Barbaresco is a wine for lovers of big and bold, according to Joshua Mason of Micky Finn's, who describes it as the "mortal enemy" of Cabernet Franc in terms of food pairing and taste.
Cabernet Franc is a versatile grape which is very user friendly when it comes to food matching. White meats such as pork and chicken, as well as vegetable dishes suit the grape variety well, but if "cab franc enhances these foods, Barbaresco is its mortal enemy", Mr Mason explains.
Barbaresco is made with the Nebbiolo grape, and is produced in the Piedmont region east of Alba. It is a complete meat lovers wine. Mr Mason says: "If cabernet franc is an omnivore, then Barbaresco is pretty much a carnivore." This is a wine for beef and lamb, and suits drinkers who like big and bold flavours to accompany their red meats.
North Italy works in a similar way to the Bordeaux/Burgundy rivalry. In Bordeaux, wines are made from a blend of grapes, whereas Burgundy is only one. This is the same as Barberesco, which is produced with only nebbiolo, in contrast to the Super Tuscan wines, which are generally blends of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Barbaresco can sometimes be overshadowed by its neighbour Borolo, which is also made from nebbiolo. Both wines are defined by the grape, with harsh tannins and acidity meaning that the wines are usually better aged rather than drunk straight away.
The surroundings play a big role in forming this harsh wine, with the hills and sea vitally important to Piedmont wines. Nebbiolo is traditionally grown in cool, even cold weather, but this meant that wines were too harsh to drink for years, which called for changes in the region.
Temperature-controlled fermentation have made Barbaresco a viable wine without the wait. By making fermentation warmer, winemakers have avoided the harsh tannins to make smoother wine which can be consumed within years. But they haven't spoilt the traditional flavours of the wine, which are still deep and heavy, making it the perfect choice for big beef, fatty sausages, luscious lamb, mounds of pasta and monster risotto.
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