Although Barbaresco does not roll off the tongue as harmoniously as Barolo, it is an excellent wine worthy of acclaim. Produced exclusively from Nebbiolo, the region in which Barbaresco may be produced includes the towns of Barbaresco, Neive, Treiso and a small part of Alba, and covers approximately 500 hectares.
Barbaresco emerged from the shadow of Barolo in the 1960’s with its elegance, aromatic intensity, full body, fine mouth feel, and long pleasant aftertaste.
Barbaresco is younger than Barolo, and was “invented” by professor Domizio Cavazza in 1890’s; he succeeded in producing a completely dry wine as the one Louis Oudart had back in 1840’s for Barolo.
Barbaresco did not have the commercial advantages of being connected to the House of Savoy, and remained in obscurity until Giovanni Gaja (the father of Angelo) and Bruno Giacosa, two dedicated Barbaberso vintners who demonstrated how delightful this wine can be in the hands of caring wine makers. That was in 1960’s and now some single vineyard Barbarescos fetch as high and sometimes even higher prices than Barolos.
The soil of Barbaresco is fundamentally a calcareous marl of the Tortonian epoch and yields soft, aromatic fruity wines akin to those of t he towns La Morra and Barolo, although one would never come across a Barbaresco like the Barolos from Cannubi and Brunate.
Bricco Santo Stefano Barbarescos reflect a Barolo-like character, but never match them.
Barbersco was granted D O C G (the highest quality status according the Italian wine laws) status shortly after Barolo, and must have a minimum of 12.5 percent alcohol ( today mostly surpassed to 13.5 and 14 due to reduced yields per vine), barrel aged for a minimum of three years and one more in bottle before release.
Barbaresco is about 60 percent smaller than Barolo, but now has more single-vineyard wines than Barolo, as well as many Bricco assigned brands, which signify the top of the hill where grapes ripen better and yield soft and aromatic wines with higher alcohol levels.
These days, more wineries produce Barbarescos with a short maceration, soft pressing and barrique aging. They cellar well for 10- 15 years pending the vintage , whereas old-style Barabrescos had be cellared much longer.
The most famous promoter of Barbaresco is Angelo Gaja who has managed to elevate the reputation of his wines to unheard-of levels along with those of others in the region.
Marchesi di Gressy and Bruno Giacosa are two very fine wineries, as are Ceretto, Vietti, A. Rocca, Moccagatta, Piero Busso, D. Rivetti, Sottomao, Vigne Paitin, Pio Cesare, Prunotto, La Spinetta and Cantine Vignaioli.
Below find some of the finest single-vineyard Barbarescos today:
Vigneto Starderi, Bernadot, Faset, Pajore, Borgese, Baluchin, Montobert, Cotta, Roncaglia, Sori Paitin, Sori Paitin Vecchie Vigne, Micca, Nervo, Coste Rubin, Mari di Brun, Sori San Lorenzo, Spress, Darmaji, Promis, Magari, Rossj-Bass, Sito Moresco, Cascina Bordino, Il Bricco, Asili (Asij in local dialect), Fansoni, Vigneto Valerin, Vingeto Marcarini, Sori Tildin, Sori Rio Sardo, Camp Gros, Martinenga, Gainn, Bric Balin, Rombone., Bric Turot, Caparossa, Bricco Asili, Basarin, Rabaja, Vigneto gallina, Sori Burdin, Cole, Vigneto Bric Ronchi, Masseria, San Stefanetto and Vignetto Loreto.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu