Barbera, the red-headed step child of Italian descent! Yes that is how many people view Barbera wine. Yet the pedigree goes back to the 7th century as compared to the relatively “new comer” Cabernet Sauvignon which dates only to the 17th century. The production of Barbera is primarily in Italy boasting about 83% of worldwide vines. The United States accounts for the second largest production of approximately 11% and is found primarily in the Sierra Foothills, Central Valley and Santa Barbera areas. The small balance can be found in Australia and Argentina. Barbera was at one time the third most planted grape in Italy behind Sangiovese and Montepulciano.
If the aristocratic Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of Varietals, then Barbera is “wine of the people”. In northern Italy, especially in Piedmont, it does not get the same respect as Nebbiolo with prime real estate. Barbera is grown in the low slopes and valleys. Often very good Barbera can be obtained for a fraction of the price of a vintage Nebbiolo. Thus the early years of Barbera was known as a “jug wine”. When immigrants coming to the United States often desired an inexpensive wine and Barbera filled the demand. Barbera is meant to be enjoyed young with intense aromas of cherries and blackberries.
This Stevenot Barbera Gran Reserva possess a typical profile. On the eye the color is a deep crimson and medium heavy body. On the nose and palate, dark cherry, blackberries and a hint of strawberry waffles into the olfactory receptors and then the mouth discerns spices of vanilla and mild black licorice. What makes Barbera unique are the low tannins but high acidity. This makes it easy to pair with just about any meat dish, pasta or herbaceous cheeses like blue cheese.
This was a delightful wine and could easily be denoted, using a baseball term, as an all-star utility player for your cellar.