A grape variety that only arrived in the Langhe towards the end of the 19th century, imported from the nearby Asti territory. Its character is extremely different from those exuberantly tannic varieties - Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. Very low in tannins, with a roar of fruit and color, good productivity and resistance to diseases, Barbera is a reliable, high yield grape that gives us wines based more on power than on finesse. Here in its adoptive land it's capable of giving us long-lived and important wines, thanks to the marl clay-limestone soils of the region, at times longer living than Nebbiolo, though not as complex in its evolution.
Since ever in San Fereolo, say since 1995, I have had the desire to return to the austerity and aromatic aspects of Slavonian oak for barbera, in a period dominated by French oak. At the same time there was a desire to allow these wines to remain somewhat "dirty" during their evolution in smaller barrels and to encourage the sweetness and fruit. The challenge was to make a Barbera that would know how, at times, to bring out and to hide the two souls of this wine. One soul, more Piedmontese and serious, and the other more international, thanks to the immediately enjoyable and approachable nature of its fruit.
The land is located in the commune of Dogliani, primarily in the vineyard of Austri, with exposure to the southeast to southwest, sheltered from the wind at 400 meters above sea level. The soil is medium textured and prevalently limestone, located in the sub zone of Valdiberti. Other small plots are Costabella and Cerri Sottani, with exposure to the south and southwest, located in Valdiba'. The vines are cultivated using a simple Guyot, with a plant density ranging from 4000 to 5000 vines per hectare. The plots are cultivated according to the principles of biodynamic agriculture, which foresee a different approach to soil fertility and the use of copper and sulfur in very small quantities. The yield of wine per hectare varies according to the year from 35 to 40 hectoliters.
Hand picked around the first week of October and brought to the cellar in fifty-pound boxes, after being destemmed and crushed, barbera is fermented in wooden vats, without selected yeasts or additives. The temperature is not controlled unless it reaches 33°C. at the end of alcoholic fermentation the wine is soaked on the skins for another four or five days.
After removing the wine from the skins, malolactic fermentation was favored through temperature control in the cellar. The wine remained in wood barrels, 7 to 40 hectoliters, for 16 months in suspension on the fine lees and 'batonnage' was performed, with decreasing frequency as the aging period progressed. The wine was then moved into steel for a brief period before bottling in the summer of 2007 and was ready to be sold starting in September 2008..
The year 2005 was characterized by slightly inferior thermal summations as compared to the preceding years. A cooler summer, although not necessarily rainy, led to higher acidity and less overbearing alcohol. On the other hand slower ripening of the fruit gave us an aromatic framework of great finesse. Compared to the 2004 this Austri is a fruitier and less serious wine.
A Barbera that is rich yet elegant, where the contribution of wood is very discreet and a small percentage of Nebbiolo adds finesse to the impetuous nature of this grape variety. Intense and vinous with notes of rose petals, peony and gardenia, veering towards red fruits, pepper and bay leaves. It enters the mouth firm and warm and finishes sapid with notes of cherry.
Clean and precise with good acidity, long distance runner and persistent with pacer's rhythm. Shy on the nose, it offers scents of cocoa, chocolate, tobacco and licorice with soft and warm tannins in perfect Barbera style. 2001 was a classic vintage, in which heat, rain and light alternated without excesses, but with that Golden measure that allows the expression of typical Piedmontese auste- rity. This is the last vintage that still contains Barbera grapes from the San Fereolo vineyard.
It enters the palate with hints of red fruits, raspberry and blackcurrant along with delicate balsamic notes. An intriguing beginning, warm and full with a very rich and juicy ending. 2003 was one of the most memorable years for its atypical nature. A hot summer brou- ght the Barbera grapes to quick maturity by the end of September. A grape that took advantage of the heat, not suffering from drought as Dolcetto and Nebbiolo did, but still reaping the benefits of increased ventilation and coolness from the Alps, that allows Dogliani wines to maintain their freshness. Particular attention was paid to the temperature and duration of maceration to avoid excess and scents of over ripeness.
Powerful and muscular, it plays on soft notes with sharp corners that highlight its drinkability. Pepper and plum, moss and strawberry. The tannins are clear and soft, while he pulls acidity and fragrance from his back pocket. Vertical and gifted with a length that closes tight.
2004 was another classic vintage, where the word classic exemplifies the quintessen- tial sober and straightforward Piedmontese character. In some respects comparable to 2001, but with more regular trends in fruit maturation and without excess. Harvest took place between the first and second decade of October. Higher alcohol was achie- ved thanks to intense sunny days in late summer, which also favored drying in some grape clusters. This is the first vintage where the wine was left in suspension on its fine lees during barrel aging.