It’s happening again: another massive/historical/life-changing/ DON’TLEAVETHEHOUSE blizzard is coming to the east coast. Fine with me, since Nemo’s bascially just a perfect excuse to hole up inside with tons of wine!
Here at the grapefriend bunker, we’re always fully stocked. So what am I gonna pop open? Despite the fact that you could go with something from an icy place, like snow-capped Alto Adige or Canadian ice wine, it’s sort of a must to go with red. Especially if you’re not fireside, leave it to a great red to warm your insides.
Tonight, we’re going Italian 1) because my friend is making lasagna and 2) because I have to sample them for a story I’m writing for Cosmo. Let it first be known that Italian wines are not my faves by any stretch. I pretty much loathe Sangiovese. I do love a good Barolo, but my bank account doesn’t. But occasionally I find myself at an Italian restaurant and forced to pick a wine, and I’ve always found a Barbera really nice. They’re pretty easy drinkers – or to put it another way, someone once described it to me as “the wine you can drink the shit out of.” Not the most delicate description, but totally accurate and a lot more fun.
Barbera’s are full of acidity so they’re great with all those tomato-sauce-based dishes. It’s the third most-planted red grape in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano) and mostly found in Piedmont. You’ve got your Barbera d’Alba (from the Alba province) and Barbera d’Asti (from Asti). Asti’s are generally more lively and acidic, and at least 85% Barbera. The Alba’s are 100% Barbera and usually fuller and plumper.
I’m doing a taste-off with an Alba, an Asti, and a Barbera from Amador County in California:
Marziano Abbona Barbera d’Alba 2011 $25
Great black cherry on the finish, with a hint of pine and some violets. Dry and tart. This one actually had more acid that the Asti, which was odd since everyone says the Asti’s have more. That’s why you gotta sample for yourself!
Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti 2010 $16
The smell of bright, fresh red and black cherry just POPS. But also has a huge presence of earth and leaves, with a hint of pine. Nice flavor but so dry, almost tart. Very little tannin though, so it’s smooth with light-medium body and light-medium acid.
Wayyyy fruitier. The warmer climate in California will give you that ripe, deep fruit (in this case, black cherry). Also has a hint of dark wet fresh soil. It’s got a darker, like the Alba. Medium acid with a long finish of lush cherry.
Stay dry, grapefriends – but only in the weather sense!
Hmmm, nice way to wait out the storm, an nice choice of producers 🙂
I am sorry to hear you do not enjoy Italian wine. I think Italy has a lot to offer from a wine standpoint and a treasure chest of indigenous grape varieties, many of which can only be found there. Italy is not only Nebbiolo and Sangiovese (although personally I think there is nothing wrong with those either!) – as you know, there’s many good grapes out there, from Lagrein to Aglianico, Sagrantino to Aglianico, Corvina to Nero d’Avola, Lacrima to Cannonau, just to name a handful of reds. Then clearly, as in most things, it is a question of selecting the right producers, but it looks like you are very well equipped to do that!
I do love Aglianico! Most of the other grapes just aren’t my favorites… Not all horrible, but I usually prefer others. just my personal palate, to each their own!