Last night I stumbled onto an import wine sale at a grocer in Sonoma County that specializes in close-outs. I spotted this Barbera from a very good vintage in Piemonte from top-notch Italian wine importer, Neil Empson, and figured that it might still be in good shape at seven years of age. This wine originally retailed for $35-40 and was priced at $3.99.
While I prefer my barberas younger with more buoyant fruit and little or no oak, this is an excellent example of a barrique-aged style at maturity. The acidity has preserved the wine well and it still has a lot of enjoyment to offer in a mellower package. This is one that you’ll want to buy a bottle to taste in the parking lot, then go back in and buy a case if you like it.
Here’s a detailed tasting note:
• Hazy ruby-garnet hue, clear at the rim
• Well-developed bottle bouquet, soaring tart-sweet raspberry aromas as soon as the cork is pulled, quickly revealing more earth and wood spices with aeration in the glass
• Well-integrated new French oak tones of vanilla and clove mingle with moderate intensity of raspberry fruit and white truffle notes in the mouth
• Mellow red fruit beginning to recede, dusty oak tannins and slight bitter chocolate in the medium-long finish
• Medium-light bodied, smooth on the palate
• High acidity but not as shrill and edgey as traditional styles, rounded by malolactic fermentation and aging in barrique
• Elevated alcohol, 14%, somewhat warm and spiritous in the finish
Overall impression: Slightly past prime with red fruit starting to pull back, yet held up well for three hours in the glass, and was even better overnight retaining its fresh acidity with the oak components coming forward and little deterioration of the fruit. Drink now to two years.
Imported by Empson Inc., Alexandria, VA
Eric Asimov on Barbera and the 1999 Monti -
Purchased at Grocery Outlet, Rohnert Park, CA on December 29, 2007.