbera is perhaps the most representative native Italian vine, the one that leads itself most naturally to be combined with the regional gastronomy of Italy. It is magnificently expressed in Piedmont, between Langhe, Astigiano and Monferrato , where it is a bit overshadowed by the very noble Nebbiolo: there was once a time when here the two grapes shared the best plots, now largely reserved only for the "boss". And yet Barbera scope is broadening both drunk during meals, including the sparkling variety, and as a great still wine for tasting, especially if it comes from crus like those of Nizza Monferrato, which are historically suited to the vine. Stories, in fact, that, like those of Giacomo Bologna, progenitor of Braida, led, with tenacity and foresight, Barbera to the top of the Piedmontese quality pyramid. Extraordinary Barberas, both fragrant and of excellent structure, are also created between Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia, from Tortona all'Oltrepò up to the Colli Piacentini. An area that is perhaps less known, being as it is traditionally focused on blends, but which is able to churn out a very territorial and charming pure Barbera, sometimes a classic, like Walter Massa or Cigognola.