Reaching for Barbaresco with Marco and Vittorio Adriano (#ItalianFWT)

Sannadaive barbaresco 2018 food pairingAdriano Marco VittorioAutumn 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.

Piemonte Italy

The growing area of Barbaresco (in purple) is small, just under 1,900 acres and together with Barolo, equals just 3% of overall Piemonte wine production. Barbaresco DOC and DOCG wines (made with 100% Nebbiolo) are made in three townships in the Langhe: Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso. A minute part of the denomination lies in San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny town next to Alba. That’s where my featured wine comes from. Map source: Wandering Italy

Finding Barbaresco

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

piemonte barbaresco Adriano Marco e VittorioThe 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.)

Braised Oxtail Stew Barbaresco

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

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 Barbaresco
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Braised Oxtail Stew

Called Brasato di Coda di Bue in Italian, this stew is a perfect pairing with Barbaresco. It, along with the wine, will make 4 to 6 people very happy. Total cooking time is two to four hours depending on stove top or slow cooker (see notes).
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people


  • 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.


You can also make this in a slow cooker. Sear the oxtails then brown the vegetables separately. Then add the vegetables to the cooker, topping with the meat then wine. Cook low and slow- about 3 to 4 hours on low.

8 thoughts on “Reaching for Barbaresco with Marco and Vittorio Adriano (#ItalianFWT)

    1. Lynn Post author

      Thanks Martin! I like the (general) affordability of Barbaresco as compared to Brunello or Barolo. Yes to more in our glasses!

  1. marcia

    Isn’t it great when a pairing works out magically? I love that! I’ve actually never heard of this winery and I know it wasn’t on our itinerary when we were there, so thanks for the introduction!

  2. robincgc

    5 stars
    I love that you sourced a sustainable wine and your tasting note of this is really evokes the sense of this wine. I closed my eyes and felt like I could smell it from your description.
    Your pairing sounds fabulous. I’ll put that recipe on the list for ones to try this winter!

    1. Lynn Post author

      These days I try to only drink sustainable wines and smaller producers are preferred. Happy the tasting note transported you Robin! The dish?!? Great if you want massive flavor and super easy!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Glad to hear Nicole. Super easy to make. Next time I’ll marinate the oxtails in herby wine. The wine is worth the search!


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