God save the Queen – La Barbera!
Multifaceted, versatile and chameleon-like. We’re not talking about the innate talents of The Queen’s Gambit (have you seen the series on Netflix by any chance? 😏) but of another woman with red hair: her name is Barbera and she is loved to inebriate our minds.
Its land of origin is Astesana, the wine-growing heart of Piedmont (since this land alone produces 30% of the region’s wines), but we Piedmontese have wanted to give the Queen a long life all the way across the ocean, producing varieties in California and South America too.
After travelling through the places of this feminine wine, it is only right to discover where it all began. Let’s take a trip back in time to 1271. If we had not yet been born, nor had our great-great-grandparents, Pier de’ Crescenzi of Bologna was certainly hard at work. His aim was to recognise every as yet unknown variety of grape. To this end, he wrote the Opus ruralium commodorum, the first treatise on agronomy and oenology, in which he mentioned the Grissa grape variety, from which Barbera is produced: a grape characterised by elongated berries rich in must, with an intense black colour and thin skin. Here is the jewel that encapsulates this goodness! Alas, due to the bungling of the translators of Pier de’ Crescenzi’s treatise, Barbera took a long time to establish itself because it was confused with Nebbiolo.
“Vinum Berberis” or “Barberus“, it doesn’t matter! It is certain that Barbera wine is an acclaimed goodness, it is just that the historian Aldo di Ricaldone was a little fussy in discovering the origin of the name. But just for you, we make this exception to the rule and we will divulge in their significance:
- “Vinum Berberis”, as the fermented juice of Berberi, or Crespino used in cooking or as a medicine, was well known and widespread in late medieval Piedmont;
- “Bàrberus” for its impetuous and aggressive character, as are the Bàrberi who have been running the Palio of Asti for seven centuries.
Count Francesco Cotti certainly had no such scruples when, in 1695, he ardently desired a Barbera vineyard on his property in Neive. We do not know the reason for this, but we assume that it was for his daily pleasure. After a history of misunderstandings and wreckage, in 1798 Count Nuvolone officially crowned Barbera as the undisputed queen of Piedmontese grape varieties in his ‘Ampelografia‘.
We have talked about its history, its origins, its customs and traditions… Now we come to the point. Christmas has just passed, we are now on the 26th of December, so we need to know what bottle to sabre on New Year’s Eve (but let’s not shout it out too much, wine should not be sabred, but it is a holiday, come on).
Conte Nuvoli di Grinzane’s Barbera D’Asti Superiore DOCG is certainly a winning choice to open the dances for your celebrations.
We certainly won’t spoil the ending of Queen of Chess for you, but how to make this wine organically, yes! Discover more in the episode of our series In a bottle:
– Until next time, With love!