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Crocera Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2016 Piemonte, ITALY

The wine...

The grapes for Crocera Barbera d'Asti Superiore are hand-harvested at full ripeness, then crushed and fermented. After 10-12 days of maceration and naturally-occurring malolactic fermentation, the wine is racked twice before going into oak.

Maturation is for 12 months in French oak barriques (10-15% new) with a portion in tini (traditional large vertical barrels).

Barbera d'Asti Superiore must be at least 12.5% ABV, plus be aged for a minimum of 14 months (including at least 6 months in barrel).

The estate - Tenuta Il Cascinone

The Barbera grapes are sourced from a single vineyard, 5 hectare plot, on the Tenuta Il Cascinone estate in Piemonte - directly in front of the winery. The soil is shallow on this steep slope, so the vines strive to obtain nutrients and water. As a result they produce berries with concentrated flavours.

Tenute Il Cascinone estate map showing the Crocera plot (3)

This 102 hectare estate sits amongst the Monferrato hills. It was purchased by Araldica in 1999, and underwent major restoration. The steep vineyards are up to 450m altitude, and include old vines planted in prime sites. The terrain means that hand-harvesting is essential here. Now approximately 70ha of vines are fully in production.

A variety of vines are grown at the estate, including international varieties Riesling and Merlot and local varieties Brachetto and Moscato. However the warmer southwest-facing slopes are planted with Barbera - giving perfect ripening conditions for the grape.

Images of the Tenuta Il Cascinone estate and winery

Foot of the mountain...

The Tenuta Il Cascinone estate is in Piemonte - Italy’s most westerly region, bordering both Switzerland and France. ‘Piemonte’ means ‘foot of the mountain’ as the Alps and Apennines stretch into the region. Alba in the Langhe, and Asti in Monferrato are significant areas of wine production.

Map showing some of the key wine-making areas of Piemonte

Piemonte has long been regarded as a source of quality wines and Barbera is the most widely planted variety in the region. This grape is found throughout Italy, but is most prevalent in the north (Piemonte, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna). The very best examples are from Piemonte - near Alba, Asti and in the Monferrato hills - where the Tenuta Il Cascinone estate is situated.

View of the Monferrato hills from the top of the Crocera vineyard

In Asti Barbera is planted in the best sites where it can ripen fully, producing rich and approachable wines.

...Barbera d’Asti is generally bright and supple, while Superiore, primarily made from the best, and often oldest, grapes, is more concentrated and ageworthy. (Wine Enthusiast magazine)

This is not typically the case in Alba, however, where the Nebbiolo grape is given priority - and the premium vineyard locations. As a result Barbera d'Alba is often planted in cooler spots, leading to more restrained wines.

The Barbera grape

The Barbera grape is a versatile one. It is capable of large yields, and has a deeper colour than the other red grapes in the region.

"Sooty black bullets"

It has relatively high acidity and low tannins, so can produce bright and juicy unoaked styles with a distinctive vivid purple hue. Alternatively it responds well to oak and can produce more rich and complex reds - such as the Crocera Barbera d'Asti Superiore.

Over the last couple of decades forward-thinking winemakers have focused on producing the finest 100% Barbera wines, with grapes sourced from the best sites.

Carlo Manera - winemaker

3rd generation winemaker, Carlo Manera, is one of these winemakers - his family have been strong advocates of Barbera in the region, and have over 60 years experience working with the grape.

He studied at the School of Oenology in Alba (as did his parents before him) graduating in 2011. He makes all of the wines as Il Cascinone. His parents Claudio Manera and Lella Burdese, and grandfather Livio, are all winemakers.

Carlo Manera with his parents Claudio and Lella, at the university where they studied.

Carlo needs to find the perfect balance between colour and tannin: allowing the grapes to macerate on the skins for 10-12 days, but avoiding a long fermentation - as the Barbera grapes are rich in colour (but not tannin) and colour is the first component to be extracted from the skins.

Malolactic fermentation begins naturally, but due to the high acidity of the grapes, it can take a long time - until March/April following the harvest. Carlo was looking for slightly less oak influence for the 2016 vintage - but with a beautiful balance between the French oak barriques and the lightly spicy portion that was aged in tini.

Crocera Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2016...

... is the result of great quality grapes, a prime site in the renowned Asti region, and Carlo's winemaking expertise - handed down through generations. Harnessing the rich black fruit character and juicy acidity of the Barbera grape, and deftly treated with oak:

Crocera is a perfect fresh juicy red but also over-delivers on everything else from seductive spicy notes to charming chocolate, bramble and cherry fruit. Ripe and generous and full-flavoured, balanced by tangy, juicy acidity.

Let Katie, one of Boutinot's product managers for Italy, tell you why she loves this wine...

Food matches:

This full and fruity grape makes great food-friendly wines. The juicy acidity means that it can partner fatty foods such as roasted meats and charcuterie, or rich tomato-based dishes . Here are some suggestions from Nigel Wilkinson MS:

Alternatively, why not try these recipes using Crocera Barbera d'Asti Superiore...

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