Case of the Month – Ben, Will and myself were sipping on the 2014 Vallana Barbera after work recently and a really good question arose. How is this wine less than $15? We’re talking about one of the most historically significant names in the Alto Piemonte and a producer that Wine Spectator called one of the top 100 producers on the planet. And we’re also talking about a wine that is absurdly delicious, and one that we all agreed could easily sell for $20+ per bottle. We never found an answer to our original question, but we certainly found extreme enjoyment out of that bottle of wine. I promptly contacted Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports and secured enough Vallana Barbera to make it our next Case of the Month. You should buy some! Here’s the deal:
2014 Vallana Barbera – On sale through June 17th
Regular Price: $13.99/bottle
Sale Price: $10.99/bottle on your solid case — Over 20% off!
Vallana is the stuff of legends. The estate as we know it today was founded in 1937, but the Vallana family name first shows up in connection to high quality winemaking in Alto Piemonte in 1787. As Robert Parker says, these are “intense traditionally-made wines that ooze with character.” The family’s specialty is Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo (we’ve got that too), and these are the wines that deservedly gain all of the critical acclaim. But they also make a small amount of Barbera. It is not to be overlooked, and it is the least expensive way to “test drive” a Vallana wine. It also bears the stylistic framework that marks Vallana’s wines.
The vineyards of the Alto Piemonte, located north of the Langhe at the base of the Alps, are cooler and possess more acidic soils. These conditions give the Vallana wines their acidic backbone and the structure that allows them to age gracefully for years. The propensity to age and improve is one of the hallmark attributes of Vallana, and the tradition is carried on today by Giuseppina Vallana, together with her son Francis (a Ph.D. in Viticulture and Oenology), and her daughters Marina and Miriam.
Although their Barbera is perfect to drink young, it also has a track record for medium to long term aging. Yes, an $11 bottle of wine that you can age! As with all of their wines, including their more expensive offerings, all of the grapes for their Barbera are hand harvested from organically farmed vineyards. Fermentation and aging takes place in cement vats to preserve purity and character. And wow, does this wine have some character! Made in a traditional, old school Piemonte style, the wine is medium bodied and refreshing, offering up lovely notes of red berries and moderately complex notes of spices and earth. High in acidity but possessing soft tannin, this is enjoyable all year round as a stand-alone wine, but I really love the way it enhances the flavors of grilled meats, especially lamb.
What more is there to say? Seriously folks, this is the kind of wine that makes me do what I do with such vigorous passion. Legendary producer, clean farming and production techniques, delicious wine. Buy some! If you’re not sure, we invite you to stop by Saturday, May 20th (2-5pm) to give it a sniff and a sip. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to hold some for you as this one will run out. Cheers and happy drinking and eating in Asheville!