While we took a look at Barbaresco wine fairly recently, our examination into this extremely famous Italian red wine was by no means exhaustive. We took a really in-depth look into the history of the wine, particularly looking at one of the producers who not only made a name for themselves by producing it, but also raised the stock of the wine to the point where it has become one of the most famous produced in Italy, but there is still plenty of information out there for fans of Barbaresco to dig their teeth into.
With this article, we aim to cover what we may have missed about a month ago, in addition to helping those who might have missed out previous piece get back up to speed. We will again be looking at the history of Barbaresco, only this time around we will be paying much more attention to the vineyards and various communes that are renowned for production of this amazing Italian red wine.
So, let’s start with a more basic run through the history of Barbaresco.
Though they are both made using the Nebbiolo grape, Barbaresco did not enjoy the traditional reputation of Barolo, which many refer to as the King of Wines. In fact, many people traditionally looked at Barbaresco as something of a weaker cousin to Barolo, with some relegating it to being a simple table or dessert wine.
Though wines has been produced in the Barbaresco region using the Nebbiolo grapes for centuries beforehand, the generally accepted birthdate of Barbaresco as a wine with its own unique qualities and attributes is 1894.
This is when Cantina Sociale di Barbaresco, which created something of a coop group for Nebbiolo producers in Barbaresco. What the cantina did was provide options to grape growers. Instead of selling their Nebbiolo grapes for use in the production of Barolo, the cantina offered them the chance to sell to local wine producers who would instead use them in the creation of wines that were more representative of the region.
Though the founding of the cantina got Barbaresco off to a good start, the premature death of one of its founders, Domizio Cavazza, and the onset of World War I put a major dent into the wine’s progress.
Still, a start has been made and more people than ever were starting to see Barbaresco as a good Italian red wine, if not yet one of the greats. That all began to change in the 1950s thanks to a new generation of winemakers who all poured their absolute all into the production of Barbaresco.
During this period of the mid-20th century, Barbaresco not only enjoyed a huge upsurge when it comes to quality, but also started to become much more popular among domestic drinkers. By the 1960s, inroads were already being made in international markets and the foundations for Barbaresco’s growth into the wine we know and love today were completed.
Today, thanks to the work of dedicated producers and a number of cooperative efforts, Barbaresco is revered as one of the truly great Italian red wines. It sells in large quantities, both domestically and overseas, with many believing that it has finally stepped out from the shadow of its more illustrious cousin.
The Three Main Regions
While we generalize the Barbaresco production region with the name of the wine, the fact is that there are three regions which are used in the production of Nebbiolo grapes that go into Barbaresco wine.
The key linking these three regions is soil. The Barbaresco zone, as it’s called, features soil that is made up mostly of what is known as calcareous marl, which is a soil material that finds its roots in the Tortonian epoch, which occurred millions of years ago.
The three regions are the eponymous Barbaresco region, which is complemented by Neive and Treiso. Each enjoys similar soil and climate conditions, meaning the Nebbiolo grapes grown in them are used widely in Barbaresco wine production. Let’s now examine each region on its own.
Responsible for about 45 percent of the Barbaresco production in Italy, this region is absolutely rife with vineyards and also plays host to some of the largest wineries dedicated to Barbaresco production. The wines from this region tend to have fairly light colouring, which can often throw people off when they are looking for red wines with deeper hues, but the drink itself will usually be wonderfully aromatic and have a strong structure. As such, if you have tried Barbaresco before without really exploring the wine in depth, it is likely that the vintage you sampled came from this region.
Neive is a large wine region that is responsible for the growth of far more than just the Nebbiolo grape. Though it contributes about 31 percent of the grapes used in Barbaresco wine production, Neive also grows the Dolcetto, Barbera, and Moscato grapes, perhaps making it one of the more versatile wine production regions in Italy. Barbaresco wines produced in this region tend to be a little more full-bodied and tannic than those grown in the other two regions, which makes them favourites of those who prefer a little more complexity in their wines.
The Treiso region is located just to the south of the Barbaresco region, so naturally it has a lot in common with it. Nebbiolo vineyards in Treiso tend to be located right on the highest of the region’s hilltops, with the region itself contributing to about 20 percent of the Barbaresco zone’s production. As a general rule, Barbaresco wines from this region will usually be a little lighter when it comes to the body of the wine, making them more palatable to those who don’t often drink red wine and people who are looking for a slightly simpler wine. However, enthusiasts will often point to the finesse of a Treiso wine as being one of its major selling points, as they do offer a surprising amount of complexity for those who are willing to dig a little deeper into the wine.