Send Lawyers Guns and Barbera

[caption id="attachment_3667" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Zevon fans click here[/caption] I think we can confidently say; Barbera’s time has come. If you don’t believe me (after all, I am an Excitable Boy), perhaps you’ll pay heed to these credible folks: “No grape has known such a dramatic upgrade in its fortunes and image in the last 20 years than Barbera in Piemonte, north-west Italy.” Jancis Robinson, MW and author of Wine Grapes (a book owned by almost every California winemaker) and The Oxford Companion to Wine. “No other red wine has risen so rapidly in favor in recent times as Barbera.”  Burton Anderson, the first and most prominent American writer to focus on Italian wine. Author of Vino, The Wine Atlas of Italy and Best Italian Wines. “Barbera is the most successful Italian grape variety in California.” David Lynch, author of Vino Italiano, and owner of St. Vincent Tavern and Wine Merchant in SF. “Up your nose with a rubber hose.”  Vinnie Barbarino Barbera, like Warren Zevon’s music, is a wine almost everybody likes for different reasons. Barbera’s lack of tannin, bright fruit and lively acidity make it one of—if not the most—versatile food wines on the planet. Barbera is made in a variety of styles, from light and snappy, to thick and juicy. Finally, Barbera has always struck me as one of the best Italian wines flying under the radar.  All of which sounds very Zevon-like. In 1998 George Unti planted 2 acres of Barbera. We started making the wine in 2002, and were so impressed we subsequently planted 4 more acres. Now, with all of our Barbera vines yielding fruit we made 2,000 cases in 2012, making it the highest volume red wine here at Unti. Needless to say, we are “in it to win it” with Barbera. Sebastien Pochan offers more info about our history with Barbera and its evolution here in California. Read his piece by clicking HERE. Just before we release any wine, we scramble to conduct an in-house comparative tasting of the best European versions of the particular varietal wine type. One of the few perks of working at Unti. Thus, we recently tasted a flight of very high-end Barberas, which included the following: Braida “Bricco dell’ Uccellone”, Barbera d”Asti  2009 Braida  “Ai Suma” Barbera d’Asti 2009 Vietti  “Vigna Scarrone” Barbera d’Alba 2010 Vietti  “Scarrone Vigna Vecchia” Barbera d’Alba  2010 Tenuta Olim Bauda “Nizza” Barbera d’Asti Superiore  2009 Luli  “Barabba” Barbera del Monferrato 2007 Luli  “Rossore” Barbera del Monferrato 2009 All of the above wines depicted what you would expect from modern style Italian wines- ripe fruit, high alcohol, new oak and a slight surprise: relatively low acidity. We then followed up with a vertical of Unti Barbera from 2007 through 2012, in search of some perspective. A few things were very apparent to us. All of the Unti wines were darker in color, fruitier, often lower in alcohol, and much to our surprise, noticeably higher in acidity! Are You Sure Giacomo (Bologna) Done It This Way? Jancis Robinson, when describing the “modern style Barbera” thinks some producers are intentionally lowering acidity in their Barberas: “They still have rather a shortage of tannin, however, but this can be counterbalanced by oaking and the additional framework of oak tannins. Which still leaves that high acidity. Many modern winemakers quietly de-acidify Barbera (by adding harmless calcium carbonate for example) to give it extra appeal in an age when wine consumers are—wrongly in my view—taught to be shy of acidity.” Hmmmm. As Artie Johnson once said, “Very interesting, but stupid.”  Based on our tasting, I think Jancis might be on to something. Giacomo Bologna was the man credited with making Piemonte’s first “serious” Barbera, Braida Bricco dell’ Uccellone. The two Braida Barberas in our flight had 16% alcohol listed on the label, meaning they definitely picked their grapes at very high sugars. Whether the result of picking super-ripe grapes or de-acidification, Braida wines clearly showed lower than expected levels of acidity. Showy, but not snappy. Well, after 16 vintages of trying to make European-styled wines here in Dry Creek, the last thing we would do is intentionally lower the acidity in our wines. It is what we love about Barbera here and what we love about Barbera in Italy. Barbera’s high acidity only bothers me when the wine lacks depth or concentration. So far, that has not been an issue for us making it from our vineyards. So now we are releasing the 2012 Barbera, perhaps the finest we’ve ever made. It is a fruity, full-bodied version, yet this wine possesses the lively acidity necessary to call it Barbera. If our 2012 Barbera doesn’t turn some heads of vineyard-owners here, it is only because they are in the sand.   100% Barbera                                    2,075 cases produced $30/bottle or $24 when part of a mixed case purchase

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