By Kori ~ February 18th, 2009.
Our host for the February edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphereâ€™s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is David McDuff of McDuffâ€™s Food and Wine Trail. David selected A Passion for Piedmont (a title he borrowed from wine writer Matt Kramerâ€™s Piedmontese cookbook) as this monthâ€™s theme in which he asked us to pick any wine from the Piedmont region of Italy to taste, enjoy, and then write up our impressions. (Photo from Vietti)
I was thrilled when I saw Davidâ€™s theme announcement because I became particularly interested in Piedmont when I read Vino Italiano for the Wine Book Club in February 2008. Piedmont, the second largest region in the country, is located in northwest Italy. Piedmont boasts the most DOCs and DOCGs of any other region.
â€œPiedmont, more so than even Tuscany, is the wine-loverâ€™s mecca.â€ â€“Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch, Vino Italiano
While Piedmont is probably most well-known for its wines produced from the Nebbiolo grape in the DOCGs of Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbera provides most of the regionâ€™s everyday wine. Donâ€™t let the â€œeveryday wineâ€ label fool you, though. The Barbera grape is capable of producing great wine, and we have found them to be excellent values, always welcome in these difficult economic times. When Iâ€™m looking at the wine list at an Italian restaurant and not wanting to spend a ton of money, I will often choose a Barbera. While many people look to Chianti as their go-to Italian wine, Barbera is mine.
We chose to blind taste two Barberas, one from the town of Asti and the other from the town of Alba (and that was even before David issued his Bonus Point Challenge of selecting two wines made from the same variety but from different areas within Piedmont).
â€œWhat sets Peimontese towns such as Alba and Asti apart is that people go there almost exclusively for the wine and food.â€ â€“Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch, Vino Italiano
Mom prepared a delicious dinner of smothered steak, tomatoes with Italian seasonings, brown rice, seasoned peas, and a fruit medley. All four of us Wine Peeps preferred the 2005 Vietti Barbera dâ€™Asti Tre Vigne over the 2007 Damilano Barbera dâ€™Alba. The Vietti got better with food while the Damilano seemed a bit out of balance as the meal progressed. Both are good wines, but the Vietti is the one to keep an eye out for on a restaurant wine list or at your local wine shop. Vietti is widely available and seems to be consistent from vintage to vintage.
2005 Vietti Barbera dâ€™Asti Tre Vigne (Castiglione Falletto, Piedmont, Italy): Deep ruby red with aromas of earth and licorice. Black cherries and black pepper come through on the palate. Medium-bodied and lively with medium tannins and a long finish. Gets better with food.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Wine Exchange (California), $14.99 [2006 is currently available vintage]; Wine Globe (California), $19.99
2007 Damilano Barbera dâ€™Alba (Piedmont, Italy): Deep ruby red in color. Leather comes through on the nose. Opens up a bit on the palate with flavors of anise and plums. Smooth, medium-bodied, and soft tannins. A bit out of balance as the meal progressed.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Esquin (Seattle), $18.99; Available elsewhere, $13 to $21
Filed under: Barbera, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Italian Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25