Great Wines Under $30–La Spinetta Barbera d’Asti

La Spinetta Barbera d'Asti 2009

La Spinetta “Ca Di Pian” Barbera d’Asti 2009


[kwof, kwaf, kwawf]

verb (used without object)


to drink a beverage, especially an intoxicating one, copiously and with hearty enjoyment.
Barbera grapes

Barbera grapes

Barbera is quickly becoming one of my favorite grapes, because it’s so utterly quaffable. There are different expressions of the grape. It can be young and fresh, full of bright cherry flavor (like the Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti I wrote about last month). It can also be a bit more serious, round with blackcurrant and plum notes, especially if it has been aged in oak barriques.

La Spinetta’s Cà di Pian Barbera d’Asti 2009 falls toward this latter style. It’s aged in new and used French oak for 12 months and has a darker fruit profile full of dried plum and black cherries. It’s still soft and round, though, and extraordinarily easy to drink. At $23.99, it’s a great value.

Drawing and woodcut by Albrecht Duer.

Drawing and woodcut by Albrecht Duer. La Spinetta, “Making wines with passion.”

La Spinetta (which means “top of the hill”) is one of my favorite producers. It’s family-owned with a focus on low yields and indigenous grapes, with about 75% of the vineyards farmed Biodynamically. I’ve always enjoyed their rosé, Il Rosé di Casanova, from Tuscany. They’ve also got one of the best logos, a drawing and woodcut by the German artist Albrecht Düer. The Indian rhinoceros was the first of its kind to arrive in Europe, in 1515, a gift by the governor of Portuguese India to the King of Portugal. According to the story, the rhino was arranged to fight an elephant, but the elephant fled. A description and drawings of the rhino reached Germany, and although he never saw the real animal, Düer created his iconic woodcut, which has been widely borrowed by other artists ever since.

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