We here at Heritage Oak Winery finished out our celebration of California Wine Month with a Barbera Tasting. The topic of the day (days actually — we did it on a Saturday and a Sunday), and the tasting, was all about Barberas so in addition to being tasty, it was a whole lotta fun! Heck, I even learned a coupla things.
We were really fortunate to have four Barberas made from grapes all from the same vineyard — Leland Noma’s vineyard southeast of town. The four Lodi wineries making Barberas from Leland’s grapes were d’Art (2013), Jeremy (2014), Macchia (2014) and Heritage Oak (2014). Also, as part of the tasting we had an Italian Barbera, the home of Barbera (2014 Damiano barbera d’asti) and two from the Amador foothills (Cooper  and Dillian ).
It was amazing, but shouldn’t have been surprising, that the four wines made from Leland’s grapes all had a common element to them in that they all beautifully expressed what I, anyway, want, expect and enjoy about Barberas; rich, ripe, juicy fresh cherry aromas and flavors, great acid/fruit balance, low tannins yet a wonderfully full round mouth feel and just a tastiness that made you say “more, please.” All were really good. Even though similar, there were differences between the wines with some being a bit spicier or perhaps a little deeper in color. I’ll leave it up to you to get out and try these wines to determine which is which, and which suits your palate.
Barbera is known as a high-acid wine and indeed the Italian Barbera was high in acid and perhaps lacking in the robust flavors of those from Leland’s vineyard. I questioned Tom about this and his take is that Italy likely has a shorter growing season; hence the grapes do not get as ripe as they do here in Lodi, so less sugar and more acid. John Semas, another local grower, who attended one of the tastings, agreed that this is likely the case. I’d like to taste this Italian Barbera in about a year-and-half when the acid has had a chance to settle down and the fruit comes more to the forefront. Even so, this wine would pair excellently with a nice tomato-based pasta dish, right now.
And last, but not least, there were the two Barberas from Amador. Both were very deep in color and rich in flavor. The consensus from both the Saturday and Sunday tasting groups was that the Amador wines stood tall, were rich and yummy. The Amador wines were definitely in the “more, please” category.
All in all, the tastings were a lot of fun. It was truly an exploration into the concept of terroir – where, and how, a wine is grown will influence the final product. The four Lodi wines all showed very similar characteristics with subtle differences based on the winemakers’ preferences, the Italian wine with its higher acid being a great food wine right now that would likely mellow out as a year goes by and the Amador wine showing well and clearly demonstrating the difference brought about by elevation and different soil conditions found in the foothills as opposed to here in the valley. So get out, scarf up some of these wines, explore the difference and enjoy. Barbera, in its many variations, is a delightful wine.
I did a little research into Barberas in putting the tastings together. Here are a couple of varietal fun facts that I dug up:
· Barbera has long been considered a “wine of the people”.
· Barbera is an ancient wine. There are some vague references to Barbera being enjoyed in the 7th century.
· In 1798, Count Giuseppe Nuvolone-Pergamo of Scandaluzzo, deputy director of the Società Agraria di Torino (Agrarian Society of Turin) recorded that Barbera-based wines were well regarded for their rustic-yet-generous character.
· Barbera was a favorite among Savoyard army officers, who considered the wine a “sincere companion,” which helped them maintain their courage in battle.
· Barbera pairs beautifully with a wide variety of food, but seems to have a natural affinity for tomatoes, garlic and olives.
· Barbera has travelled the world most likely on the coat tails of Italian immigrants.
Barbera is all about fun and friends, yummy juicy flavors and the warmth of sunshine poured into a bottle. It is also a great way to explore terroir. So get out, grab some Lodi Barbera or some from other regions/counties and enjoy the moment, enjoy the wine.
- Posted by Jim Curtis
- On October 14, 2016
- 0 Comments