Stage #33 of Sommelier Wine Box (December 2020, led by sommelier Nicola Bonera) was dedicated to the great Piedmont, with Nebbiolo and Barbera, two sides of the same - wonderful - coin.
Talking about Piedmont is always reductive: every corner of this region reserves surprises, the wine panorama is so wide that it makes your head spin, the native grapes are countless, as are the extraordinary results linked to the vines international.
Among them all, however, two grapes emerge, a king and a queen, a philosopher king and a peasant queen: Nebbiolo and Barbera .
Nebbiolo, for its mysterious charm, for its history, for its unique characteristics, and its Barbera, one male and the other female, this is how they have always been married...
Nebbiolo is austere, tannic and colourful crepuscular, decidedly complex and difficult to cultivate, absolutely selective on the production area. Only in three areas does it stand out: the Langhe, the Roero and Upper Piedmont; mythical names, territories sometimes difficult but very rich in charm. The hills of the Langhe are gentler, with beautiful villages overlooking the vineyards, magnificent villages like Neive, Barbaresco, La Morra, Barolo and many others, where Nebbiolo, thanks to the clays deep and fossil marls, becomes a companion of generations (in the sense that often ages as much as the generation that produced it). Wilder and rural Roero , with some magnificent fortifications to protect the territory, where Nebbiolo is born on sand, it is fresher and evolves more rapidly. Difficult, with marked slopes and difficult climatic situations is the upper Piedmont , where the Nebbiolo becomes more ferrous and mineral, for via dei porphyry, quartz and the legacies of the Valsesia supervolcano.
Normally at Nebbiolo requires years of refinement to best express itself, giving us the great Barolo, Barbaresco, Ghemme, Gattinara, Roero Riserva; sometimes even the youthful versions are already appreciable, which happens with Nebbiolo d'Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo.
La Barbera , in all this magnificent stage, often has a supporting role, that is, it occupies the positions left free from Nebbiolo, but acquires equal wealth from the same lands; the acidity it is its main interpretation, almost brazen, that wants to attract the taster's sip. It is a vine that has made it possible, thanks to its generosity productive, the survival of generations of peasant families.
In recent years Barbera has taken a few whims, arriving on stages that previously they were forbidden to her: the wise use of wood, the selections in the vineyard and the know-how of enlightened producers have allowed her to demonstrate all the its value, with labels capable of surprising even on an international level.