I quite like Barbera….though I think there might be some slightly fruity bridge in my grey matter that links the variety to Jane Fonda’s finest role as a perspex-bosomed space vixen….something that had quite an effect on me in my youth.
It’s a vixen in the vineyard to, is Barbera….vigorous and high-yielding…always threatening overcropping if it is not kept in check through fastidious vineyard management. High yields = bad barberella…damn!…Barbera….as the varieties high acidity tends to be accentuated to near Spinal Tap levels. The variety is thought to have originated in Piedmonte through the hills of Monferrato. DNA profiling suggests that the variety may be a relative of Mourvedre and it remains Italy’s third most planted dark-berried vine, after Sangiovese and Montepulciano.
The Azienda Agricola Giovanni Rosso has farmed the hillsides around Serralunga d’Alba since the 1890’s before starting to bottle under their own label in 1995. It’s a small 12ha estate, renowned for their Barolo’s and the featured in a recent Decanter magazine article where Roberto Conterno of the famed estate, Giacomo Conterno, noted that Giovanni Rosso was one of the “Stars of Tomorrow”.
The vineyard sources for this particular ine are as follow: – Damiano, Costa Bella, Cerretta, Valle del Mondo and Roddino…..the age of the vines varies between 5 – 55 years of age depending on the vineyard.
The wines are traditional….the approach in the vineyard is organic….in the cellar we are talking wild yeast ferments in cement vats without any temperature control with the fermentation taking 18-21 days with regular delestages (rack & return) and twice daily plunging of the cap. Post ferment, elevage for this particular wine takes place in large 25 hL French oak casks for 12 months before bottling without fining or filtration.
Deep purple/red in hue with tight, fruit aromas that show pleasing purity and drive. Smells of blackberry and black cherry predominately with a dash of blackcurrant sitting in the background with a flash of blueberry lift. There’s hints of licorice, rosemary, thyme and oregano with lighter notes of spice, leather, dried flowers and tobacco leaf.
The initial flow onto the palate is quite tautly shaped, then the fruit characters start to swell….not overly expressive though as they are kept in check by a porcelain-like vase of sapid acidity. Again flavours of rich black cherry and blackberry dominate as the wine drives energetically onto the mid-palate where hints of scattered herbs, spice, leather and licorice make their voices heard. There are also lighter notes of pipe tobacco, dried flowers and a sprinkle of pepper.
There is vibrancy and verve here….the acidity is quite high giving the wine a snappy gait across the palate, the tannins, while not overbearing are sandy and tight-grained giving the wine an assertive form. The finish….while not overly long or complex is sapid and flavoursome and yells noisily for a substantial bowl of pasta and the company of good friends.
Price: $45 – Closure: Pro-Cork – Alcohol: 14% – Source: Sample – Importer: Andrew Guard Wine Imports