Italy's most widely planted red wine grape, or at least tied for first with the Sangiovese grape. It is a native of Piedmont in north-western Italy, and most of the best Barbera wine comes from this region. The grape tends to produce wines with high acidity (so they're pretty dry), low tannins (so they're easy to drink), and nice berry fruit flavors (so they, well, taste a little like berries). Some high-quality Italian Barberas can be dark and dense, being built to age, but most are pretty good once you get them home from the liquor store. I've found that these are excellent wines to drink alongside meals with tomato sauces, including pizza.

There are three main DOCs for Italian Barberas: Barbera d'Alba (which have the best reputation), Barbera d'Asti, and Barbera di Monferato. Recent excellent harvests in Piedmont include 1996, 1997, and 1998, but not many recent before that. Barbera is also widely planted in California, where it is used primarily to blend with other wines, and Argentina, where I believe it's most often used to produce undrinkable swill.

Back to Rook's Wine Reviews