I’m sure My Readers understand that this trip by seven bloggers to “Barbera Meeting 2010” is a press excursion paid for by the event’s myriad sponsors. Our airplane flights and hotel accommodations were paid for, and we are provided with a number of lunches and dinners that are also attended by members of the trade and the Barbera d’Asti producers and winemakers. We gain experience and perspective; the organization’s entities and the wine producers receive our ideas and opinions and (potentially) valuable exposure. Have tasted about 220 wines in two days, I’ll say that I have gained considerable experience and perspective on a wine region which I had never visited.

Don’t worry that we can’t be objective. If you check the official blog — Barbera2010.com — you’ll see that we bloggers have been critical about the punishing and debilitating amount of oak and tannin in many of the wines, and that we have questioned the motivations and the techniques of the winemakers who overload their wines on the front end and diminish the pleasure of their wine’s fruit and vibrant acidity, an essential feature of the barbera grape.

In fact, yesterday morning the local newspaper in Asti carried a story the gist of which was that the bloggers were being critical of the wines tasted the first day (Monday) and that the principal criticism is the issue of wood. Yours truly is the first person, or first blog, quoted in the story. And we heard this evening that today (I’m writing this at 12:44 a.m.) there will be a similar piece in a national paper. We’re called “Barbera Boys,” a bit of nomenclature that does not sit well with Whitney, the lone woman of our group. (I would not dream of suggesting a correction to “Barbera Boys and Their Mascot Whitney.”)

Anyway, we encountered more wood and more tannin and a surprising amount of controversy yesterday afternoon and evening in Nizza, a town that’s the center of a Barbera d’Asti sub-region, with cheeky journalists and offended producers both expressing passionate beliefs in the wrongness or rightness of their winemaking techniques. I think that all of us bloggers will be posting about this strenuous and very important debate, since it has to do, ultimately, with the survival of Barbera d’Asti as a viable representative of a grape and region.

Obviously, there’s more to come.