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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.
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In Piemonte, Barbera is the main grape of four different appellations:
Barbera d’Asti DOCG
(encompassing an area surrounding the towns of Asti and Alessandria, and requiring the use of 90% or more of Barbera grapes and a minimum aging of 4 months for the base version or 14 months, of which at least 6 months in wood barrels for the “Superiore” version).
Barbera del Monferrato Superiore DOCG
(encompassing the Monferrato district near Alessandria and an area near the town of Asti, requiring the use of 85% or more of Barbera grapes and a minimum aging of 14 months, of which at least 6 months in wood barrels).
Barbera Grapes

Barbera d’Alba DOC (encompassing an area in the vicinities of the town of Cuneo and requiring the use of 85% or more of Barbera grapes)
Barbera del Monferrato DOC
(encompassing the Monferrato district near Alessandria and an area near the town of Asti, requiring the use of 85% or more of Barbera grapes).

Given its wide distribution, Barbera is produced in a variety of styles, ranging from simpler, “younger” versions that are only aged in steel vats to more structured and evolved versions that are aged in oak barrels, including sometimes barrique casks.

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