One of my favorite varietals in the world is Barbera, particularly from the Piedmont region of Italy, and specifically from the areas of Asti, Alba, and Monferrato. The nice thing about Barbera imported from Italy is that, generally speaking, you get what you pay for, and there are excellent bottles starting around 12 bucks all the way through around forty, With my meager salary, I tend to stay in the under-$20 range, and there are plenty of good values to choose from. At the same time, I’m always on the lookout for an Italian Barbera at ten bucks or less. They’re hard to find, but usually worth my hard-earned dollars.
So when I saw this bottle from Suri for $9.99, I pounced on it. It’s made by a winery called Villa Giada, which is located in the middle of Piedmont, somewhere between Alba and Asti (technically, this wine is a Barbera d’Asti). Winemaker Andrea Faccio ferments the juice in stainless steel and allows it to go through a full malolactic (this is geek talk for a second fermentation, whereby malic acid is converted to lactic acid, and the result is a smoother, rounder, mouthfeel). Though not the best Barbera I’ve ever tasted, it did not disappoint. The nose is slightly subdued, and not a good hint at what the palate offers. I got some earthy, herbal aromas, with hints of black cherry layered below. In the mouth, however, I was welcomed by bright, fresh flavors of black cherry and black raspberry. This wine is ripe and full, balanced by mild acidity and mild, ripe tannins. It finishes with harmony, no one element overpowering the other. I enjoyed it on its own, and as a match for Manwich-brand sloppy joes. It will go just as well with pasta in meat sauce or marinara, burgers, tacos, mac and cheese, pizza, and any dish that includes a tomato-based sauce.