The group at #ItalianFWT (Italian Food Wine & Travel) is celebrating the Big B’s of Italy! Last month Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm led us on an exploration of Brunell. Earlier in the year, in May, Gwendolyn Alley led us to explore Barbera.This month I am leading us into Barbaresco and next month we will be on to Barolo!
So, here’s a bit about the region and this wine.
Barbaresco is a region in Piemonte in northwest Italy. Piemonte translates to “at the foot of the mountains”, and indeed the region sits at the foot of the Alps. This region is known for multiple wines, It is the second-largest producer of DOC and DOCG wines in Italy (the first being Veneto). There is beautiful scenery, truffles, and wines from grapes including Arneis, Barbera, Cortese, Dolcetto, Moscato and, the grape we will be focusing on, Nebbiolo.
(It’s the light purple region to the upper left of the map)
Nebbiolo in Piemonte
Nebbiolo comes from the word nebbia meaning fog. The fog hangs in the tight folds of the Langhe hills where Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards are found.
Barolo and Barbaresco are the 2 most prominent DOCGs for Nebbiolo although the grape is used in at least 7 other DOCGs as their primary grape. The wines are named after the two towns on historic hills by the same name. These wines are 100% Nebbiolo.
Barolo tends to be very intense requiring 38 months aging, 62 months for Reserva. Barbaresco is more elegant, slightly less powerful, and requires 26 months aging, with 50 months for the Reserva.
A classic nose on a Nebbiolo is often described as “tar & roses”. This black grape name I mentioned referred to the fog…well, there are other versions also some say the name comes for Noble (nobile) others that it referred to the “foggy” thick bloom on the grapes before harvest. The grape is the first to bud and the last to ripen and prefers hillsides with southern exposures.
While the wines made from Nebbiolo are powerful and tannic, the wine itself is lighter in color than you might expect, often looking like a pale Pinot Noir. It resembles Pinot Noir in another way also, in that it picks up on soils and can express itself very differently depending on where it is grown.
I mentioned that the color is light in these wines. Well, it doesn’t start that way. The anthocyanins (the color pigments) in this wine drop out quickly, so as it ages, it lightens in color, as all wines do, but faster than other varieties.
Barbaresco is Northeast and East of the city of Alba. Soils here are Calcareous clay that is said to give the wine its perfumed, fruit-forward style. There are also Marl soils that create more tannic wines.
Due to the climate, the grapes in Barbaresco ripen earlier than those in Barolo. Barbaresco sits close to the River Tanaro. This creates a lighter style of Nebbiolo which is why the aging requirements are less.
The writers with Italian Food Wine and Travel are tackling Barbaresco in November! You can join us! We will be posting our pieces on November 5th and 6th with a live Twitter chat on Saturday, November 6th! If you would like to join us, here’s how.
- Pick a Barbaresco! (You can do a sponsored post as long as you disclose that the wines are samples)
- Pair it with a meal!
- Then write about the experience!
- Just drop me an email at [email protected] if you would like to join us, with your name, website, and Twitter address, (or reply to the #ItalianFWT Facebook event if you are already a part of our group!)
- I’ll need your title by end of day November 2nd.
- When you publish your piece on November 5th or 6th, include #ItalianFWT at the end of your title and include a section with the HTML links to the other writers’ posts.
- Then join us at 8 am PT or 11 am ET on Twitter on November 6th (we will have a list of questions we will share!) and use the hashtag #ItalianFWT.
- Read through the other posts and comment and share! And then don’t forget to update the HTML so that you have live links to all the other pieces in your post.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.