Week 20 – Barbera

Tasting Notes

We tasted: Barbera D’Asti De Forville 2016 at Majestic £13.99

Emma says: “Back to red this week and what a joyful return given we are tasting Barbera D’Asti. I often pick whites above reds as wines that perk me up after a long day, but Barbera is one of those reds that has all the attributes to revive me.

The one we chose certainly didn’t disappoint. The aroma is beautiful and pure, bursting with dark cherry and floral kitschy notes, plus a sweet herbal note like fresh cut tarragon. Then to taste it is so gentle and silky in texture, giving it an easy drinking appeal, especially when compared to other Italian reds that can be heavy and tannic. Plus that purity of fruit really lingers in its flavours, the high acidity in Barbera make them taste even fresher on the palate. Yet this isn’t a simple joy like a Valpolicella or Beaujolais. Barbera at this quality level has that bit more complexity, and this wine also had a bit of oak age that brought in more mocha sweet hints, plus a spicy dimension with a liquorice bite. This week has really reminded me that Barbera should be on my list of fine and elegant reds as much as a good Pinot Noir. I hope that everyone else enjoys its expression as much as me.

And for those who want a global picture of Barbera, it does grow in other countries, normally where Italian immigrants have settled; Argentina, California and Australia to name a few.  I have tried many in Argentina and find they really need to be at the high quality end to be worthwhile. Barbera is a very vigorous vine with high acidity and so it can be used to create big volume wines that are a bit tart in flavour. But the benefit of new world Barbera when it is good, is that the fruit can have a little more power and the acidity can provide it with a good balance; even in warm climate conditions. So get exploring.

A final note is that we had this with a meal of spicy grilled halloumi and giant couscous with roast vegetables. The Mediterranean flavours and spice seemed to work beautifully with the Barbera. I often find reds fight with spice flavoured dishes so this will definitely go on my food matching list for the future.”

Andy says: “Apologies for the delay in my notes on this one, it was a busy social week. Apologies also for the ‘Ba Ba Ba Ba Barbera Ann’ email, apparently it got into some of your heads. Hehehehe.

I’m told this wine has high acidity, and I think I might now be able to detect it. Emma has always told me that it ‘makes your cheeks water’, and I’m definitely feeling that sensation with this wine. There’s a slight puckering, and then you feel it release as your mouth salivates to balance the acid.

On the tannin front, I’d say they were virtually non existent. This wine is just smooth and goes down very (too) easily, with a mild warming from the acid. My fruit vocabulary is still limited, but if pushed I’d have to say that it reminds me most of blackcurrant, especially if you’ve ever tasted undiluted blackcurrant cordial. Possibly my favourite red so far.”

Buying Guide

Barbera is an Italian grape from the North East of Italy in Piedmont where the famous Barolo reds are also made. So head to the Italian red section and look for a wine with this grape name on the label. Typically it comes from two famous villages; Alba or Asti. Either one will work to taste along with us.

4 thoughts to “Week 20 – Barbera”

  1. Barbera is a go-to wine for me. As a result I went for a basic Sainsbury’s version in the hope of savings a few pounds to splash out on a good Chardonnay next week. It was a Barbera D’Asti 2016 by Scipione Giuliani from the Taste the Difference range (£6.25, 13.5%).

    The wine had a deep ruby colour and smelt of red berries with a bit of forest floor. It also had a faintly fizzy-feeling over-ripe strawberry thing. There was a touch of pepper too. Nice and I was impressed with the level of complexity for the price.

    It had a lovely velvety texture on the mouth. Medium(-) body and medium dry, nicely balanced with light tannin. The taste was of sharpish strawberries and cherries and had a slight mustiness (this wasn’t a bad thing, I just don’t know how better to describe it). The finish wasn’t bad either – bringing the acidity to the fore and a hint of pepper. Smooth, silky and well balanced.

    Nice, very quaffable and fantastic value for money. You could do worse things with £6.

  2. I don’t believe it but I chose the same wine that I opened & glugged a few days ago! I found it impressively delicious, Very ripe with deep cherry fruit, and a taut acidity that gave it real backbone. I’d love to say I got the herbal notes you commented on, but I didn’t, although I can see what you mean by liquorice. Definitely spicy though, which really lifted the fruit and gave the wine a wonderful bright dimension. This bottle had been sitting on my rack for a few months waiting for summer (or at least spring!) and I will most certainly buy it again. It’s not cheap but it still tasted like very good value for money, especially at Majestic’s £11.99 mix six price.

    1. Fiona – trust you to have such a delicious wine in your home rack. Nice notes, I hope that means you’ll join us on a few more weeks. I imagine you have a nice white Burgundy to hand for next week. Go on!

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