The Hills Of Barbaresco, The Garden Of The Langhe

THE HILLS OF BARBARESCO,
THE GARDEN OF THE LANGHE


Panorama of Barbaresco and its wonderful hills

The vineyards of Barbaresco are like well-tended gardens.

The rows stretch parallel to the slopes, following the winding shape of the steep and pointed hills, which sometimes plunge towards the Tanaro River, forming incredible cliffs. Every now and then, a white field path cuts this geometric perfection from top to bottom, drawing a magnificent natural checkerboard that leaves onlookers in awe.

THE DENOMINATION

The Barbaresco denomination extends over the hills in the north-eastern section of the Langhe, a few kilometers east of Alba, bordering with the first ridges of Monferrato, which are locally called «Langa Astigiana». This is a rather small denomination that includes only three municipalities – Neive, Treiso and the homonymous town of Barbaresco – as well as the small hamlet of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, which falls under the administration of Alba. This makes Barbaresco the only DOCG to be produced within the confines of the «City of Truffles».

Looking at the territory on a map, the denomination forms a «C» with its extremities slightly facing south. Starting from the bottom, we find San Rocco, Treiso, Barbaresco (in the center) and Neive.

A particularity of this area is its proximity to the Tanaro River. Along the western part of the area’s «back» runs the main watercourse of the Langhe and its valley is traced right next to the hills of Barbaresco. The Tanaro not only influences the microclimate – making it cool and humid in the summer and slightly more temperate in the winter – but it also creates a singular landscape. At times, the hills overlook the river, revealing stunning panoramas. Oftentimes, cliff-like formations appear near the river bed: these are the «Rocche», chasms that open up the surface of the earth.

VOCATION TO NEBBIOLO

The hills of Barbaresco are densely planted with vines, pushing the woods towards marginal areas: along the course of the Tanaro River and around the steep slopes of the Rocche. As well as South of Treiso, along the valley of the Tinella River, which draws the southern border of the denomination and leads to the hills of the Alta Langa, which are still covered with dense forests.

The undisputed prince of this area is definitely Nebbiolo: undoubtedly the most cultivated variety, it is vinified in purity (exclusively using Nebbiolo grapes) to make Barbaresco Docg. There are some Dolcetto and Moscato vineyards here and there, but the area they occupy is decreasing in size. Nebbiolo has perfectly adapted to the area’s soils, which present the typical geological formation of the Langhe: grayish calcareous marl with some clay and sand, very poor in organic matter, but rich in magnesium and calcium. But the “poor” lands are actually a blessing: the roots of Nebbiolo vines are urged to dig deep to reach the water and microelements they need, concentrating all sugar and aromas in the grapes. This constant “stress” firmly binds the plant to the soil and is an essential element that makes up the unique – and inimitable – character of Barbaresco.

BARBARESCO DOCG DUCHESSA LIA

Barbaresco is considered a deep and complex wine. And it really is. Barbaresco is often associated with Barolo when enumerating the most important and prestigious reds of the Langhe, those reserved for important occasions. This, too, is true. However, unlike Barolo, it has a more lively soul, a more “playful” personality. Probably, the proximity to the Tanaro River and the more sandy soils compared to western Langhe endow it with more pleasantness, which Barolo compensates with a certain austerity. Such elegant structure and aromas can be found in Barbaresco Docg Duchessa Lia, a multifaceted and enticing wine with its delicate vinous and spicy notes that recall fruit soaked in alcohol, raspberries and wild strawberries. Everything is wrapped by a soft and velvety tannin that pleasantly accompanies every sip, making this Barbaresco an excellent pair to roasts, steaks, braised and grilled meat, as well as medium and long-aged cheeses. Barbaresco Docg Duchessa Lia is also ideal with risotto and pasta with meat sauce. But you can also enjoy it with friends (to fully enhance its not excessively demanding character) together with Fassona meat tartare, insalata russa or a few slices of raw meat.

The Tanaro river laps the hills of Barbaresco which (as seen in the photo) are bordered by a coastal forest


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