: Piemonte

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Barbera was once known as ‘the people’s wine’ of Piemonte for its versatility and its abundant production. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, a proportion of Barbera underwent a significant metamorphosis as producers, in a parallel development to the Sangiovese-based supertuscans, experimented with barrel maturation. The prototype was Giacomo Bologna’s Bricco dell’Uccellone. New oak substantially modifies the character of Barbera, adding a real spiciness to its rather neutral aromas and a certain quantity of ligneous tannins which firm up its structure and soften the impact of its acidity. In addition, the extra oxygenation of the wine has helped to curb the variety’s natural tendency to reduction. Today Barbera comes in a bewildering range of styles, from the young, cheaplight, and spritzy to powerful, intense, highly priced wines that need extended cellaring, reflecting both variation of producer vision and the extreme heterogeneousness of the soils and mesoclimates of the zones where it is planted.