To me, Barbera always brings back memories of slices of steaming hot pizza, gooey with cheese, loaded with mushroom, sausage and maybe caramelized onion… Or, perhaps a nice slab of Lasagna Bolognese, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano and crushed red pepper… the point is, Barbera is about simple pleasures. For years I remember buying cases of sub-$10 Barbera and serving it as my house red – infinitely quaffable with no pretense except to please.
Well, it turns out that Barbera has, in a phrase, grown up. Somewhere along the way, Barbera producers got serious and decided they were going to produce wine for a more discerning palate. Giacomo Grimaldi is a small, family run winery in Langhe, Piedmont that, since 1930 has been producing some of the finest the region has to offer. Known for holding their wines for extended periods, Grimaldi’s Barolo wines are among the best. Similar care is taken with the Barbera wines from Grimaldi.
Grimaldi’s Barbera grapes are sourced from three vineyards located in Monteforte d’Alba, Barolo and Novello. The soils are primarily calcareous clay, which promotes a strong minerality in the wine. Vinification is in stainless steel with an extended maceration of 5 to 6 days, giving the wine a dark, deep ruby hue. Temperature control preserves the more delicate floral notes of the varietal and Malolactic fermentation softens the wine’s structure. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 9 months before bottling – no use of oak gives the wine a clean, fruit-forward style.
Make no mistake, this is serious Barbera, but it is youthful and fun as well. I tasted the wine over two days, with nothing but a cork in place over night and it was magnificent. I actually enjoyed the wine more on day two – it had shed some of its reticence and blossomed into quite the seductress.
My tasting note:
Bright, cherry nose with rose petal, mineral and anise hints. Medium-bodied with firm acidity and moderate, dry tannin – good balance. Sour cherry, tart with tarry, herbaceous notes. The wine really evolves with some time, showing a nice dark core of fruit and some bittersweet chocolate flavors. Moderate length, starts out tight but shows real potential as the wine breathed. Drinking well now and should improve over the next 3 to 5 years.
At an average bottle price of $23.99 before the discount, this wine is not exactly cheap, but it is very respectable Barbera with serious pedigree!