Tag Archives: Barbera

Maraia Barbera del Monferrato

Cost: Average price $9.99

Where buy now: Costco

Grapes: Barbera

Region: Italy

Vintage: 2012

Maraia Barbera del Monferrato

What kind of liquid endorphin has got me on tenterhooks lately? It’s a few Italian wines that recently hit the shelves at Costco. Costco’s inventory turns over quickly so you’ll want to get in on my “skank” wine, a budget Sangiovese that’s stupid (and contagious) tasty for $6.99. You can read about it here http://bit.ly/1fYV4Dc/Cecchi Sangiovese

My most favoritist, though, is a Barbera del Monferrato. You may be familiar with Barbera d’Alba or d’Asti. Well, there is a third Barbera zone: Barbera del Monferrato. All three hail from the Piedmont region which is North Eastern Italy. (Remember the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino? That was in Piedmont.) Oddly enough, Barbera del Monferrato is the largest of all three zones and yet you don’t hear much about it. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I was one of those people.

I’ll tell you that I have a straight up Barbera fetish. There isn’t one that I haven’t enjoyed, though I’m more partial to Barbera d’Alba over Asti [much the same way my husband is partial to Barbara Eden vs. Barbara Streisand]. “They” (wine gods?) state Barberas from Alba and Asti are more robust where as the Monferrato is more aromatic and softer on your palate. I cannot tell you if it’s true, because I didn’t simultaneously sample Barberas from all three zones to test this theory. Why? Because I would have drank all three bottles and been in an alcohol induced coma. I love Barbera that fervently and have SOME sense of dignity. Well…

What I can tell you about this wine is that it’s an agreeable lil’ number. I enjoyed the rich red cherried plum flavors, it’s soft vanilla undertones and peppery tinge. It’s a touch more jammy than one would find in a Barbera- not so much with the earthy funk. Nevertheless, this would be a great wine to experiment with. I mean by tasting and/or pairing it. Don’t go wasting it by sploshing it on your wet and messy cakesitting fetish friends.

Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba

Cost: Average price $11

Where buy now: Surdyk’s- $9.99

Grapes: Barbera

Region: Barbera d’Alba, Italy

Vintage: 2010

Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba

While seeking one of my favorites recently, Ruvei Barbera d’Alba, I come to find out Surdyk’s doesn’t carry it any more. Why, oh why? I was turned on to this wine years ago when a friend gave it to me, and it has been my go-to splurge (typically around $20/bottle) ever since.

So, I asked, “What Barbera would you suggest that’s comparable yet under $15?” I was directed to this: Franco Serra Barbera [bar-bear-ah].

Later that afternoon, we went out with an old college friend. It was two of the worst hours of my life. And I mean it. A visit to my “ladyparts” doctor would feel like a Disney ride compared to this. I was miserable. This friend (whom shall remain nameless) not only showed up over an hour late, he appeared stoned, drunk and everything in between. I spent two hours listening to his loud, lewd, and drunken drivel, while not letting anyone else speak. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “What’s this? The Savvy Lush can’t stand her old pal’s inebriation?” No, friends, I follow the sentiment of the late, great imbiber extraordinaire, Hunter S. Thompson, who once said: “There is nothing worse than a sloppy drunk.”

I came home and I needed to find my happy place and FAST! I grabbed the Barbera, and tapped the juice so fast you’d have thought I was Houdini. I poured a big ol’ glass. I needed to erase my last two hours, so more ambiance was required. I ran to the stereo to add the sonic bliss of Andrea Boccelli. I sat down, dog at my feet, and began to sink into the sofa. With each gorgeous note the tenor sang and with each sip of delicious wine I swallowed, I could feel my soul being restored.

This Barbera smelled of dark red fruit and wafts of soothing Italian breezes (go with me, now). The taste was velvety smooth, with hints of strawberry, mild spice and chocolate. The tannins are mild and there is little acidity in this medium-bodied red. This is a food friendly wine, as any Italian wine should be, but what I love about Barbera is you can drink it alone. As you can see in the picture, I enjoyed the wine alongside a Capicolla & Asiago Trader Joe’s sampler pack and some yummy dark chocolate from Kowalski’s (wine + meat & cheese = $6!). It was all working, and I finally found my happy place.

This is a tasty little number. I’m still sad that the Ruvei was no longer in stock at Surdyk’s as that one will still remain a favorite. However, the Franco Serra will more than suffice, and for a few bucks less, may become my new go-to Barbera.

Giacomo Vico Langhe Rosso

Cost: Average price $13.99

Where buy now: Surdyks – $10.97

Grapes: 70% Barbera, 30% Nebbiolo

Region: Piedmont, Italy

Vintage: 2009

Giacomo Vico Langhe Rosso
Giacomo Vico Langhe Rosso

The tall, dashingly handsome Italian wine rep at the store made it impossible to pass by with only a glance. Right dapper in his pin stripe suit, well-coifed hair and slight Mediterranean tan, I was completely entranced as he regaled with details about the Giacomo Vico vineyard and their wine. He even smelled like he came straight from a Versace fashion shoot: cypress, smoke, spice and everything nice. As I stood with five or six other patrons, the crowded store made it difficult for our little gathering to remain in one place. When we shifted around to make room for other patrons, I would stealthily lean in to catch a hint of his aura. I know that’s downright creepy, but I was addicted. Oh, how I wanted to channel my inner Sophia Loren!

With his heavy, dripping accent he described this Langhe Rosso blend. The Giacomo Vico vineyards are in a hilly area, South of Torino and East of the River Tanaro in Piedmont, called “Roero”. Barbara and Nebbiolo wines are created separately, then fused into barrels to age. This blend creates a smooth, slightly tannic but not too dry libation. The deep color and smooth nature is evident as it is 70% Barbera. The slightly tannic, woody dry flavor is due to the Nebbiolo. I figured I’d like this wine since I love Barbera, and the introduction of Nebbiolo gives it a little bit drier quality. It has enough character to stand alone- perfect for sipping and gossiping with girlfriends (or Italian boyfriends). It is not, however, too strong to drink alongside spaghetti and meatballs or a grilled hamburger. Ooh, or pick up some truffle cheese at Trader Joes- that mushroomy smokiness would gracefully bring out the Nebbiolo flavor.

When this romance novel of a gentleman finishes telling us all the details, I stand there like a deer in headlights. I don’t speak. I can’t speak! I merely extend my hand hoping he will take it, whisk me away to his villa, perhaps speeding on windy hills in his convertible Alpha Romeo. He smiled and asked if I’d like a bottle. As I mutely nod, he places one in my desperate, outreached hand and moves on to the next patron.