Autumn means changing colors and cooler temperatures. For me, especially on chillier evenings, it also means grabbing a red wine; I crave something lively and interesting yet approachable. For this, I head to Piemonte, Italy and reach for Barbaresco.
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The Italian Food, Wine and Travel writers and bloggers spend the last quarter of 2021 with the three ‘Bs’ featuring Barbaresco and the Nebbiolo grape in November. (October was Brunello di Montalcino and December is Barolo.) On the Crushed Grape Chronicles website, our host Robin gives a preview of the month. Scrolling down here gives you a plethora of reasons why to love Barbaresco from others in the #ItalianFWT group!
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Like the sherry I wrote about last month, chances are for many, Barbaresco is also misunderstood. Italian wine author, lecturer and critic Kerin O’Keefe describes it like this:
“Full-bodied and intense, the (Barbaresco) wine is more about complexity and elegance and less about sheer muscle.
While Barbaresco can have austere, Barolo-like structure, it typically doesn’t have the same tannic force as its cousin. And, while age-worthy, it tends to be approachable sooner. It makes Barbaresco a perfect fit for wine lovers looking for terroir-driven wines that possess energy and finesse.” (source)
Barbaresco wines are usually lighter, more elegant and faster maturing than Barolo. Yet this depends on the specific area within the growing zone and the producer style. Aging requirements differ too: Barbaresco two years versus three for Barolo. Don’t think this means one is better than the other, not at all! It comes down to preferred style.
Barbaresco is a not-easy-to-find wine in Bordeaux. Sure a few higher end wine shops have a bottle, maybe two. Yet I enjoy the hunt, which for Italian wines means online. One of my caveats was only producers embracing sustainable farming and operational methods. After some searching, I settled on a Barbaresco from the smaller producer Adriano (160,000 bottles annually).
The Adriano family farming roots go back to the early 1900s in the heart of the Lange region in Piemonte. Great grandpa Giuseppe Adriano planted the first vines then settled in the small town San Rocco Seno d’Elvio. This is the southernmost area of the Alba province (ten minutes from Alba) where they remain today.
Supported by their families, brothers Marco and Vittorio Adriano took over the operation in 1994. About 50 hectares of land include hazelnut groves and vineyards (30 hectares / 74 acres) surrounded by flourishing woods. The land and farm are protected by the family as an element of biodiversity.
Tasting Adriano Barbaresco Sanadaive 2018
The first thing you notice smelling this wine are the fairly pronounced tart red cherry and wild red berry aromas. Wow! Then I got violet, tilled earth, and menthol hints reminding me of walking through a cedar or pine forest. The palate shares the aromas… fruity and rich. On a medium body it displays ‘wake you up’ tart yet harmonious acidity and that Nebbiolo fine tannin tug. Oh yes, this is Nebbiolo! Plenty of savory verve on the medium-long finish… one sassy-elegant wine.
Adriano Sanadaive is a sensational Barbaresco DOCG wine within monetary reach at between $25 and $30. 14% abv.
Braised Oxtails Paired With Nebbiolo
Sifting through Italian recipes, I decided on a braised stew featuring oxtails called Brasato di Coda di Bue. Braised beef is common in Italy with many regional variations. I threw in extra carrots and went heavy on the roasted vegetables and served a side salad with fresh figs and hazelnuts.
Nebbiolo is notable for acidity and the Sanadaive Barbaresco met its match with this dish. The acidity cut through the richness of the beef and stood up to the earthiness of the thickened braising sauce. A delicious combo! (Scroll to the bottom for the recipe.)
Cantina Adriano Committing to Green
After no chemical use in ten years, the brothers joined the collective brand The Green Experience. This ‘project’ focuses on ecological improvements of vineyards and the eco management of the surrounding landscape. Of ultimate concern to the family is maintaining their land thus obtaining the certification was a given.
The enlightening thing about this ‘project’ is the ‘custom-made’ aspect. Solely developed for the wines of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, with intent to expand throughout Piedmont, who better to develop a green certification than those who live in the area. If you think about it, each wine area has a unique peculiarity!
The brothers also invested in the production of eco-friendly energy with a photovoltaic system and a phytopurification plant for cellar wastewater cleaning.
Click here to learn more about The Green Experience and their ten rules.
The Italian Food, Wine, Travel Group Shares Barbaresco
- Wendy with A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Pure Comfort~~Roast Chicken, Wild Rice Pilaf, and a Glass of Barbaresco Wine
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Risotto ai Tre Funghi, Rosticciana al Forno, + Fontanafredda Silver Label Barbaresco 2015
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest is Reaching for Barbaresco Basarin with Marco and Vittorio Adriano
- Susannah of Avvinare is Exploring The Beauty of Barbaresco
- Marcia of Joy of Wine is pairing Hearty Beef Stew and Barbaresco
- Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog has a 2017 Riva Leone Barbaresco Paired With Italian Fare and Friends
- Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator shares Affordable Riva Leone Barbaresco Meets Bolognese
- Nicole of Somm’s Table will share An Anniversary Celebration with La Spinetta Vursu Gallina Barbaresco and Braised Spatchcocked Duck
- Jennifer of Vino Travels shares The Beauty of Barbaresco with Vite Colte
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares Barbaresco and Thanksgiving Flavors
We are chatting up everything Barbaresco on Twitter this Saturday, November 6, at 11:00 am ET and 17:00 CET. Everyone is invited- look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag.
Braised Oxtail Stew
- Season the oxtails with salt and pepper on all sides. Dust them with the flour.
- Heat the oil in an enamel or stainless pot or other ovenproof pot on medium-high. Brown the oxtails in batches on all sides. Remove and set aside.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, season with salt and pepper. (If the pot is drier, you might have to add more oil.) Cook until they start to soften, 4-5 minutes, scraping the browned bits from the pan as they cook.
- Return oxtails to the pan, placing them on top of the vegetables. Add the bay leaves and cloves, then the wine, which will come up the sides of the oxtails submerging them half way.
- Turn the heat to low and cover, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat is tender and falling apart when you pull it with a fork, about 2 ½ to 4 hours. Note the wine will reduce while cooking.
- Remove the oxtails to a plate and remove the meat from the bones; set aside.
- Remove the vegetables from the liquid and place on top of the meat.
- Bring the liquid to a light boil and continue to reduce until it thickens enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. Finish the sauce with a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of butter.
- Stir the meat and vegetables back into the sauce. Serve with polenta (I sliced a polenta log and browned the pieces). Spoon a little sauce over the top and serve immediately.