Good Wine for $20 or Less: Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba 2012 ($20)
You may know the Pio Cesare winery because it makes some really great Barolos. And while Barolo has been called “king of the wines, wine of the kings,” barbera d'Alba is known as the “wine of the people.” And we, the people, love it.
Nebbiolo grapes are grown in Italy's Piedmont region, where they yield both Barolo and Barbaresco. But those wines have a ton of tannins and take time to age. And you know the Italians — they need something to drink with dinner tonight. Enter barbera, one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy. It creates wines with structure, often with ripe fruit (like blackberries), with some spice in the nose — and while they can age well, they’re great for right now.
Barbera is grown mostly in northwestern Italy, but these days you can find it almost everywhere — from Australia to Argentina and even to Santa Barbara. In the case of barbera d'Alba, the grapes come from Piedmont's Alba area. The wine must be at least 85 percent barbera grapes (up to 15 percent can be nebbiolo).
The Pio Cesare barbera d'Alba is a dark cherry color, is super-balanced and has a ton of acidity, and has a nice long finish. It will work great with a bowl of pasta, a slice of pizza, or even a cup of chili. I had it with a plate of pecorino and a big fat ball of fresh mozzarella. Heavenly.
(Each week, I’ll present another wine. Please let me know what you think, and don’t hesitate to offer other recommendations — your price cap is $20, though.)
Tracy Byrnes is a recovering Fox Business anchor and reporter who fell in love with the wine world and who writes that "I truly believe that the world would be a happier place if we all drank more wine." She covers wine regularly at http://www.wineonthestreet.com