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Apr 21, 2018

A grape that MUST be in your arsenal, especially if you like Italian food, Barbera is diverse, food friendly, and darn tasty. The trick to the grape is to figure out the style you like and the place it's made. In this podcast we cover it all!



  • Barbera is one of Italy's top 5 most planted grapes, one of the 15 most planted in the world!
  • 60%+ is in Piemonte, but it's found in almost every region
  • We have no real idea of the parentage, but we know it's not related to the other Piedmont grapes...a strange anomaly that needs more investigation! 


About the Grape

  • Large bunches, oval, very dark blue berries – darkest of all the reds of Piemonte 
  • Productive, ripens late, can get out of control quickly so pruning is a must.
  • Even at high yields it tastes ok because of its acidity
  • Drought resistant, versatile in many soil types, adaptable


The Wine

  • The best are bright with good acid, cherry notes, earth, spice, low tannins
  • With barrel age the wine can be plummy, round, softer and more complex -- oak can "beef up" the wine
  • Barbera is a good blender but on its own can be tasty although it needs food
  • There is A LOT of variety in winemaking and character
  • Producers: Great producers of Barolo and Barbaresco make good Barbera
    • Giacomo Conterno, Braida, Marchesi Gresy, Vietti, Paolo Scavino,  Giuseppe Mascarello, La Spinetta, Gaja
    • Famed wine: Bricco dell'Uccellone





  • Barbera d’Asti and Barbera Monferrato Superiore DOCG, up to 15% Freisa, Grignolino, Dolcetto. Asti – Barbera is queen 
    • Nizza is the top wine – 100% Barbera, strict rules
    • Lighter in color than other appellations in Piedmont
    • Unofficial Classico region – between Nizza Monferrato, Vinchio, Castelnuovo Calcea, Agliano, Rocchetta, Belveglio – Barbera’s traditional best zone
  • Barbera d’Alba DOC
    • Smoother, richer, velvety Barbera – complex, powerful, dark in color
    • Alba is popular because good winemkaers are here – best Barolo is made here and those winemakers also make Barbera
    • limits the quality and quantities of the wines labeled with the Barbera d'Alba DOC. 
  • Barbera del Monferrato DOC
    • Barbera is blended with up to 15% Freisa, Grignolino, Dolcetto and can be slightly sparkling
    • Tart, fruity, light, sharp acidity, can be frizzante , not in the market
  • Lombardia: Oltrepo Pavese, some blended with Bonarda.  Usually good acidity, good with full food
  • Emilia-Romagna: often blended with other stuff


Other regions:

  • California
    • First planted in 1880s
    • Today: Bonny Doon in Central Coast, Peterson in Sonoma, many producers in Sierra foothills/Amador County, Lodi, Napa, Paso, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Central Valley
  • Other US: Washington, Arizona, Oregon
  • Australia:
    • Barossa
    • Top producers: Brown Brothers, Crittenden
  • Argentina: 
    • Mendoza makes good Barbera, used for blending
  • Greece, Israel, Uruguay


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