Barbaresco is a red wine and is widely known as the little brother of Barolo. Both of these red wines are produced in the Piedmont area of Italy, from 100% Nebbiolo grape.
While Barolo wines are thick and rich, Barbaresco wines are more aromatic and elegant, yet still powerful. The cause of this difference can be found in the soil and the slightly different climate which allows the Nebbiolo, grapes used in Barbaresco, to ripen a little bit faster which in turn lessens the tannins the grape skin releases. Barbaresco heritage is only a few hundred years old. The Barbaresco area is much smaller than the Barolo area, with only 1,200 acres being planted.
The soils are lighter in Barbaresco – both in weight and color – than in Barolo and more calcareous. The slopes are also less favourably situated and consequently yield earlier-maturing, yet extremely elegant wines that require less oak ageing. The appellation’s key districts are Barbaresco, Treiso, Alba and Neive.
DOCG regulations stipulate that Barbaresco wines must be a minimum of 12.5% alcohol, and 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(Reserve) wine.
Barbaresco wines are considered, by wine critics, to be some of the finest wines of Italy and among the great red wines in the world.
Domizio Cavazza may be credited with virtually creating the Barbaresco wines of today. Although Guido Rocca had produced dry wine from the Nebbiolo at the Castle of Barbaresco, it was Domizio Cavazza who ensured that going forward this was going be the recognized style of the wine called Barbaresco. In 1894 he organized a cooperative of growers to make wine solely from the Nebbiolo grape, fermented out, dry, and able to benefit from age in wood and bottle, and so Barbaresco style wines were born.
Barbaresco was granted DOC status in 1966 and DOCG status in 1980.
Barbaresco appellation’s key districts are Barbaresco, Treiso, Alba and Neive, which are to be found in Italy's North Western Piedmont region. These regions consist mainly of soils composed of Calcium Carbonate, in other words chalky soils high in lime content.
The typical style of a Barbaresco has bouquets of roses or violets with flavor notes of fennel, truffles, cherry and licorice. As it ages Barbaresco wines can develop smoky notes and more earthy and animal flavors like tar and leather. When young Barbaresco wines can tend to be extremely tannic and tight. They should be aged for 5 to 10 years to let the wine develop character and depth.
A classic pairing for Barbaresco is beef braised in red wine, but it can be excellent with game birds and pasta with shaved white truffles.