Hi there, this is Alex, son of Broke Estate owners Bernadette and Max Tolson. At Broke Estate I help out on the farm whenever I can (I am based in Adelaide, so don’t get back as often as I would like). I have also helped set up this website, which is our main form of interaction with our customers as we do not have a physical cellar door (yet). This is the first blog post of how many is not known, but we will see how we go.
I am red wine drinker, and living in Adelaide live within a short distance from some of the most iconic red wine growing regions, producing big and bold reds – I love this style of wine and is my go-to wine of choice. After my parents purchased Broke Estate in 2012 and watching dad resurrecting the Barbera back to production, I have become fond of this easy-drinking, lighter style and low tannin red. So I have decided to share in this, the first blog post, an overview of Barbera. Hopefully, no matter if you are knowledgeable about wine, like to try new wines or are unsure about which wines to drink, you will find this a helpful overview of one of my favourite varieties of wine.
Barbera (bah-BEH-rah) is the third most widely grown variety in Italy and it is almost a thousand years older than Cabernet Sauvignon, yet it is not very common here in Australia. I have introduced a few friends to Barbera, and everyone really enjoys this easy to drink varietal. Looking at Barbera in a glass you would think it is a rich and bold wine due to its dark colour, however, it is actually low in tannins and light-bodied with notes of cherry, plum, spice and liquorice. I think it is best described as being an easy-drinking lighter-styled red that pairs well with most types of food and something all your friends would enjoy.
Recently I have been cutting back on the amount of beer I drink to help keep the weight off, substituting beer for wine during the winter months is easy, though nothing beats cold beer during the warmer months. This is one of my favourite things about Barbera, chill it to around 13 degrees and you have a great drink for those warmers days (and nights) that is well suited to this wine’s aromas and acidity (compared to say a Shiraz that is best served at around 18 degrees). One thing that I have come across while researching for this blog post is a Cocktail Barbera Tonic (see picture and link below). Described as being a refreshing, dark red cocktail in the style of an Aperol Spritz, this cocktail originates from the same region in Italy where Barbera is from. I am keen to check this out over the summer months – it could be a refreshing low-alcohol alternative to a G&T.
Barbera is well suited to be enjoyed with pizza, grilled meat, pasta, tomato-based dishes, antipasto, cheese, dips and fresh bread. Though with its low acidity, it will pair well just about any type of food. Given its Mediterranean roots, it is no doubt that it is perfectly matched with Mediterannean-styled foods that are rich or high in fat. One of the interesting things I have discovered is drinking Barbera while eating ice-cream (Connoisseur Classic Vanilla is a favourite), it isn’t something I do often, though it brings out different flavours when the sugars, cream, acid and tannins meet.
It is thought that Barbera originated in central Piedmont in the hills of Monferrato, Italy. From here it spread to California and Argentina. I have fallen in love with the vistas of Monferrato with the rollings hills, ancient castles and medieval villages – it is is high on my list of places I want to visit! In 1985 Barbera saw a decline in popularity in Italy after some producers were illegally adding methanol to their wines, killing around 23 people and causing many to lose their sight.
In Australia, you can find Barbera being grown in over 40 different wine regions, though it is most popular in the Riverina, Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale, Mudgee and King Valley areas. Barbera was first introduced to Australia in the 1960s and to the Hunter Valley in 1988 by Andrew Margan of Margan Wines. The Broke Estate Barbera was planted in 1996, and after many years of neglect, we have resurrected the vineyard and produced our first vintage in 2016.
Due to Barbera having low levels of tannins it is best consumed within three to six years of vintage – putting it into the “drink now” category.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and you now know a little bit more about this increasingly popular red variety. If you haven’t tried Barbera before, I highly recommend you give it a try. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message below. Cheers, Alex.