Body: Light to medium (can be full)
Age: Drink while young and fresh, but more serious wines age well.
Barbera (bar-BER-ah) is a good quality Italian grape variety that is planted widely across the country. It performs best in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, where it is has been referred to as the ‘people’s wine’ due to its abundant productivity.
It is a relatively late ripening grape and its chief characteristic is it high acidity, which is maintained even when the grapes reach full ripeness. This is a much-appreciated aspect of Barbera and adds to its versatility from the winemaker’s perspective as it can be used to produce wines that range from fresh and spritzy to big and intense.
Traditionally it makes light to medium bodied wines that are deeply coloured, low in tannin and naturally high in acidity, making them bone-dry. They are refreshingly fruity, with aromas of red and black fruits, followed by flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry. In this Fruity style they are intended for early consumption, when they are at their liveliest and best. These are very typical Italian wines with a twist of acidity that makes them very food friendly.
More recently, modern production techniques have been combined with lower yields and barrel ageing to make richer, spicier, more full bodied, varietal wines such as Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti. These bigger wines exploit Barbera’s natural affinity for oak, which greatly increases the structure and complexity of the wine. These Smooth style Barberas are gaining in popularity and present a more serious side to this traditionally easy-going grape.
Interest in Barbera is increasing worldwide as it performs well in warm climates, retains its acidity and has a deep, rich color. All these attributes make Barbera particularly suitable for blending, as well as for producing good varietal wines.
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