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Wine Review: Be ‘in the know’ with barbera wines

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“Those who know” is an often-used description of a product designed to entice readers or listeners to the fact that people who know more about the subject product than they do have endorsed it.

I am usually turned off when I see that, but please forgive the use of it now.

Those who know, have a place in their heart for red wines made from the barbera grape. For some unfathomable reason, the variety is not commonplace on dealers’ shelves or even seen in advertisements.

However, those I have introduced barbera wines to have often said things like “Where have you been all my life?” In a way, I sometimes feel as though I am introducing the drinker to a new religion.

Riva Leone 2021 Pieemonte Barbera ($20)
Two things on the label stand out to me: that the wine is a barbera and that the grapes are from Piemonte, Italy. Piemonte, in northwestern Italy, is one of the finest grape-growing districts in Italy and is noted for its barbera grapes. This wine presents a cherry and berry aroma that seems to continually expand as it sits in the glass. The flavor is fruity with a positive, but not objectionable, oak background and a hint of spiciness. It is the ideal wine to accompany Italian foods made with white sauce, the favorite sauce of northern Italy. I like it with Italian bread, a little olive oil to dip the bread in and a bit of cheese.

De Forville Barbera d'Asti Cascina Buc 2018 ($18)
For those who may not know, the city of Asti is the winemaking center of the northeastern Italian province of Piemonte. In that region, there are many wine producers and wines made from various grape varieties, one among which is the barbera. The wine opens with aromas of spiced black plums, black cherry and herbs. Those also dominate the flavor and continues on to the finish, which is a piece of art on its own. This wine definitely displays the beauties of barbera grapes and may introduce the reader to a new red wine favorite that is not only interesting but also affordable.

Preston Vineyards 2021 Barbera ($38)
This American version of this very Italian barbera grape comes from California's Sonoma County and opens with the aromas of black plums, black cherry and freshly ground spices. The flavor and finish continue the dark fruit with the addition of the aromas and flavors of raspberries, blackberries and suggestions of chocolate and cassis. This wine is another excellent choice if this is the first barbera wine that the reader has been introduced to.

Mirafiore 2016 Barbera d'Alba Superiore ($50)
This dark ruby-colored wine is a well-aged representative of the variety. The aroma is as multifaceted as the flavor, which features the trademark barbera black plums, black cherry and, residing in the background, herbs, leather, black licorice, coffee and blackberry. While this wine is a bit more costly than some of the others here, I can assure the reader that it is worth every penny of its price.

Sebastiani 2018 Sonoma County Barbera ($42)
I end this review of barbera wines with the wine that started me on my journey. I was so impressed by this wine that I wanted to learn more about the subject, the wines and the people who made it. The Sebastiani 2018 Sonoma County Barbera opens with aromas of spiced black plums, black cherry jam and fresh ground spice. The wine is rich with flavors of blackberry and herbs that remain with the wine right to the finish. I do not know if this wine will have the same effect on the reader as it did me, but I can assure you that drinking it will be a pleasant, and perhaps even unforgettable, experience.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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