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Barbera wines were historically known for easy drinking, thanks to their lively flavours of red fruits. But since the late 1980’s, Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Asti and Nizza started to gain a global reputation for quality and sophistication. This was achieved by drastically reducing permitted harvests, selecting only the best grapes, and the clever use of oak ageing.
Barbera d’Alba DOC is a 30-by-30km square that covers Roero, Barolo and Barbaresco. The disciplinare limits harvest to 10 tonnes/ha and allows up to 15% Nebbiolo to be added to the blend. Many prime producers of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero also bottle Barbera wines, which are very highly regarded.
Barbera d’Asti DOCG is located to the east of Langhe, and produces some of the finest expressions of this wine. Barbera d’Asti must include at least 90% Barbera, and harvest is limited to 9 tonnes/ha. Soils to the north of Asti are rich in calcareous marls and sands (sabbie astiane), which produce wines with vivid fruity flavours. To the south of Asti, soils are rich in white limestone (terre bianche), and here Barbera wines are more structured, rich and complex.
Nizza DOCG is considered to be the historic home of Barbera. It has a unique meso-climate that produces the ripest grapes. Only 100% Barbera wine can be labelled as Nizza DOCG, and harvest is limited to 7 tonnes/ha. Nizza is famous for age-worthy Barbera wines with more depth and structure than you’d find elsewhere.
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