The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the wine flows freely for teachers and parents alike! This is the time of year that we as decent human beings look forward to exploration. For kids this looks like tree forts and sand castles; for adults, a time to try some new wines while the kids are busy building tree forts and sand castles...
As I write this I am sitting on the back patio looking out over the yard. Banjo (my dog) is laying in the sun sprawled out and panting with a big stupid grin on his face. The sweet smells, of charcoal and sizzling meats waft into my nose from somewhere down the street. I am debating on sparking up the grill myself to throw something on, it just seems like the right thing to do.
Van Morrison's Astral Weeks plays softly through my computer speakers as I refill my glass. With what you ask? Ah...My friends, well that brings us to the point of this whole thing. Today we sip on one of my favorite Italian treasures, a wine that has risen through the ranks over the years. Hailing from the upper portion of Italy called Piedmont, I'm talking about a liquid gem referred to as Barbera D' Asti.
Let's Talk About It!
Barbera (Bar-Bare-Uh) is a grape that is planted all over the northern region of Italy. The "D'Asti" portion tells us exactly where it comes from. As a general rule, whenever you see D' on an Italian bottle, you are about to find out where the heck it is from. So let's take our bottle here and break it down: Barbera D'Asti is telling us that the grape is a Barbera, and it is from (or of) the Asti region.
Now, you will find Barbera from all over Piedmont, but the cream of the crop so to speak, general come from one of three different places, the three A's if you will: Asti, Alba, or Alessandria, all located in the southern half of the Piedmont region.
Barbera is a very pleasant wine, not only to drink, but to look at, I mean come on, look at that color! If it were a crayon it would be called something like "Cherry bomb," or "hooker lips" or "Firetruck explosion," something like that! (Side note: please excuse all the smudges and fingerprints on my glass, but hey, #wineasyouare right?!)
Ok, so now that I've successfully worked the phrase "hooker lips" into my wine blog, I feel like we can move on...Let's talk about what this baby is like!
On The Nose:
I get a burst of fresh spiced cherries, and a little bit of earthiness, like moss or something. If moss came in cherry flavor, it would be this smell. However, this wine is aged solely in stainless steel tanks, so all the earthiness comes from the soil it's grown in, which is cool. You are literally smelling Italy from wherever you are sitting.
On The Tongue:
Oof...I wish you were drinking this with me right now...When you go out and buy a bottle (which you really should) come back and read this part again so it'll be like we're drinking together!
This is an initial explosion of bright red fruits like cherries, raspberries, and cranberries. Let it sit in your mouth and kind of roll it around and you will get subtle hints of clove, and anise as you work it across your tongue.
It finishes very sharp and acidic; picture taking a sip of cranberry juice, where you get that slight little tingle, and it hits you in the back of the jaw. Not sour per say, but that faint little tingle at the very edge of your jaw. This is partly due to the fact that Barbera is a grape very high in acidity, and partly due to those steel tanks I mentioned earlier. Think about it this way: if you took a spoon and tapped the outside of a big wooden barrel what would happen? You'd get a heavy, dull thud right? Now take that same spoon and tap a beer keg. You'd get a loud, metallic twang that would echo and reverberate for a little bit. Well that's basically what's happening in your mouth. When you age a wine in an oak barrel you get a heavy, deep, solemn flavor profile. However, when you age in stainless steel, you age the wine for a much shorter period of time, and you are left with a bright, rich, light and fresh 'twang' of a finish! Pretty cool huh? I think so.
Do to the medium-light body, high acidity, and stainless aging, this wine is a great summer wine that can go with everything from fresh fruit, to brats, to pizza, to cheese, and so on and so on. You can even put a little chill on this and enjoy it while you're writing on a sunny day on the patio and your dog basks in the sun!
Anyways, that's my two cents. Go buy some Barbera and wine as you are my friends, wine as you are! As always, drink on!