Sunday, April 1, 2012

Collina La Mora Barbera D'Asti (2009)

The story, as told by the label, goes like this: "[w]hen the work in the vineyard was beat out to the rhythm of oxen or horses, to which he confirmed, he chose the easily reached vineyards on gentle slopes close to the road."  The story continues, by explaining that the grandfather, Secondo Crivelli, bought "the more distant steeper vineyards which were harder to work.  But as the local winemakers have always said, 'a fa el vin bon'" or "it gives good wine."  The Collina la Mora Barbera d'Asti, which is produced by Crivelli, is produced from the grapes on those more distant, steeper vineyards."

Personally, I know little about the grapes and wines in northeastern Italy, especially the Piedmont region produces some very good wines, but, the most well-known wines, such as the Barolo and Barbaresco, are usually out of my price range.  (That is probably a truer statement with respect to Barolo than Barbaresco.)  However, when I recently made Pappardelle with Spicy Lamb Ragu, the suggested wine pairing was a Barbera wine, which is a more affordable Piedmontese wine.  The wine I chose is Crivelli's Collina La Mora.

Indeed, the saying was that the Barbera wines were "what you drank while waiting for the Barolo to be ready."  Barbera wines are produced using the grape varietal with the same name. There are three DOCs or DOCGs connected with Barbera wine: Barbera d'Asti, Barbera d'Alba and Barbera del Monferrato.  The Collina La Mora is a Barbera d'Asti, which falls within the DOCG for the wines produced and made from grapes cultivated around the Piedmontese town of Asti.  According to the rules of the DOCG, require at least 85% of the grapes to be Barbera grapes.  Winemakers can use Freisa, Grignolino or Dolcetto grapes for the remaining 15% percent.  The wine must also be made by March 1 following the harvest or vintage year and must have a minimum alcohol of 11.5%.

The Collina La Mora Barbera D'Asti carries the DOCG on its label, which means it complies with the rules.  The wine pours pours a ruby red color, with purplish hues depending upon the light. The aromatic elements of this wine include cherries, raspberries and some floral notes.  These same elements carried through to the taste.  Although a relatively young wine, it was not too acidic, rough or tannic.  Indeed, it was surprisingly drinkable given its age.

As I noted above, I purchased this wine to specifically pair it with the Pappardelle with Spicy Lamb Ragu.  The recommendation came from Josh Wesson, the founder of Best Cellars and the author of Wine & Food: A New Look at Flavor. Josh picked a Barbera wine, although he did not specify whether it should be a d'Alba, d'Asti or del Monferrato, suggesting any of them would do.  Josh believes that the Barbera has the natural acidity to match a rich food, such as ground lamb in the ragu sauce.  I said it once, and, I'll say it again, he is right.

The Collina La Mora Barbera d'Asti is available at wine and grocery stores.  If I recall correctly, it sells for about $19.99 a bottle.


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