When it comes to red wines from Piedmont, the stars have always been Barolo and Barbaresco, both made from the Nebbiolo grape. Because of this, Barbera can sometimes be overshadowed. This is partly due to the fact that Barbera is grown in many of the same areas as Nebbiolo, where the best growing sites and most of the attention is given to the Nebbiolo grapes, making Barbera almost an afterthought at times. This has begun to change lately, and the quality and reputation of the Barbera wines is changing with it.
Barbera appears in a number of DOC and DOCG wines, with the Barbera d’Asti DOCG being one of the most notable. This region was a DOC until 2008, when it was “upgraded” to a DOCG region (an example of why it can be hard to keep track of Italian wine regions; some sources still list this as a DOC). The wines produced in this region must be made up of at least 85% Barbera; the remaining 15% can include Freisa, Grignolino and/or Dolcetto. Barbera wines tend to be softer, and are meant to be drunk younger, than their Nebbiolo cousins. They are typically not as powerful, with fewer tannins, which allows the acidity and dark fruit notes to show through.
This Barbera d’Asti is produced by Oddero, a large producer of Piedmont wines. It is made with 100% Barbera grapes, grown in the comune of Vinchio. It has a nice, dark color to it, with notes of ripe fruits, mainly cherry, and a hint of oak on the nose. On the palate there are flavors of that same cherry along with other dark fruits, mainly blackberry. It is medium-to-full bodied, with a bright, lively acidity to it and not many tannins. It finishes smooth, with lingering notes of spice and a hint of oak, along with a slight bitterness. Overall it is a well balanced wine, a good representation of the Barbera d’Asti DOCG.