When asked to name Italy’s finest, most prestigious appellation, I’d guess that most knowledgeable wine drinkers would come up with “Barolo”, and while there’s no definitive answer to this question, Barolo is a damn good one. But for the langhesi (what the folks from the Barolo, Barbaresco, etc. area are called in Italian), both the noblest wine, and the most quotidian are one in the same. When a child is born in the Langhe, it is a case of very fine Barbera that is laid down for the future, not Barolo. And some other bottle of Barbera is the most likely wine to be on these same people’s table on any given Tuesday.
And because Barbera is such a hardy workhorse in the vineyard, and a reliable, food-loving companion at the table, drinkers and producers alike neglect the variety’s ageability and its potential greatness. Barbera’s prominent, juicy acids, and complex fruit make it a perfect candidate to be raised in oak (new or old, French or Slavonian, large or small barrels), which colors and sculpts the fruit, and adds some tannic structure and complexity.
La Ghersa’s Camparo`cuvee` 2005 is a wine that serves up a fairly fat slice of the very best Barbera has to offer at a very low price. Made from 25+ year old vines planted in a super sunny south-southwest facing vineyard, and aged a year in large and small format barrels, both new and old, this wine clearly and eloquently states the case for Barbera’s inclusion on the dais with its more celebrated neighbors.
I served this superb value wine with egg pappardelle with a simple but punchy creamy sauce of broccoli, sultana raisins, and gorgonzola dolce, and then pork loin oven-braised (4 hours) in milk at very low temperatures (225 F.) with garlic, tomato paste, rosemary and sage, with soft polenta.
La Ghersa Barbera d’Asti “Camparo`” 2005
“Dusty”, slightly brown/black garnet color. Complex and serious nose of dried fruit, woodsy spice, dried flowers, and roasted meat juices. The medium-weight body is muscular and sinewy with a seductive satiny texture and pointy, juicy flavors of cranberries, maraschino cherries, and mulled black tea.