2016 Ottosoldi Barbera del Monferrato
Three generations ago the entire Ottosoldi estate was purchased for the grand sum of 8 pennies.
That sounds like a great bargain until you realize that it was all of Grandfather Marsiaj’s life savings – and I mean that quite literally. He immediately passed the vineyard onto his sons and passed away. It was, in that time, the sum of a life’s work.
But Grandfather Marsiaj (in this dialect of Piedmontese Italian, the “J”s become “I”s by the way) didn’t mean it that way. He wanted his past to be his sons’ future. All his life he had admired these vineyards in Monforrato, passing by them twice daily on his way to school, always noticing that their hillsides formed a perfect sundial, harnessing the immense power of Mother Nature, all in just 10 heavenly acres of land.
So it came to be that his children worked the land, creating two wines at this magical place—a Gavi, the native white grape of the area (more on that when the weather warms up)—and this, their Barbera, the delicious red grape of the region. Now his children’s children produce these wines, all from Grandfather’s inheritance.
This Barbera has it all. It’s not only a crowd-pleaser, it’s also a delightful reveler and while at the same time, serious stuff. How did this come to be? The vineyard land at Ottosoldi indeed produces powerful-drinking red wine. This wine’s bright raspberry fruit, violet, Bing cherry and blackberry notes are immediate and upfront. When you open this bottle, its ready to come out and play.
And of course there’s more. Barbera, planted in the best spots (which it usually isn’t these days because Nebbiolo is a higher cash crop) is complex in its taste, offering hints of anise, leather chaps, graphite, tart cherry pie and herbs. The midpalate is bold, and the finish is long and mineral, making this is a sure-fire bet for any occasion. Still sheltering in place? Pop this for a movie night with black pepper potato chips and mascarpone dip with black truffles. More serious? Porcini risotto with roasted sea scallops (yes, Barbera works with seafood). Crazy stand-out pairing? Order Indian and cry with some curry. And no fear, you’ve got time to try all of these dishes: This drinks perfectly now, but will go for another decade in your cellar.
No, this was never the cheapest of Barberas, nor should it be. What’s in the bottle completely justifies the price. And we got it at a heck of a deal. Maybe not “Ottosoldi” –8 pennies—but still, at a price you don’t wanna miss.
“Plenty of lively and intense fruit on the nose with blackberry and blueberry character. Hints of wet earth. Full-bodied, firm and juicy with beautiful fruit and a linear background that carries the wine through. Drink now.” – James Suckling