14 October, 2013

California does Barbera.


We're all in love with Italian wines.

From Nebbiolo & Vermentino in Piedmont to Nero D'Avola in Sicily & Fiano in Campania, Italy makes some of the most diverse wines and have been doing so for THOUSANDS of years, but it wasn't until the Greek colonization (800BC) that vinification was widely introduced to Italy.

Things stayed steady until the Romans defeated the Carthaginians in the 2nd century BC and winemaking flourished throughout Italy. Interestingly, the Romans outlawed winemaking outside of Italy during this time to increase it's scarcity and, in fact, used wine to trade for goods and slaves.

Onward a couple of thousand years to about 1852 and both an exodus to the West by Italians as well as founding winemakers seeking out further varieties of wine grapes and the Italian diversity makes it's
way to Sonoma County.

Lucky for us, there's been much in the way of both progress in vinification as well as an expansion of Italian native grapes. More than just Zinfandel (Primitivo) more than 20 varieties are grown in California and more specifically, Sonoma County.

Nico Wines is a recent (2006) addition to the Sonoma County winery list, but one that's gone deep with their focus on Italian varieties.

Their just released 2012 Barbera is the newest addition to their cellar and it's quite a stunner! In Italy, Barbera was typically harvested a couple of weeks earlier than the more prized Nebbiolo and it was usually what you drank while waiting for the Barolos to age.

No longer playing 2nd fiddle, this Barbera is a delicately crafted of 100% Barbera fruit and comes it at 13.9% abv, allowing it to play nice with meats like duck, boar, chicken as well as salmon. It's extremely well balanced front to back on the palate and presents quite unassumingly with lovely subdued notes of raspberries, currents as well as nice umami textures & tastes like delicate crimini mushrooms.

We enjoyed this with pumpkin ravioli, troffi al pesto as well a grass-fed steak at Riviera Restaurant in Sonoma County keeping it all local.

This, and all of Nico Wines are available at their online store.

2012 Nico Wines Barbera
Retail: $22
Grade: A

(note: this sample was provided to us at no cost)

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