La Spinetta Ca’ Di Pian Barbera D’Asti 2006
Piedmont lovers tend to be fanatical about that region’s most renowned grape, nebbiolo – and for good reason. Nebbiolo produces some of the world’s greatest “monster” wines that still retain freshness and beauty after 20 years. However, for me, the great underbelly of Piedmont is not nebbiolo, but barbera. Barbera can make simple quaffable wine, certainly. And, most people’s experience with it is likely of this variety. However, barbera can also make profoundly complex and yet fruity wines that have an ability to pair with food that, in my opinion, far surpasses nebbiolo.
Don’t let my rant suggest that barbera can make wine as timeless and profound as nebbiolo. However, it can make wine that is truly outstanding and often overlooked. Perhaps this is because barbera is Piedmont’s most widely planted grape, and tends to sit as simple dinner wine on every table in the region. Further, barbera rarely receives the level of treatment that nebbiolo gets, and so the meticulous time and effort that can make barbera great often doesn’t take place. Luckily there are a few producers who take barbera seriously, La Spinetta being one of them, and it is these producers that show the stupendous quality of wine that the simple barbera grape can produce.
Another important point to consider is the difference between the two main regions for barbera, Asti and Alba. Asti tends to have younger vines than Alba and therefore the wines produced here are often simpler and juicier. If you want the truth depth of barbera, you have to go to Alba. That said, this is a fantastic barbera d’asti with a nose of wood spice, orange peel, blackberry and a hint of licorice. The palate is fruity and bright with excellent tannin structure along with cherry, blackberry, and oak spice. Underlying this are soft earthy tones that round this out as a sumptuous dinner wine that provides a level of quality far beyond your basic barbera. Grab yourself a bottle and see what barbera can do.
$40 at BCLDB