Barbera d’Asti Fighting Above Its Weight Class

Italy’s Piedmont region has to be of the most respected red wine producing regions in the world. It’s here where greatness is not defined by any one variety or blend. The three main varieties of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto provide the raw materials for a wide range of reds that suit any occasion, price point or food pairing. While nebbiolo earns most the credit for the region’s reputation as the birthplace of Barolo and Barbaresco, the more accessible grapes of dolcetto and barbera make up the more everyday reds that the locals drink.

Barbera may seem like the middle child of the Piedmont family when viewed through its price point and age-worthiness. Often compared to merlot for its fruit forward supple nature, the grape may have gotten a reputation for its simplicity and easy-going demeanor. While this may generally have some truth to it, there are quite a few examples of barbera where it reaches greater levels of complexity, depth and power.

Pico Maccario’s Lavignone Barbera D’Asti 2011 is just one example of the grape outperforming its expectations and weight class. Out of the bottle this wine is brooding in color and texture, with an inky appearance and substantial viscosity. On the nose it’s all ripe sweet fruit aromas reminiscent of cherry and plum with a touch of warm baking spices that add some complexity and character. On the palate there’s no indication that this is merely a “food wine” as its fleshy mouth-feel is completely full enough to enjoy as a sipping wine.

Even with its weight, the flavors stay fresh on the palate thanks to a vibrant acidity that alludes to citrus zest. Wine Spectator called this 90 point wine a “best buy” and we couldn’t agree more, especially for $16.

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