Another excellent Barbera from the Piedmont. Just as a little background, Barbera D’asti is an Italian (you may have guessed that already) red wine made from the Barbera grape and produced in the northern provinces of Asti and Alexandria.
Damilano is a truly old school wine producer, with great respect for tradition and history. It is a family owned winery with its roots going back to the 1890’s when Giuseppe Borgogno, the great-grandfather of the current owners began growing his grapes on the family owned vineyard in Barolo in the Langhe area, which has become almost synonymous with Barbera wines. In America, as we have been led to recognize Budweiser as “The king of beers,” Barbera is a product of this beautiful and natural land where wine grapes are most revered, and they have produced what is recognized as “The king of wines” for centuries.
The Barbera grape can be traced back to the thirteenth century with origins seemingly in the hills of Monferrato in the Piedmont. It was accredited as DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) in 1970, and later upgraded to DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Each of these prestigious designations requires adherence to very strict rules and regulations, such as a guarantee of high quality and production within a specific region. The more DOCG designation even requires an analysis and a taste test to assure all standards are met. The first of these rules is that Barbera wine is made from at least 90% of the Barbera grape with the balance containing only Freisa, Grignolino or Dolcetto grapes. The wine must be made before March 1, with an alcohol content of at least 11.5%. There is absolutely no room here for error, no deviation or substitution as these rules are very strictly enforced, and have been since their inception.
So when Giacomo Damilano, the son-in-law of Giuseppe, took over the winery and gave it his name, he was faced with the very daunting task of innovating and modernizing the winery and its production, while maintaining the quality and upholding the tradition. His Barbera D’Asti was introduced in 2008 with a new challenge. A rental agreement between him and an 11 hectare vineyard in Casorzo in the province of Asti was struck. The vineyard, an area where the grapes have been grown since the 1800’s contains a white marl soil giving the wine a sort of ancient character. Damilano Barbera D’asti is a deep, ruby red color with an aroma of fruits such as cherries, currants and violets with a very slight essence of vanilla. It is aged in stainless steel tanks within a cement cellar to ensure temperature stability.
I found this wine to be a little lighter than other wines from the region. It is drinking very well now, and as with most reds, it will benefit from about two hours in a good, quality decanter. As a prelude to dinner, pour it slowly to get the full effect of its color and bouquet and the process will continue in the glass. This is a sipping wine to be sure. I will pair very well with beef and pork as well as wild game. We recently enjoyed it with our Sunday dinner of homemade pasta, sausages and a well-stuffed braciole.
With an average price of just under $20, this wine is an excellent value. The time spent in the decanter will soften it a bit, as well as introduce anticipation, as it is quite beautiful in the proper light, very aromatic and does sport a rather attractive bottle. But, on any level, this is an easy wine to enjoy as it pleases each sense individually. And if you choose to brag a bit, just mention that it did receive an impressive 90 point rating from both Wine Enthusiast Magazine and James Suckling.