Barbera Bargains

Wines produced from Northern Italy's barbera grape are well made and surprisingly well priced

These contributions come from my colleague Antonio Galloni, who has selected some super bargains from the barbera grape, a well-known varietal producing crisp, fruity, dark wines with zesty acidity, not a lot of tannin, but terrific flexibility with an assortment of cuisines. The vintage of choice is 2006, a year so consistent it is virtually impossible to go wrong.

87 points

2007 Prunotto Barbera d'Asti Fiulot

Prunotto is one of Piedmont's historic properties and is owned by the Antinori family. The estate makes a wide range of wines at all price points. An entry-level bottling made from purchased fruit, Prunotto's 2007 Barbera d'Asti Fiulot is a pretty, engaging wine. It offers up ripe red fruits, with excellent length and the bright acidity that is the hallmark of the wines of Asti. Anticipated maturity: now to 2011. $17

88 points

2006 F.lli Revello Barbera d'Alba

Brothers Enzo and Carlo Revello are among the small, artisan producers of La Morra that continue to craft better and better wines with each passing vintage. The 2006 F.lli Revello Barbera d'Alba is a joyous, mouth-filling red. It offers tons of purity and harmony in its juicy, red fruit, with excellent length and plenty of style. This is the regular bottling, not the top of the line Ciabot du Re, which often shows a lot of new oak. Anticipated maturity: now to 2010. $23

88 points

2006 Mauro Molino Barbera d'Alba

Mauro Molino is another of the La Morra growers who produce accessible wines that also happen to be well priced. The 2006 Barbera d'Alba reveals a soft-textured expression of dark red fruit in a fresh, accessible style. Molino ages his arbera for roughly six months in steel. Anticipated maturity: now to 2010. $20

88 points

2006 Moccagatta Barbera d'Alba

Moccagatta is one of the proponents of a contemporary style of winemaking in Barbaresco. In recent years their wines have acquired more elegance and finesse than in the past. The 2006 Moccagatta Barbera d'Alba is an accessible, fruit-driven wine made in a somewhat restrained, feminine style. Perfumed aromatics are laced throughout, adding further complexity. The estate gives its barbera six months in used French oak barrels, which adds an additional dimension of richness without covering the essential qualities of the fruit. Anticipated maturity: now to 2010. $26

88 points

2006 Seghesio Barbera d'Alba

Seghesio, based in Monforte, makes excellent wines that capture the best of the soft textural elements that are the hallmark of the modern school in Piedmont. Seghesio's 2006 Barbera d'Alba needs some time in the glass for the aromatics to clean up and come into focus. This richly textured wine is made in the fruit-driven style that is the estate's calling card. It is a tasty red to enjoy over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: now to 2010. $23

89 points

2006 Abbona Barbera d'Alba Rinaldi

The 2006 Barbera d'Alba Rinaldi is a highly pleasing wine. This barbera is aged first in French oak and then in larger Slavonian oak casks. The wine reveals considerable weight and richness in its layers of dark red fruit, toasted oak and spices. It should drink beautifully over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: now to 2011. $23

89 points

2006 Braida Barbera d'Asti Montebruna

Braida is based in Rocchetta Tanaro, in the province of Asti. Although the property is best known for its large-scaled, superripe barberas, the simpler wines in the range merit close attention as well. The 2006 Barbera d'Asti Montebruna is the estate's entry-level Barbera and also the most classic of this property's wines as it is aged in cask. This fresh, vibrant barbera is loaded with gorgeous black cherries, menthol, and minerals followed by balsamic notes that develop in the glass. It offers a lovely balance in the way it marries notable concentration with a firm, classic sense of structure. Anticipated maturity: now to 2011. $22

90 points

2005 Albino Rocca Barbera d'Alba Gepin

Clean, perfumed aromatics meld seamlessly into a core of ripe dark fruit as Rocca's 2005 Barbera d'Alba Gepin opens in the glass. Silky textured tannins frame the fruit beautifully from start to finish. The 2005 is not the most extroverted vintage of this wine, yet it offers terrific purity and class in an elegant style. Anticipated maturity: now to 2013. $23

90 points

2006 Vietti Barbera d'Alba Tre Vigne

Vietti is one of the most historic properties in Piedmont. The estate is best known for its top-flight Barolos, yet in recent years their entry-level wines have been equally impressive. These are among the finest wines being made anywhere in Italy. Vietti's 2006 Barbera d'Alba Tre Vigne is made in the soft, round style that is typical of the wines of Alba. The wine offers up layers of super-ripe dark fruit, leather spices, smoke, and earthiness with awesome textural depth and richness. This pure, generous barbera should continue to drink beautifully for several years. Anticipated maturity: now to 2012. $26