Barbaresco is a red Italian wine produced from Nebbiolo grape, often called “the younger brother” of Barolo. These wines have certain similarities, but if you compare them, you will see their differences in ripening, aging, and taste. Simply put, Barbaresco tends to be lighter than Barolo, and is considered more aromatic, refined and elegant than rich and powerful Barolo.
Both Barolo and Barbaresco red wines are made in the Piedmont area of Italy, to the east of Alba. The Barbaresco is planted on a much smaller area than that used for Barolo, only around 1,200 acres. Basically, these two varieties are produced in neighboring areas less than 10 miles from each other. However, the Barbaresco zone tends to receive some maritime influence, and Nebbiolo ripens in this zone a little earlier than in the Barolo area. It means that the grape gets to fermentation earlier, which makes young Barbaresco not as harsh as Barolo. In other words, the tannins of Barbaresco soften quicker, making the wines more pleasant to drink at an earlier age. At the same time, this fact doesn’t allow Barbaresco wine to age for as long as traditional Barolo wine.
Barbarescos usually age for a year less than Barolo, having the aging threshold of two years, one of which must be in wooden barrels. Riserva Barbaresco must be aged for a minimum of three years.
The annual production of Barbaresco is around 35% the production of Barolo, and therefore the wines are not as widely available on the market. Some of the finest Barbaresco single-vineyards nowadays are Vingeto Marcarini, Sori Tildin, Sori Rio Sardo, Camp Gros, Martinenga, Bric Turot, Caparossa, Bricco Asili, Basarin, Rabaja, Sori Burdin, Cole, Masseria, San Stefanetto, Vignetto Loreto, Vigneto Starderi, Bernadot, Faset, Pajore, Borgese, Baluchin, Montobert, Cotta, Roncaglia, Sori Paitin, Micca, Nervo, Sori San Lorenzo, Spress, Darmaji, Promis, Magari, Sito Moresco, Cascina Bordino, Fansoni, Vigneto Valerin and others.
Barbaresco has a garnet-red color, and a complex bouquet with ethereal, spicy aroma. Barbaresco wines have some perfumed sweetness in spite of the fact that they are dry. Young Barbaresco displays fruity aroma and a spiced, tannic finish, while mature wine has a more velvety, well-balanced, smooth finish. Barbaresco wine must have a minimum of 12.5% alcohol.
This beautiful wine is best served at a temperature of 60-65º F. Barbaresco pairs perfectly well with grilled meat, game, poultry, fowl, fondues, white truffle dishes, and medium and mature cheeses.