Don’t have a ton of experience with Barbera, but I really loved this wine. Is it representative of the grape and region? Notes below from the same bottle, separated by 48 hours.
2010 Luciano Sandrone Barbera d’Alba- Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba (5/28/2014)
Dark and fairly full bodied, shows what seems to be a touch of bandaid brett on the nose, though this seems to fade with air. Palate is dark and brooding, with a real sense of deep pomegranate juice, some blackberry, and a bright streak of acidity cutting through the finish. Not a lot of experience with Barbera, but I really love this. Not a lot of complexity or depth, but has a raw power, plenty of earthy flavor, and nice overall balance. I’ll be drinking more of this. (91 pts.)
2010 Luciano Sandrone Barbera d’Alba- Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba (5/26/2014)
Medium dark garnet, earthy, perhaps a hint bretty nose, delicious, dark, earthy fruit, a mineral/volcanic/iodine underpinning, with a bright, deep raspberry streak on the finish. Quite enticing, very drinkable now. Great BBQ wine. (91 pts.)
Barbera is one of the most reliable wines in the world. In a good year from good producer it is as sure a bet as can be made on wine. Sandrone usually goes for a good amount of extraction and uses a little new oak. So the wines are a little richer than some. If you want to try others:
Veitti Barbera d’ Alba Scarrone
Vietti Barbera d’ Asti La Crena
G. Conterno Barbera d’ Alba Cascina Francia
Do watch out though - there are two very distinctly different styles of Barbera -
The “modern” style; ala Sadrone picks riper fruit, uses small barriques (some new as Gary noted) and are riper, richer than the “traditional” style. The bigger wines will resemble a new world Pinot Noir some as well - lots of berry fruit -
The “traditional” style uses older, stand up barrels, concrete or stainless steel and those offerings (usually the lower priced Barberas from the bigger houses) show much more stark acidity yet still have that wonderful berry front - they are an entirely different animal than the “modern” versions -
Lots of Italian geeks on this site that know much more about the styles than I do - hopefully they will throw their two cents in -
My favorite “modern” Barbera by the way is from GIACOMO BOLOGNA / BRAIDA
BARBERA D’ASTI "Ai Suma" and the BARBERA D’ASTI "Bricco dell’Uccellone"
If Romanee Conti produced Barbara - these are what they would taste like -
I kind of assumed the Sandrone was a little bigger and brawnier than what is “traditional” based on what I’ve been able to read about the wines. For a N. Rhone syrah drinker like me, that style is pretty much in my wheelhouse, though I think I would also appreciate a more elegant, restrained style as well. Will continue to explore, thanks for all the advice.
My fave is G. Conterno’s: very accurate, traditional, but not punishingly tart; it’s gotten a bit pricey for the category, however. Others might have had different experiences, but I haven’t found that aging Barbera (Conterno’s, for instance) accomplishes much. For that reason, I prefer something Sangiovese if I’m looking for a good, bright food wine that’s good young but has excellent cellaring potential.
I agree with all of this. Barbera d’Alba is usually made in the same style as the Sandrone, I prefer the brighter flavors and acidity of the less expensive Asti examples. (The more expensive Asti Barberas usually involve oak.)
If you talk to Luca Currado of Vietti about barbera, one of the interesting points he brings up is that for most producers in Piemonte, barbera is an afterthought. Because of the economics, everyone plants the best sites to Nebbiolo and barbera to the less desirable sites. The Scarrone vineyard (they also make a Vigna Vecchia Scarrone) is one of those top sites. The story goes that Luca’s father asked him to replant a section of the vineyard to Nebbiolo. And instead he planted barbera (either by accident or he told his dad it was by accident.) His dad was pissed, but now he feels he can show off the true potential of the grape.
Disclaimer: I work for a company with a business association with Vietti.
K&L had an Italian wine tasting today and my wife and I went to the San Francisco store to taste. It was a great way to learn and taste more Italian wines. One wine that was poured was the 2010 Ca’ Viola “Brichet” Barbara d’Alba. It was very similar to the tasting note that you described, with a little less power. For $20, we are buyers!
Not a lot of experience with Barbera, but in reviewing my tasting notes I found that my favorite was a Sandrone 06 that I drank in 2012. A delicious food wine. Other favorites were from La Spinetta and G. Mascarello.