Barbera is traced back to the hills Monferrrato during the 13th century, and makes up nearly half of the Piemonte grape production to this day. Piemonte generally has poor, calcareous soil, which tames this otherwise vigorous grape to produce lower yields. The limited yields also benefit from Piemonte’s warmer weather, which raises the residual sugar in order to balance the grape’s natural acidic and tannic character. In fact, Barbera lends itself so well to the Piemonte climate, it ripens two weeks prior to it’s counterpart, Nebbiolo. However, depending on the vintage sometimes the enologist will leave the Barbera on the vine to ripen it more thoroughly. Regardless of when it is picked, the Barbera grape is the “work horse” of the Piemonte region and one of the most produced grapes in Italy.
Typical characteristics of Barbera are a deep ruby color, high acidity, and slightly tannic. Aromas from the grape are usually plum, cherry, raspberry, black pepper, and baking spices.