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Wine Advisor Express:
Barbera again

Let's follow up on yesterday's report of an Italian Barbera in a "New World" style with a quick look at another Barbera. Although it comes from the same region and is made from the same grape as yesterday's Parusso Barbera d'Alba, this one seems more typical of its origins in Piemonte (literally "foothills"), the hilly, wooded landscape of northeastern Italy around Torino. There's a clear kinship, but the wine's personality is different, more subtle if not quite as "fruit-forward."

Barbera is a surprisingly widely planted grape in Italy - surprising, that is, in that its predominance in the vineyards (where it is said to be the nation's No. 1 red grape, ahead of even the Sangiovese of Chianti) does not seem to be reflected in the presence of Barbera on retail shelves in the rest of the world. Perhaps the Piemontese keep much of it at home, accepting it for what it is - a hearty red wine that's affordable and easy to drink - while saving the region's pricey and ageworthy Nebbiolo-based Barolo and Barbaresco for export ... and special occasions.

You'll also find an occasional Barbera from California, typically brought over by the wine country's Italian immigrant ancestors and carried on by their descendants.

No pale, wimpy wine, Barbera stands out as a dark, full-bodied wine with a high degree of acidity that can make it almost tangy for sipping by itself, but a great companion with red meat - even game - and tomato-sauced dishes. This one is an excellent example of the style, made by the young and well-reputed Barolo producer Domenico Clerico.

Clerico 1998 "Trevigne" Barbera d'Alba ($16.99)
Very dark garnet in color, this wine shows full and earthy scents of black plums and licorice, aromas that carry over on the palate as a mouth-filling gulp, lemon-tart and softly tannic - a wine made for red meat. U.S. importer: Giuliana Imports, Boulder, Colo.; a Marc de Grazia Selection. (Nov. 28, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: A half-leg of lamb braised in red wine and balsamic vinegar on a bed of onions, fresh rosemary and black olives (a Modena dish from Lynn Rossetto Kasper's "Italian Country Table") offers the robust fare needed to stand up to this hearty red.

Join me on a trip to
the Rhone and Provence

I invite you to join me next June in a seven-day journey through the southern Rhone Valley and Provence, sponsored by French Wine Explorers, a high-quality American tour company that specializes in wine tours of France.

Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin, sommeliers-conseil who live in France, will join me to present this tour, which will feature a week of in-depth exploration of the wines of these two beautiful regions.

The tour is limited to 16 participants, so reservations will remain open only until these places are filled. For more information, click to the details at

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page,

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Thursday, Nov. 29, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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