“Base” Barbera? No, classic Barbera - Coppo

Barbera base? Often we turn to the superior or reserve denominations. We think that “base” wines are the result of simpler processing and therefore have lesser quality. But we are wrong.

Base, superior, or reserve wines are simply different interpretations of a grape variety. Of course, if we seek complexity and evolution in a bottle, we need a wine subjected to special attention, different maturations, care, and wood aging. But if we are wine enthusiasts, we also like to recognize the most sincere expression of a grape variety with its most immediate interpretations, often with excellent value for money.

With Barbera, this is particularly true. When we encounter a Barbera produced in a more elementary way, in steel tanks, we have not only a wine for immediate drinking, a “vintage” Barbera, but above all, a wine that bears the truest and most distinctive traits of cultivation and its territory. With this idea in mind, Coppo has been planning and producing L’Avvocata since the 1990s.

The essentials of a classic Barbera

For what we have just said – and for the diminishing connotation that the expression carries with it – we do not like to speak of a “base Barbera.” We prefer “classic Barbera.” That produced in steel is the predominant part of Barbera production in our territory. It is a wine that is already drinkable in the year following the harvest, in which we recognize the musts of Barbera: the intense ruby red color in the glass, the ripe fruit on the nose and in the mouth, and the freshness, or as a sommelier would more properly say, the acidity. In the case of L’Avvocata in particular, Wine Spectator wrote: “A succulent red wine, with hints of blackberries and flashes of violet, blueberry, and spices. Complex, well-balanced, and long.”

The acidity of Barbera

We always perceive it. The acidity that we appreciate in the mouth on the sides of the tongue is written in the DNA of Barbera. And if every producer has their own idea of Barbera, more or less acidic, we can say that this natural component should not be too accentuated. For this reason, every “classic Barbera” seeks its own balance.

Barbera is a generous grape variety, producing grapes in any place and condition. For quality purposes, it is important that the vineyard can enjoy adequate conditions of sun and warmth. The goal is optimal ripening and a proper ratio between sugar content and acidity, not at the expense of the former. The vigorous vineyard must also be treated with non-excessive fertilization, green work, thinning, and pruning.

When to drink a classic Barbera?

It is often referred to as a “gastronomic wine”: the secret is acidity. It has also been a “daily wine,” a wine omnipresent on the tables of the hills of Piedmont and Monferrato, every day and with every meal. Now, consumption habits have changed, but when it comes to pairings, an old saying still holds true: “you never go wrong with a Barbera on the table.” Appetizers, pasta, cold cuts, baby octopus in stew, meatballs with peas, boiled meats. Thanks to its acidity, an Avvocata can also accompany more challenging dishes, stews, and sauces. Of course, in these cases, a Pomorosso might be more suitable.

New trends: cooler and Asian

There is a trend to consume Barbera at a lower temperature than the recommended 16-18 degrees, which favors even summer consumption. And then there is the pairing with oriental cuisines. With good structure and few tannins, Barbera enjoys an acidic but not cloying hardness: surprising in combination with certain vegetables and spices of Asian cuisines. Take, for example, certain dishes of Korean cuisine that pair fish and fruit, octopus and pear, lean fish and rich soups always with a touch of spices. The 2017 Avvocata seems like a wine designed to accompany those dishes.

Classic, superior, or reserve?

We’ve said it. We don’t make rankings a priori. We love and know the quality Barbera of Piedmont and the Southern Astigiano in its various types. Productive simplicity does not necessarily mean lesser quality in a wine. For Coppo, we have lovers of different Barberas: L’Avvocata, Camp du Rouss, Pomorosso, and Riserva della Famiglia. Each has its own choice.