For the eleventh time, the Gambero Rosso wine guide awarded 3 Glasses to our Pomorosso, an avant-garde interpretation of an ancient and popular variety. In the mid-1980s, we began to believe in the potential of Barbera and started producing it with a new perspective. In doing so, we contributed a large part to the rebirth of this variety. If Pomorosso is, for us, the symbol of this wine revolution, then Barbera the grape is the icon of our hills, and has been since ancient times. But…how ancient, exactly? We began to dig through old family documents and letters in search of the roots of this incredible wine. Because we’re certain that our innovation rests on a long and knowledgeable tradition.
“In the county of Nizza de la Paglia, appointed officers [were invited] to taste the wines of these vineyards, and in particular the barbera wine, under the service of S.A. Serenissima, and to pay the correct price.”
(From a letter dated 1609 discovered in the town archives of Nizza Monferrato)
Barbera’s origins are ancient, but the first written documents that mention the variety date back to just several centuries ago. The first formal traces of it are found in a land registry of Chieri (province of Turin) in 1514. It’s assumed that the variety’s spread began much earlier, perhaps with different names that echo nearby cities or towns, which often happened in the past. For example, in the Codex Astensis, there is frequent mention of a grape called “de bonus vitibus berbexinis,” said to be very common in and around Canelli in the 12th century which is probably Barbera. Professor Dalmasso, one of the most important Italian enologists of the 1900s, said that Barbera from Asti was named in a letter dated 1609 suggesting it reached the ducal courts of Mantova, where aristocracy appreciated the best wines from all over Italy at their noble banquets (Viti e vini della provincial di Alessandria, Desana, 1976). In the letter was written, “In the county of Nizza de la Paglia, appointed officers [were invited] to taste the wines of these vineyards, and in particular the barbera wine, under the service of S.A. Serenissima, and to pay the correct price.”
At the end of the 1700s, the first ampelographic documentation of Piedmontese varieties defined Barbera as a “mighty wine, often quite austere, but rich with an exquisite aroma, and with a fine flavor that matches its strength” (Sulla coltivazione della viti, Nuvolone, 1798). At the end of the 1800s, Barbera was acclaimed as historically important for Piedmontese enology: “a very well-known variety and one of the principle wines from the Astigiano and lower Monferrato, where it is an indigenous grape that has been cultivated for a very long time…”(Ampelografia della provincia di Alessandria, Carlo Leardi and Pier Paolo Demaria, 1875).
A lot changed in the following centuries, not a little of which is due to labels such as our Pomorosso, which revolutionized the image of Barbera on the national and international markets. These markets have also changed quite a bit from what they once were…