Barbera is one of Piedmont’s great go-to wines. Steaming plate of pasta? Barbera. Hearty lasagna? Barbera. A good, ripe Barbera can hit it with a burger and fries as well. It’s about the juice. Barbera can be fussy to grow. The acids can be too high and, when the vintage isn’t cooperative, you can get the lifeless examples of 2013 and 2014. The thing is, most top Piedmont estates grow some Barbera. It’s what’s for dinner. But so often it is an afterthought to the more famous Nebbiolo grown higher on the hill. But there are a few guys that do take their little wines as seriously as their flagships and one of them we have been working with for a long time is Agostino Bosco.
Year in and year out Andrea Bosco seems to stuff more fruit into his Barbera than almost anyone we can think of. That riper, somewhat plump palate has an almost New World feel to it, yet the personality of the fruit itself is unmistakably Italian.
As we mentioned, we have sold many vintages of this, but the Bosco Agostino Barbera d’Alba Volupta 2015 might be the juiciest yet. Why don’t more people know about this producer? Well, first off, this isn’t some fancy Piedmont estate trying to pass itself off as a ‘small family farm’. This actually is a small family farm with good holdings and a good dose of passion.
Second, they are not with one of those large international import companies that make sure they have all of their wines in front of critics. This hands-on operation doesn’t have the staff to do that. So you see little in the way of press, though this did get a 91 from James Suckling and comments, “Plenty of blue fruit, slate and violets to this Barbera on the nose as well as hints of resin. Full body, fine acidity and a fruity finish. Drink now.” But this wine delivers in the glass as a compelling, easy going, authentic mouth full, especially this year.
The estate itself consists of four hectares in the La Morra area divided among Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. The family existed as growers for decades until they decided to make their own wines in 1979. This Barbera is a blend of two different vineyards, one with 20-year-old vines in clay and limestone and a southwest exposition, the other 30-year-old vines in tufa and limestone with a southeast exposition. The blend yields a wine with ripe dark red and black fruit, sufficient but never intrusive acidity, not a lot of evident tannin, and a minerality that adds an interesting textural underpinning. In other words, perfectly tasty yet deceptively serious Barbera.