2015 Vietti Barbera d’Asti La Crena

Early one Saturday morning a friend rang and said he was standing next to a six pack of this at the importer’s wholesale bin end sale. Shame it’s only from Asti and not one of the Alba versions I said, thinking I knew something about these things. Well, wrong, as this vineyard has plantings going back to 1932 and is as much treasured by the Vietti as anything closer to Alba and similarly priced, alas. Hooray for bin end sales. Opens as cleanly and impeccably fragrant as Viettis always seem to do. Rich dark blue and black fruit, sort of cherry and a hint of blueberry, classic Piemonte earth and licorice. At first there’s that very ripe fluidity that suggests it’s a bit too slick but over a day or two the fruit gets fresher and carries further on that superb Barbera acidity. Refreshment and authenticity. The oak’s only a nutty hint hiding behind the weight and drive of some deeply generous fruit. Great craft in the growing and the making. Vietti, authority writ large. Don’t think I can resist opening one of my tiny collection of their Baroli soon.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. Bargain thanks to the wine frenzy sale.

94 points.

2017 Giuseppe Cortese Barbera d’Alba

Another lucky win on the addictive on line auction site, this is fantastically bright, spotlessly clean and full of a spankingly fresh essence of Barbera from the mighty Langhe. Rich cherry and dark raspberry fruit with a touch of aniseed, spice and that wonderful stony mineral thing that those Piemonte hills do so well. One of the distinctive joys of good Barbera is its ability to cut even the ripest fruit with a pure crunch of mouthwatering acidity, making it almost essential for a nicely oily and tomato rich pizza. Not sure how this may develop as it disappeared with alarming haste as did said pizza. Joy.

14% alcohol. Cork. $23 auction bid, probably nearer $40 full retail. Lucky.

93 punti deliciosi.

2016 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme

Seems odd that a bit of Italy that produces grapes with tannins to make stewed English tea look wimpy can also value a variety with virtually none. Sweet blackberries, toffee and an earthy stone flavour. Blood orange both in flavour and acidity. Synesthesia suggests purple and blue. It’s a strange perception but there it is. After a lot of stern tannin recently, it’s a surprisingly pleasant change for simple fresh ripe acidity to sweep clean. Roll on summer and a bowl of fresh, sun warmed tomato pasta.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap, bravo. $20, Murphy’s direct imports gets it right now and again.

91 points.

2018 Trediberri Barbera d’Alba

Beautifully labelled with art by a local Langhe artist, one of whose prints brightens the living room wall. Couldn’t resist the photo. The wine itself opens nice and clean with very ripe blackberry, plums and burnt toffee. With a bit of air, there’s a touch of Piemontese soil and a bit more freshness. Thankfully the richness is buffed into shape by that mouthwatering Barbera acidity which is somehow folded into the finish and hides the warmth of alcohol. The lack of tannin helps keep the focus on the bright fruit and acid. Not sure you’d notice the 15% if the label were not so honest. Bit of a big fellow en ballet pointe.

15% alcohol, careful sips. Screwcap, yes! $24 from the importer’s own invitational website shop. Bargain.

91 points.

2017 Piero Benevelli Langhe Rosso numero 3

If memory serves, tenuous but just possible, then this is the twins from Mondo Imports own dalliance with blending? 70% Barbera and 30% Nebbiolo combine seamlessly to make an extraordinarily delicious mouthful. Exquisitely balanced poise of floral perfume, brightest red fruit and cool Langhe mineral. Maybe the warmer year has pushed the Neb to be more friendly to the Barbera? Absolutely spotless and impossible to avoid another sip. Some wine demands unraveling and thought, some just need joyful drinking. This surely is the latter but as it’s Piemonte just a bit of the former? Bravissimo, D’Anna ragazzi, best one yet.

14% alcohol. Cork. $35 and a bargain.

93 points but plus for sheer lip smacking glee.

2016 Bruno Rocca Barbera d’Alba

Modernist, sweetly fruited and with a bit of lift to tickle the fancy. Very ripe, clean and crunchy cherries and plums but with just enough Langhe earthy stones and rocks to cut across. Slick and svelte but its roots still firmly in the Piemontese soil. Perhaps a bit more savouriness and austerity would be good. Nonetheless delicioso. The Bordeaux shaped bottle indicates the move away from rustic traditions perhaps? Bowl of tomato sauced pasta? Essential.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. $42.

91 points.

2016 G D Vajra Langhe Rosso

Really fresh, pure and crunchy red fruits with the flowers and bass of Nebbiolo stretching the spectrum of flavour. A blend it seems of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto with tiny bits of Freisa, Albarossa and surprise, Pinot Noir. First day of cracking the screwcap and the Nebb shows most, bit of a dull red colour and rusty flavour. Three days later, no hint of oxygen causing any damage. The colour actually deepened to bright red and the other components filled out the middle with beautifully poised, clean, red fruits like cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Some almond, spice and tar too. Mouthwatering acidity and a drag of Nebb tannin. Blimey, the Vajras are making such succinctly delicious stuff now. 2016 a star of a year.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap, yes! $30 bargain!

94 points.

2016 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Tre Vigne

Impeccable Vietti again. Sweetly ripe enough for immediate appeal but still plenty of  geological Piemontese..er…rocks, minerals. Poised acidity and a perfect tweak of very tasteful oak flavour and tannin. Fruit flavours are dark cherry and sort of red plum. Really would normally go for Dolcetto but Vietti put such care into Barbera it’s hard to say no when a Conad supermercato has just one bottle left.

14.00% alcohol. Diam! 12.50 euros believe it or not.

92 points.

2016 Marengo Barbera d’Alba Vigna Pugnane

Opened up straightaway quick smart with sweet berries and that earthy hard to describe any other way than Piemontese stoneyness. Rich, fresh and just medium weight. Maybe a pinch of barrel tannin for feel and salivating acidity seesaw the whole up and down. Second day the fruit filled out and the earthiness receded.

14% alcohol. Cork. 12.75 euros from another Conad supermercato.

92 points