April 2015 Selection

Barbera and company

April 2015 Selection

Cascina degli Ulivi Mounbè 2006 (2 bottles)
La Barbatella Ruanera 2012 (2 bottles)
Forteto della Luja Le Grive 2013 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £79.65
Club Discount Price: £71.16
You save: £8.49 (10.66%)

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About this selection...

The Barbera grape has been linked to the Piemonte region from time immemorial, and more specifically to the Monferrato hills, where this variety is believed to have had its beginnings.

Barbera wine had always been very popular due to its bright colour, fruity character, dryness and freshness, but its reputation suffered a severe setback in the eighties when certain wineries were accused of adding methanol to their wines. From then onwards, doubts were cast on the wine's prestige and for several years it even came to be widely considered as a wine of poor quality.

Fortunately for lovers of good wine, producers with a more enlightened vision of Piemonte's future set to work to re-establish the good names of both this grape and this region. Thus, over the years, its wines have reverted to showing their quality and in certain cases their excellence too.

Today, we come across wines made exclusively from the Barbera grape which enable us to get to know it in all its purity, but also in a coupage with other varieties grown in the Piemonte region, which is the case with our wine selection for this month. Authentic wines that offer the best of the Barbera together with other grapes that may or may not be indigenous. The first one is Mounbè, a Monferrato red made from Barbera, Dolcetto and Ancellotta, and produced by Stefano Bellotti at his Cascina degli Ulivi, where he is a tireless supporter of his environment's biodiversity, with the production of strictly natural wines. The second is Ruanera, a coupage of Barbera with Cabernet Sauvignon produced by La Barbatella, a winery once directed by one of the great names in Italian wine, Angelo Sonvico, now by the Perego family along with an enthusiastic young team which we think are well worth keeping an eye on. Finally, Le Grive, from Forteto della Luja, a red in which the rusticity of this indigenous grape combines with the nobility and elegance of the Pinot Noir.

Three very different wines but all made by small wineries backed by a fine history which deserves to be told, and speaks for itself in every single drop.

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Cascina degli Ulivi Mounbè 2006 (2 bottles)

Red. Cascina degli Ulivi Piemonte, Italy Barbera, Dolcetto, Ancellotta

Bottle: £15.49 club members / £17.01 non-members


In one of the scenes from Natural Resistance, the Jonathan Nossiter documentary which tells of the difficulties Italian winemakers encounter, cultivating their lands with all due respect for nature, Steffano Bellotti appears, proudly holding a handful of the healthy earth from his parcels. That land is precisely where the Cascina degli Ulivi vineyards are embedded and cultivated bio-dynamically. The winery's philosophy, which is well summarised on the back labels of its wines, talks of how nature produces one of its finest fruits, first on the land and then in the winery. Without any intervention in the vineyards, with no added yeasts, no filtration, no correcting nor clarifying. Simply the must from grapes which ferment naturally.

Mounbè is a wine made using a coupage of Barbera, Dolcetto and Ancellotta, with the latter being a little known variety which provides colour and good sugar content. It's a wine which may have some sediment and needs time if it's to be enjoyed to the full; we advise decanting it before serving.

In the glass it appears a ruby-red colour, with garnet hues which indicate the start of evolution, as well as a clarity and brightness which prove its perfect condition. On the nose, the typical character of the Barbera grape is predominant: warm, mature and showing excellent acidity. Aromas of cherries, rhubarb, tobacco, liquorice, iron, plus balsamic and oregano notes. The first taste confirms our suspicions: a powerful freshness that will last in the bottle for years. A sprightly, flavoursome wine with fine tannins. Its alcohol content shouldn't be underestimated, but has absolutely no influence at all on the pleasure each sip provides.

A wine that doesn't deserve to be rushed. Uncork it and allow some time before enjoying it, perhaps with a tasty meat risotto... As we all know, there are some pleasures that are well worth a quiet wait.

  • Alcohol content: 15,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Cascina degli Ulivi Mounbè 2006
Front and back

La Barbatella Ruanera 2012 (2 bottles)

Red. Cascina La Barbatella Monferrato, Italy Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera

Bottle: £7.55 club members / £8.59 non-members


Cascina La Barbatella, a winery which enjoyed great prestige in the eighties and beyond under the direction of Angelo Sonvico, is now run by the Perego family assisted by an enthusiastic young team. They, along with the inestimable help of two oenologists who have been there from the start, Giuliano Noè and Beppe Rattazzo, are all continuing to write the history of one of the most important wineries in the production of Monferrato wine.

Without a doubt, the star variety in the La Barbatella vineyards is the Barbera, a grape which the winery vinifies in all its purity, although they also grow one of the most esteemed international varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon. No matter which grape is used, they make wines renowned for their excellence.

Their Ruanera is an excellent red in which the fruitiness, dryness and freshness of the Barbera is complemented by the body, elegance and herbaceous notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are harvested when they have reached full ripeness and are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks. Blending starts in the spring, with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Barbera, and this gives rise to a meaty, pleasant wine with great balance.

An elegant red with an intense ruby colour. On the nose, its fruit-forward aromas stand out (blackberry, redcurrant and plum), but also its gentle hints of tomato leaves, pink pepper and tobacco, in a clean bouquet which tones in the fruit with the spicy notes. On the palate, it gives pure satisfaction: rich, with plenty of body and a vibrant freshness, fruity, persistent. Although the blend is original, it results in classic elegance and confirms this Monferrato red as a superb choice year after year. At a great price too!

Lamb

  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

La Barbatella Ruanera 2012
Front and back

Forteto della Luja Le Grive 2013 (2 bottles)

Red. Forteto della Luja Monferrato, Italy Barbera, Pinot Noir

Bottle: £12.52 club members / £14.23 non-members


Forteto della Luja is a unique and special place. The winery is located in Loazzolo, a town which boasts Italy's smallest DOC, besides being a spectacular spot, a protected area since 2007, known as a WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Oasis. Respect for the environment is of prime importance to the Scaglione family, which has been generating and preserving nature in this locality for six generations. The winery is powered solely by solar energy, vine cultivation is by ecological methods, and all work in the vineyards is carried out manually and without using any form of chemical products. Any pests that may appear are controlled through the setting up of fabricated nests which encourage the presence of birds. The wine’s name, le Grive, actually comes from a type of bird which feeds on juniper berries, a bush commonly found growing in the very hills where the vineyards lie.

Le Grive is made from Barbera and Pinot Noir, with the latter bringing its elegant perfume and silky texture to the blend. The wine is made from a selection of perfectly ripe and healthy grapes, and is aged for a year in oak barrels which add some mild spicy notes to its bouquet. It is complex on the nose, with fruit aromas to the fore (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries), nutmeg, cocoa and vanilla, on a background of balsamic and animal hints. With an intense and satisfying taste, le Grive exhibits a lovely texture and other characteristics that are due to the Barbera: smoothness and well-modulated tannins which lead to a pleasantly almondy finish.

Lamb

  • Alcohol content: 14,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Forteto della Luja Le Grive 2013
Front and back

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