Let’s be clear: Barbaresco is no Barolo
I may have drunk a Barbaresco sometime in the past. There have been, after all, years of wine drinking. But I don't think so. Which is a shame. I love a good a Barolo and, though Barbaresco is not a Barolo, it's often compared with the latter. And who doesn't love a rich and luscious Italian wine?
Made with the Italy's Nebbiolo grape, Barbaresco is produced in the Piedmont region of Italy and was granted Denominazione di origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1966 and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status in 1980.
So why is it compared with Barolo? Mostly because they are produced so geographically close to each other, but also because they both are Italian wines with distinctive Nebbiolo flavors. Although there are similarities, however, the wines possess distinctive characteristics.
Produced just 10 miles from each other, the Barbaresco enjoys a maritime influence, which allows the Nebbiolo grape to ferment earlier with a shorter maceration time. The tannins of the Barbaresco are more likely to soften quicker, which makes the Barbaresco a more approachable wine at an earlier age than the Barolo.
Furthermore, Barbaresco is produced in smaller vineyard areas and so is only 35 percent of the production of the Barolo. That means it's not as widely available as Barolo.
Barbaresco wines must be aged for a minimum of two years (at least one year in oak) prior to release and aged for at least four years to be considered a riserva, according to DOCB stipulations. Though most Barbaresco is a 13.5 percent alcohol level, they must have at least a 12.5 percent level.
Barbaresco wines are also expected to be aged from 5 to 10 years after before they are consumed. However, they are extremely tannic and some continue to be very drinkable even after 20 years. Roses or violet flavors are typical of the Barbaresco style and are often described with having flavors of fennel, licorice or cherry. The wine also develops hints of smoke and earthy notes as it ages.
It is winter time, a perfect season to dip into the heavier, larger reds. I know from experience that a Barolo drinks beautifully with beef bourguignon or a rib eye roast. If ever there was a day to pull a Barbaresco from the shelf, slide the rib eye roast into the oven and enjoy the marriage of such heavenly vituals, it is today.
It's expected to dip down to just 5 degrees before it's all over. Might as well make it blissful.
Word o' the Week
Calcareous Marl is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and aragonite. Italy's Barbaresco region is made up of calcareous marl soil.
One Winning Wine Tasting
Estes Park Winter Festival
On Saturday, January 16 and Sunday, January 17, the Estes Park Winter Festival presents two days of chili, wine, beer and song. More than eight Colorado wineries plan to show up and provide the wine, and a heated big top promises to keep everyone warm.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days in Bond Park, located in downtown Estes Park. The event also showcases several Estes Park chefs who will compete to determine who makes the best chili in Estes Park. Tickets are $5 for chili tastings and $20 for wine and beer tastings. Call 970.586.2099 for further information.