In the second installment of the “Big B’s” (Brunello in October), this month we explore Barbaresco, the sometimes forgotten nebbiolo of Piemonte. For fans of Barolo (which we will cover next month), Barbaresco may seem a distant second. For me, the elegance of Barbaresco and early drinkability of a wine that can be as hard as nails for ten+ years is an advantage.
I’ve tasted many Barolo and Barbaresco ad nauseum, remembering fondly the several trips around various wineries in both Barolo and Barbaresco to taste some beautiful wine. In Barolo, there are 11 municipalities or villages that can put Barolo on the label. Barbaresco has four main ones:
- Treiso- most refined and fresh
- Neive – most powerful and fleshy
- Barbaresco – most complete and balanced
- San Rocco seno d’Elvio – soft and most ready to drink
Within the municipalities, there are 66 MGA (Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive (plural)) or “cru” sites. Of course, the wines must be 100% nebbiolo and ageing requirements are at least 26 months (9 of which must be in barrel) with the Riservas being aged for at least 50 months, again with 9 months in barrel. Bear in mind that these requirements are less what is required in Barolo.
My wine was the Fontanabianca Barbaresco. From Neive the winery was started in 1969 by the Pola family. Along with two cru sites, there are three Nebbiolo vineyards located in the commune of Neive, with southern/western exposure, for the production of their Barbaresco label. The nose was full of the quintessential nebbiolo red rose, along with red cherry, some nuances of Italian savoury herbs and even slight hints of tar. A gorgeous nose! On the palate, huge red cherry and Italian herbs with velvety, smooth tannins. A definite elegance within the power of nebbiolo. yet because it was from Neive, the fleshiness was most certainly there! Given a choice, I’d drink Barbaresco over Barolo any day! As for my pairing, the stew itself was delicious with a brown gravy that was savoury and flavourful. The meat cooked for three days so it was very tender and literally melted in your mouth. Cheese biscuits served warm with the stew rounded out the meal. The recipe called for sharp cheddar in the biscuits but I changed it up and used manchego cheese which made for an interesting flavour all on its own.
My fellow writers here at #ItalianFWT have written some great articles about their own experiences with Barbaresco. Check them out below.
- Wendy with A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Pure Comfort~~Roast Chicken, Wild Rice Pilaf and a Glass of Barbaresco Wine
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Risotto ai Tre Funghi, Rosticciana al Forno, + Fontanafredda Silver Label Barbaresco 2015
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest is Reaching for Barbaresco Basarin with Marco and Vittorio Adriano
- Susannah of Avvinare is Exploring The Beauty of Barbaresco
- Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog has a 2017 Riva Leone Barbaresco Paired With Italian Fare and Friends
- Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator shares Affordable Riva Leone Barbaresco Meets Bolognese
- Nicole of Somm’s Table will share An Anniversary Celebration with Barbaresco
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles will be sharing Barbaresco and Thanksgiving Flavors
See you in December as we discuss Barolo. Salute!
I love how you handicapped the 4 Barbaresco growing areas. Noted! Lovely pairing too Marcia!
That meal sounds magical — My mouth is watering at the idea of mopping up the sauce with cheddar biscuits and then washing it down with Barbaresco. A wonderful intro to the region!
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What a great deep dive into the region. I was familiar with the villages, but not the MGAs. There is so much more to explore in Barbaresco, thank you for whetting my appetite!
Beef with Barbaresco, definitely! Your travels in the area, and Barolo, are extensive. I’m curious to know of your favorite dishe(s) paired with Barbaresco? There’s a lot to be said for first-hand experiences!
There’s lots of beef, more specifically veal served in Piemonte. Consider the truffles too. Whether it’s shavings on your dish or oil it seems to be prevalent. Carne crudo (steak tartar or raw “hamburger”) done so simply with lemon juice, garlic and egg is often served. My favourite was vitelo tonatto, thin slices of veal (think beef carpaccio) served with capers and even sometimes “Russian salad” the Peimontese take on tuna salad really! These are served with both Barolo and Barbaresco. I highly recommend anyone to tour Piemonte. I would say it’s my favourite Italian region!
The veal sounds delicious, thank you!