Barbaresco is an Italian wine made with the Nebbiolo grape. Barbaresco is produced in the Piedmont region in an area of the Langhe immediately to the east of Alba and specifically in the comunes of Barbaresco, Treiso and Neive plus that area of the frazione San Rocco Senodelvio which was once part of the comune of Barbaresco and now belongs to the comune of Alba. It was granted Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) status in 1966 and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita status in 1980. The wine is often compared with Barolo-another Nebbiolo based wine from the Piedmont area. Though the wines do share many similarities, there are some distinct differences between them.
Like most red wines, Barbarescos become lighter, more brick in color. This wine is from the 1976 vintage.
DOCG regulations stipulate that Barbaresco wines must be aged for a minimum of 2 years (at least 1 year in oak) prior to release and aged for at least 4 years to be considered a riserva. The wines must have a minimum 12.5% alcohol level though most wines are closer to 13.5%. Well-made examples of Barbaresco wines are expected to be aged at least 5 to 10 years after vintage before they are consumed, as they are extremely tannic and tight in their youth, and some continue to drink well even after 20 years. The typical style of a Barbaresco has bouquets of roses or violets with flavor notes of cherry, truffles, fennel and licorice. As the wine ages, it can develop smoky notes and more earthy and animal flavors like leather and tar.
*Differences with Barolo*
Despite being made from the same grape and produced in neighboring areas less than 10 miles from each other, the wines of Barbaresco and Barolo do have some distinct differences. Located south of the river Tanaro, the Barbaresco zone receives a slight maritime influence which allows Nebbiolo to ripen here a little earlier than it does in the Barolo zone. This allows the grape to get to fermentation earlier with a shorter maceration time. The early tannins in a young Barbaresco are not quite as harsh as Barolo and under DOCG rules it is allowed to age for a year less than Barolo. The Barolo wines that tend to be closer in body, fruitiness, and perfume to Barbaresco wines are generally the ones produced near the villages of La Morra and Barolo. The most pronounced difference between the two wines is that the tannins of Barbaresco tend to soften quicker, which can make the wines more approachable to drink at an earlier age but won’t allow it to age for as long as a traditionally made Barolo could. The smaller vineyard areas mean that annual production of Barbaresco is around 35% the production of Barolo and therefore the wines are not as widely available out on the market. However, the smaller area does generally produce more consistent profiles among the Barbarescos than across the more expansive Barolo zone.
fn1. Source: Wikipedia (Barbaresco)