Last week the Vintage Wine Tasters gathered to blind taste 11 Barbera wines. Vintage Wine Taster Bruce did a yeoman’s job on researching, tasting, and selecting the final wines for the event. We tasted in two flights, six Barbera wines from Italy and five Barbera wines from California.
First a few general words about Barbera wines. The Barbera grape is grown widely in the Piemonte area of northwest Italy, in the land where Barolo and Barbaresco are kings. The wine is medium bodied with few tannins and good acidity. In the Piemonte area, Barbera wine is standard fare with tomato-based seafood and pasta dishes and, of course, pizza. It’s also an affordable wine, so its often the choice for drinking on a daily basis.
Few wineries in California make a Barbera wine and most of those are in the Sierra Foothill regions. If you can’t make a wine-country trip to Italy, you can head up to the Gold Country town of Sutter Creek. From Sutter Creek you can make your way to many a winery that make delicious Barbera wines. See Sierra Foothill wineries.
Here are the results of our Barbera blind wine tasting in the order that we ranked them for each flight.
Italian Barbera Wines
- 2011 Renato Ratti Barbera d’ Alba $18.99 Weimax
- 2011 Cascina Val del Prete “Serra de Gatti” Barbera d’Alba $17.99 K&L
- 2009 Fratelli Ponte Barbera d’ Asti Superiore $10.99 Weimax
- 2009 Oddero Barbera d’Alba (Elsewhere $20+) $14.99 K&L
- 2010 Massolino Barbera d’ Alba $24.99 Weimax
- 2010 Elio Altare Barbera d’ Alba $26.99 Weimax
California Barbera Wines
- 2010 Sobon Estate Barbera Plymouth, CA, Amador County $14 K&L
- 2009 Boeger Barbera (Placerville, El Dorado County) $15.99, Lunardi’s
- 2010 Montevina Barbera Terra d’ Oro Winery – Plymouth, Amador County $12 shipped from the winery. BevMo carries the 2009 for $9.
- 2010 Jacuzzi Barbera Mendocino County $25 shipped from winery (elsewhere around $16.)
- 2010 Palmina Santa Barbara County Barbera $20.99 K&L
The Renato Ratti Barbera was a good leap ahead of the pack on the Italian side of the tasting and is a very good deal at $18.99 at Weimax. Perhaps the best bargain wine in the bunch is the 2009 Fratelli Ponte also available at Weimax for $10.99. On the California side, the Sobon was light in style with even some floral character mixed in with cherry flavors. It is a very nice food-friendly wine at a terrific price point.
Try a Barbera with your next Pizza Margherita. Wonderful match!
Our next tasting event will pit California against Oregon in a battle of Pinot Noir wines. This is our annual splurge tasting. At each meeting, every member contributes money to a fund for this event. That means we will be tasting Pinot Noir wines ranging from $30 to $60. We also hold a dinner at Rocca’s in Burlingame where owner Hadji sets us up for the tasting. Afterwards we retreat upstairs for dinner. Any Pinot Noir suggestions?