Barbera has been troubled for some years. The trouble began with the success of Braida’s single vineyard bottling Bricco dell’ Uccellone in 1982, which reshaped the image of Barbera by showing the concentration it could achieve with south-facing planting in high quality sites and ageing in Barrique. Barbera’s unmanipulated self has almost no tannin – its structure relying entirely on tannin.
After Braida’s innovation, many producers now make Barbera with oak to create tannic structure and increase ageability. Many of these new-style Barberas are unpleasant and over-heavy. Many ‘naturalists’ have utterly panned the wines are marred by poorly understood and used barrique. In my view, that reaction is too extreme, and Braida’s famous single vineyard bottling the perfect challenge to the hatred.
The Bricoo dell’Uccellone is grown in a vineyard well-suited to Barbera in an Asti town called “Rocchetta Tanaro”. The vineyard comprises sandy calcareous soils. It is made with 20 day temperature controlled maceration, indigenous ferments, and then 15 months ageing in 225l barriques.
Barbera is often completely boring and better replaced with a good value Sangiovese or Dolcetto. That said, a few exceptions in both styles exist. This Braida is a winner for the concentrated style. Expect dark cherry fruit, earth, considerable aromatics, fresh acids ,excellent balance and integration of both oak and alcohol. I paired the wine with Ecuadorian Adobo Chicken – it worked wonderfully well.
~$100 at Marquis Wine Cellars