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Barbera | Grape variety

Barbera | Grape variety

Barbera is a northern Italian grape variety best known for the Piedmontese wines Barbera d'Alba and Barbera d'Asti, which produce fresh, light red wines with low tannin content. Along with Nebbiolo and Dolcetto, it is synonymous with Piedmont, although this dark-skinned grape variety is found in several Italian wine regions, including the native Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania and even the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Barbera nera is popular for producing colorful, fruity red wines with light to medium flavor, low tannin and high acidity. Its soft tannin profile distinguishes it from Nebbiolo, its more prestigious - and very tannic - counterpart from Piedmont. As a result, Barbera is used in both blended wines and varietal wines - the latter becoming more common as Italy focuses more on varietal labeling.

When young, most Barbera wines have a light red, cherry character, distinguished from Nebbiolo (which often overshadows Barbera) by softer tannins and a certain roundness. Barrel aging followed by bottle aging produces a denser, tart cherry note. Barrel aging can also add wood tannins that can balance the generally low tannins of the variety. A warm, Merlot-like plum note is also common, although the varietal is more related to Mourvèdre than Merlot in terms of flavor profile. When overheated, a Barbera vine produces comparatively flat, dull wines with notes of prunes and raisins, while its trademark cherry flavor tends toward the cherry. - Gerardo

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