Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera, 2005
This Barbera from Piedmont in Italy is a wine that shows the lighter side of Barbera. The color is ruby with a blackish hue. On the nose there is plum and spice. The taste was red and black fruits. This wine has high acidity and relatively low tannins. Barbera is known as the "King of Food" as it can compliment a wide variety of cusines. The hallmark acidity will pair well with dishes like pizza and tomato sause, yet will also take on the riches of a steak. It is available at Top Foods, in Bellevue, for about $11.
Here is an article from the Seattle PI newspaper about this wine.
Wine Pick Of The Week: 2005 Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera ($12)
No wine country appears to have more indigenous grape varieties than Italy. I'm not sure exactly how many grapes can call Italy home, but some estimates put the number at more than 2,000.
Fortunately, only a few dozen have made it into the mainstream. Each region (Italy has 20 regions) owes the distinctiveness of its local wines to its unique grape culture. In Tuscany, for example, sangiovese puts its mark on the famous Chianti wines as well as the highly regarded and very expensive Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello is a synonym for sangiovese). And in northwest Italy, in the region of Piedmont, where the last winter Olympics were held, the nebbiolo grape is responsible for Italy's most revered wines from the areas around the towns of Barolo and Barbaresco.
But there's another high quality grape grown here that has always lived in the shadow of its famous Piemontese paesano, and that is barbera.
Barbera has been used as a workhorse grape but, given the opportunity, it can achieve great heights. Alas, the best vineyard sites have always been reserved for nebbiolo, so great barbera continues to be rare. The good news is that barbera wines remain really good values and most of the best producers offer a version, including Fontanafredda.
The estate of Fontanafredda, which was founded as a hunting lodge in the late 19th century by King Victor Emmanuel II, has become not only one of the largest producers in the region but the standard bearer for most Piemontese wines. The 2005 barbera from Fontanafredda, which goes by the proprietary name Briccotondo, is fresh and approachable with plenty of red fruit flavors, which is fairly typical of these wines. But while other examples can sometimes be marked by shocking acidity, this one has a softness that gives it a distinctively plush texture on the palate. Try it with lighter meat dishes, pastas and even salmon.
To find the wine contact Unique Wine Co. at 425-255-8646.
-- Richard Kinssies