I discussed in previous posts the circumstances and conditions that prevailed at Barbera Week 2010 in Asti — I returned to the U.S. a month ago today! — so I won’t go back over those details now. The conference was, as I have implied, hectic and exhausting and yet (as I hope I have made clear) exhilarating and educational, and we ate mounds of great Piedmontese cuisine.

In the the first part of “Cutting to the Chase,” I listed the best and worst wines we tasted in the area of Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Asti Superiore. Now it’s the turn of Barbera d’Asti wines from the Nizza sub-region and for Barbera del Monferrato and Barbera d’Alba. The latter two have their own official DOC status (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) but Nizza does not, being attached to Barbera d’Asti. These wines were experienced at blind tasting on the mornings of March 9, 10 and 11, at the Palazzo Zoya, at afternoon visits to wineries, at walk-around tastings in the evening and at dinner. Going back through my notebook and the tasting sheets, I count 140 wines from Nizza, Monferrato and Alba, several of them tasted two or three times in different situations. Generally, the wines from Monferrato and Alba rate better than the wines of Nizza, though there were clearly superior wines — and inferior examples — from all three regions.

I checked my notes carefully — seeing who was naughty and who was nice — to choose the wines listed today, because some of them, in multiple tastings, produced different reactions, and I wanted to weigh those reactions judiciously. For example, the Cascina Garitina “Neuvsent” 2006, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza, that I tasted blind the morning of March 9 was, frankly, roiling with tannin but showed a lovely bouquet of smoke, minerals, dried spice and mint. That night, at another blind tasting of Nizza wines, all from 2006, the wine was “vegetal, off.” Which was the “real” Neuvsent?

On the other hand, I tasted the Villa Giada Bricco Dani, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza, from 2007, 2006 and 2005 on the same day and admired the wine for consistent shapeliness, purity and intensity on each occasion.

So, let’s cut to the chase here and list the Best Wines of Barbera d’Asti Nizza, Barbera del Monferrato and Barbera d’Alba; an asterisk indicates superior quality. Again, I make no distinction between “modern” versions of these wines, which aged in small
French barrels, and traditional wines that aged in stainless steel tanks and large old casks.

<1> Bersano 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<2> Bosco Agostino Azienda Agricole 2007, Barbera d’Alba*
<3> Bottazza Azienda Agricola “Rubia” 2008, Barbera del Monferrato
<4> Bric Cenciurio “Naunda” 2007, Barbera d’Alba*
<5> Bricco dei Guazzi 2007, Barbera del Monferrato
<6> Brovia Sori’ de Drago 2007, Barbera d’Alba* (I thought this was one of the best Barbera wines we tasted during Barbera 2010, and I devoted a separate post to it a few weeks ago)
<7> Cantina Iuli “Umberto” 2007, Babera del Monferrato (I didn’t care for this wine at the morning blind tasting but liked it very much at the evening event.)
<8> Cascina Chicco “Ganera Alta” 2008, Barbera d’Alba
<9> Casetta F.illi “Suri” 2007, Barbera d’Alba
<10> Cascina Lana 2007, Barbera d’Asti Nizza
<11> Castello di Uviglie “Pico Gonzaga” 2006, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore*
<12 Costa di Bussia Azienda Agricola “Campo del Gatto” 2008, Barbera d’Alba
<13> Elvio Cogno “Bricco dei Merli” 2007, Barbera d’Alba*
<14> La Casaccia “Bricco de Bosco” 2007, Barbera del Monferrato*
<15> La Scamuzza “Vigneto della Amoroso” 2008, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore (Also 2006)
<16> L’Armangia Azienda Argicola 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<17> Montalbera “La Briosa” 2008, Barbera del Monferrato
<18> Parusso Armando 2007, Barbera d’Alba Superiore
<19> Scarzello Giorgio Azienda Agricola 2007, Barbera d’Alba*
<20> Spinoglio Danilo 2008, Barbera del Monferrato
<21> Villa Giada “Bricco Dani” 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza*

“Worst” is a harsh word — perhaps we should say “wrong-headed” or “deeply insufficient” — but the following wines seemed completely unsuitable because of astringent levels of oak, tannin and acidity or for other flaws, mainly “off” and funky odors. No wine, certainly not red, should smell like “plastic flowers and Evening in Paris,” as one of my notes recorded.

<1> Bava Azienda Agricola “Pianoalto” 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<2> Cascina Guido Berta “Canto di Luna” 2006, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza (Tasted twice; much better was the Guido Berta 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore, not from Nizza)
<3> Cascina La Barbatella “La Vigna dell’Angelo” 2006 & 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza (Another case of liking a winery’s “regular” Barbera d’Asti more than the Nizza version)
<4> Dacapo SA “Vigna Dacapo” 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<5> Erede di Chiappone Armando Azienda Vitivinicola “Ru” 2006, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza (Yet again, this winery’s “Brentura” 2007, Barbera d’Asti, was superior to the Nizza bottling)
<6> Francone “I Patriarchi” 2007, Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2007
<7> Franco Mondo “Vigna delle Rose” 2006, Barber d’Asti Superiore Nizza (I did like Franco Mondo’s “Vigna del Salice” 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore)
<8> La Bruciata di Oscar Bosio 2007, Barbera d’Alba
<9> La Girona di Galandrino “Le Nicchie 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<10> Noceto Michelotti Azienda Agricola “Montecanta” 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<11> Poderi dei Bricchi Astigiani “Bricco Preje” 2006, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<12> Prunotto SRL “Costamiole” 2007, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza
<13> Rivetto “Zio Nando” 2007, Barbera d’Alba (I wrote about Rivetto’s Barolos in a previous post)
<14> Scrimaglio “Acse” 2006, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza (Once more, a case of finding a winery’s Barbera d’Asti wines more attractive than its Nizza wines)
<15> Tenuta La Tenaglia “1930 — Una Buona Annata” 2007, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore (I quite liked this property’s “Giorgio Tenaglia” 2007, Barbera d’Asti)
<16> Tenuta Olim Bauda 2006, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza

This post concludes my coverage of Barbera Week 2010. You may read my contributions and those of my “Barbera 7″ colleagues on the collective blog, Barbera2010.com. I have more to write about my sojourn in Piedmont — a visit to Gaja; the whites wines of Piedmont — but those do not come under the purview of Barbera Week 2010.