Barbaresco and Barolo are the two most prestigious wines of the Langhe district in Piedmont. The names are those of two towns which are just a few kilometres apart, but they are very different in terms of soil. For this reason, the Nebbiolo grape, used for both wines, is expressed very differently. Barolo is austere and powerful; Barbaresco is more delicate and sophisticated.
Barbaresco’s production area comprises the municipalities of Barbaresco, Treiso, Neive, and the village San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, which is part of the town of Alba. The soil in these areas have a greater proportion of sand and sandstone when compared to the Barolo district. In addition, the Barbaresco area is hallmarked by the famous Sant’Agata marl, grey-blue soils that represent the finest terroirs. The sandy nature of the soil produces grapes with less concentrated organic and mineral substances, and this enhances the wine’s refined elegance.
Barbaresco has a ruby-red colour that tends towards brick-red as it ages, and it is a relatively light, transparent hue. On the nose it is delicately floral, with notes of violet and dried rose petals, subtle fragrances of wild forest fruits, hints of aromatic herbs, root liquorice, balsamic and spice. The tannins are subtle, and the finely-balanced freshness gives the wine a pleasant harmony on the palate. Barbaresco is enjoyable even when it is young, but it reaches its full expressive potential after a number of years’ ageing in the bottle. It can reach a good age and its aromatic structure progressively acquires tertiary notes that adds additional fascination and complexity.
Following the creation of the Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive (Additional Geographical Information), corresponding to the French Cru, labels increasingly often include references to the exact vineyard where the grapes were grown, a way of highlighting the differences between the various areas and the individual features of each Cru. As regards food and wine pairing, Barbaresco is the perfect wine to accompany pasta recipes with flavoursome meat sauces made using roast or braised meats or game.
Here are some suggestions that will help you extend your knowledge of this remarkable wine:
Barbaresco Gaiun Martinenga DOCG, Marchesi di Gresy
Barbaresco Gallina DOCG, La Spinetta
Barbaresco Rabajà DOCG, Bruno Rocca
Barbaresco Pajoré DOCG, Sottimano
Barbaresco Asili DOCG, Michele Chiarlo
Barbaresco Rombone DOCG, Fiorenzo Nada
Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà DOCG, Produttori del Barbaresco
Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano Albesani DOCG, Castello di Neive
… and, for those for whom money is not a problem:
Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo DOCG, Gaja
Barbaresco Sorì Tildin DOCG, Gaja
Barbaresco Rabajà DOCG, Bruno Giacosa
Barbaresco Asili DOCG, Bruno Giacosa
Barbaresco Asili Vecchie Viti DOCG, Roagna