2003 Roberto Ferraris Barbera d'Asti Nobbio

Roberto Ferraris Barbera d'Asti Nobbio The Piedmont region in northwestern Italy is best known for its nebbiolo-based wines. Barolo and Barbaresco, in a sort of geographical bowl near the town of Alba, are world renown for their highly structured, ageworthy quality. Barbera is the second grape of Piedmont, typically yielding a darker colored, more acidic, intensely flavored wine. The first mention of the grape in Italian historical writings was at the turn of the 19th century when it was described as "An imposing wine that is always rather severe but richly and exquisitely perfumed and with a flavor that couples strength with finesse." In and around Alba, Barbera is frequently barrel-aged. These wines gain tannic structure from the wood, are ageworthy, but often lose the wonderful fruity exuberance of the Barbera grape.

An hour drive from Alba, one finds the second viticultural town of Piedmont, Asti. Unlike Alba, Barbera is the primary grape of Asti. Barbera D'Asti is rarely barrel-aged, offering wines that emphasize richness and concentration. But as these wines sell for roughly half the price of barrel-aged Barbera D'Alba, producers tend to be less rigorous than those of Alba, farming for higher yields, thereby robbing the Barbera of concentration.

Roberto Ferraris manages his family's 20-acre estate near Asti. All of the hillside vineyards are beautifully farmed and meticulously maintained, but the single vineyard Barbera from the Nobbio vineyard is the prize of the cellar, and one of the most remarkable wines of Asti. Entirely fermented in stainless steel so as to impede oxidation and magnify the explosive fruit quality of the 70-year old vineyard, Nobbio is terrifically concentrated, ripe and lush. Due to the great ripeness of the grapes, the wine shows none of the astringency that sometimes masks the fruitiness of Barbera.

Great with pizza, pasta, grilled chicken or meats. Drink now-2008.