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Bitter Barbera

barbera_vignamartina_pic.jpgI love barbera from Piemonte: racy and bitter with a biting acidity that just sings with food. Therefore it was with great anticipation that I opened a bottle of 2004 Elio Grasso Barbera d’Alba Vigna Martina. On the stove was a pot of boiling water waiting for the fresh spaghetti I just picked up at Pastaworks and a simmering pot of a simple tomato sauce, while on the table awaited some aged Parmigiano Reggiano and a chunk of fresh bread from the excellent Red Fox Bakery. Needless to say I was salivating as I pulled the cork on the barbera. The first sip confused me; where was that barbera bite. I tasted again assuming that I had just missed it, but there was nothing there. This dark ruby wine was full of sweet soft fruit layered with warm vanilla - in other words it was a lot like a merlot. If you insist on all the wines you drink, no matter the variety, taste like merlot - this is the barbera for you. However, if you want a barbera you better look elsewhere. Soft is not what barbera is about.