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Barbaresco is a high quality red wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. Many Barbarescos are full bodied red wines and tend to age very well, if a little slowly. (Wine/Appellations)
Barbaresco has long been in the shadow of its famous neighbor, Barolo. Like Barolo, it is a dry, complex, and aromatic red capable of long-term aging. In general terms, however, Barbaresco tends to be somewhat softer and earlier maturing. Like Barolo, it is made from the Nebbiolo grape and in Piedmont’s marginal climate there may be only three truly great vintages of Barbaresco in any given decade.

Piedmont is one of the world’s great viticultural districts and the region around the lovely city of Alba, the Langhe, or Barolo and Barbaresco zones, is where Piemontese wines reach their apex. For those unfamiliar with the region it is easiest to draw parallels with Burgundy.

Like Burgundy’s Pinot Noir, Barolo and Barbaresco is the product of a single, fickle, difficult grape—Nebbiolo. The climate is generally just as difficult, with only two or three truly great vintages a decade being typical (Piedmont’s current run of luck is unheard of). Though not as rigidly defined as Burgundy’s system of village and vineyard classification, Barolo and Barbaresco also have a system—being further refined—that seeks to identify outstanding vineyards and define regional typicity within sub-zones.

The region’s fantastic wealth of favorable hillsides (in this, the Langhe is certainly more blessed than Burgundy) provides a wide range of micro-climates that support a number of different varietals. Because of this, in the middle of the Barolo zone, a producer may have a single vineyard with Nebbiolo planted at the top of a south-facing hill, Barbera at the bottom, and earlier-ripening Dolcetto on the east or west flanks.

Like Burgundy, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of growers that cultivate small plots. Coveted vineyards such as Cannubi or Brunate may be divided between several producers, and growers may further sell grapes from these vineyards to still more producers. This makes it possible to have many different bottlings from the same vineyard—an exercise, just as in Burgundy, that quickly shows the variability of winemaking skill in the Langhe.

Piedmont is most famous in the world of gastronomy for two things—great Nebbiolo and the legendary tartuffi bianco. Truffle season in Piedmont runs from October to December and the best truffles grow in wet, rainy, moist conditions—right around the time that Nebbiolo is being harvested for Barolo and Barbaresco. (Wine/Appellations)