One of the greats. Best known from Piedmont for sure, but is grown actually throughout the country in many different soils and, surprisingly, is the third most planted native grape in all Italy. Traditionally it can be found at a local trattoria poured into a (mostly) clean flat bottom water glass (or ‘paisano’ glass) in Italy for €1.50. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those, but they can be overly simple. Barbera has very little natural tannin but gobs of natural acidity, making for bright easy drinking red. But over the past twenty years we’re seeing better and better Barberas every vintage. Don’t fall for the old higher price tag = better trick; most often those flashy Barberas are exposed to far too much oak. Barbera absorbs wood flavors and tannins more easily than many other varieties, so even a little bit of new oak can torpedo an otherwise delicious wine.
Claudio Fennochio and his family do everything in the vineyards and in the cellar in a slow, traditional, methodical way. If it doesn’t take all day and all of your attention, then it’s just not being done right. Their wines reflect this level of dedication in every way. Purity of fruit, aromatics, texture all come from the grapes and the land; the job of the winemaker is to do everything he can not to interfere with that. Fifth generation organic growers, they are content still producing what they consider is the ‘right’ amount of wine and never pushing to increase output (only 8,000 cases!) Whether it’s his Nebbiolo or Barbera in the bottle, Claudio’s wines are always going to be a beautiful and memorable experience.