I’m finding it hard reaching for red this Thirsty Thursday. It is still August. Summer has yet to leave us. I do not want to hear the word Fall. But then we have Barbera.
Barbera makes for a staple red wine of the North, attached to regions like Asti and Alba. Yet nearly filling the Piedmont region and enveloping the familiar appellations of Asti and Alba ranges Monferrato: a hilly swath south of Turin (Torino).
Today’s Barbera del Monferrato DOC comes from Marchese di Barolo: grandaddy of famed, classic Barolo and Barbaresco. It is 100% Barbera. Yet because Monferrato is massive (that huge pink blob mapped above), this wine will be under $10 on any respectable shelf.
Marchesi di Barolo titled it “Maraia”: or rowdy kids. You know, the ones with the one-eyed dog, who roam the streets burning ants with a magnifying glass, playing endless amounts of baseball, and ending up in every single film from 1980 until 1995: when it stopped being cute.
So what does an inexpensive bottle of little rascals taste like?
Appearance: It has a clear yet dense purple ruby color with a short clear rim.
Aroma: At first soft vanilla and dry leaf (6 months of oak) then morph into a warming, intense black cherry syrup.
Palate: Snappy and dry, the palate prances about with bright, chattering acidity, minor tannin, and a medium minus body.
Flavors: A moderately intense array of bramble berries that blacken fingers leads, followed by tart orange juice, and finished with a light dusting of oak ash.
Conclusions: MdB’s Maraia Barbera is simple, playful, and delightful. It displays Barbera’s twangy fruit mostly unadorned by oak. It is a perfect wine for the fruit and acid of red tomatoes: from caprese salad to pasta. Well done (3 of 5) and perfect for summer.