Barbera: Prince of Darkness, Goddess of Light—well not exactly, but Barbera is characteristically dark in color and light in taste. It’s a fairy tale of red and black berry flavors with high acidity, relatively low tannins, and a spicy finish. A charming and quaffable Italian varietal, Barbera pairs well with braised meats and roasted vegetable dishes.
Here are capsule reviews of Barbera you may find along the Wine Road.
Colagrossi 2019 Barbera Moon Mountain, Sonoma County
The Colagrossi 2019 Barbera from Moon Mountain in Sonoma County has all the earmarks of a classic. Dark ruby color with a magnificent nose of mocha, rose petals, anise, and blackberry. On the palate, a plush mouthfeel with blackberry, dark cherry, fig, plum and sweet tobacco. Fresh acidity and textbook Barbera structure carry the dark fruit flavors smoothly forward with a spicy pepper and clove spiked finish. From first sniff to last sip it’s a pleasure. Enjoy with pumpkin sage ravioli.
D’Argenzio 2018 Barbera Di Niccolo, Sonoma Mountain
The D’Argenzio 2018 Barbera Di Niccolo from Sonoma Mountain is deep purple in color with a light garnet rim. On the nose, light scent of pomegranate, anise, and cherry. On the palate the flavors are tart and juicy with notes of dried strawberry, blackberry, cranberry, tart cherry and fleshy dark plum. Silky, bright finish with a satisfying minty-fennel endnote. Pair with Eggplant Parmigianino.
Carol Shelton 2022 Barbera D’Oakley Planchon Vineyard, Contra Costa County
The Carol Shelton 2022 Barbera D’ Oakley hails from the 130-year-old Planchon Vineyard in Contra Costa County, co-planted with Zinfandel and Merlot. In the glass it’s medium garnet in color. On the nose a light scent of violets, blackberry, vanilla and touch of earthy nutmeg. On the palate, a tangy juicy punch of flavor full of pomegranate and black cherry with a grounding notes of thyme and peppercorn. The blend of Zinfandel and Merlot give this Barbera a fine balance with a bright yet plush mouthfeel and notes of Santa Rosa along with black pepper and blackberry on the long spicy finish. Pair with cheesy sausage and pepper pizza.
Orsi Family 2021 Barbera Dry Creek Valley
The Orsi Family 2021 Barbera has a medium purple hue with a slight blue tinge at the rim. On the nose, fleshy black cherry, plum and garrigue (costal aromatic herbs: think mint and sage). On the palate, it builds steadily with flavors of dried strawberry, sour cherry, cranberry, and black pepper. With time in the glass it comes alive with a juicy vibrancy that carries though to the bright spicy finish. Pair with classic Spaghetti and Meatballs or Chicken Cacciatore.
Peterson Winery 2019 Barbera Tollini Vineyard, Mendocino
Wild Woodland creature indeed! Right on the label the Peterson Winery 2019 Barbera from Tollini Vineyard declares the wine possesses the spirit of a “wild woodland creature”—indeed the simile is apt. With it’s dark color and bright flavor it’s a wily but approachable Barbera. On the nose, deep earthy notes of garrigue, licorice, ripe blackberry, and mocha. On the palate, notes of tangy tart cherry with a medley of thyme, marjoram, and blackberry brambles. A plush mouth feel with soft tannins that deliver secondary flavors of fig and plum, boysenberry and slate. Balanced and beautiful. Pair with Rabbit Ragu over Pappardelle.