Relatively speaking, Barbera is a newer grape in Washington state, often found near the cool growing climate of the Columbia Valley, in Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla.
Its native home is in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape arrived in California in the 19th century.
When crafted by experienced winemakers, Barbera somehow tastes both rich and light-bodied, with flavors of dark cherry, strawberries, plums, blackberries, vanilla and anise.
With low tannins, high acidity and juicy flavors, Barbera is a food-friendly palate-pleaser, particularly when paired with turkey, grilled chicken, pizza or spaghetti with meatballs. Or for something simple, try it with rich blue cheese or Reggiano Parmigiano. Delicious!
We have found a few excellent Barberas in Washington state:
A day of double-takes comprised what I like to call our experience of “Washington in Washington.”
Dave and I were in Washington, D.C. at the same time as this state’s Washington Wine Commission held a trade and media tasting there.
Ryan Pennington, the Commission’s social-media-savvy PR director, saw my Facebook update that we were headed to D.C., so he kindly invited us to stop by the tasting event at the Rooftop Terrace at The John F. Kennedy Center.
Of course we went! The tasting area was packed, and we listened with pride as many D.C.-area wine experts, restaurant owners, media and wine enthusiasts extolled the virtues of Washington state wine.
And we laughed at the looks on the faces of several winemakers and winery owners when they saw us, out of context, in “the other Washington!”
“We just happened to be in the neighborhood and heard some excellent Washington state wine was being poured here,” we replied.
We also had an opportunity to taste wine and talk to Daniel Wampfler of Dunham Cellars, Kristi and Lou Facelli of Facelli, Kim Bolander of L’Ecole 41, Debbie Hansen ofCougar Crest, and Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan.
These were the wines we tasted and recommend (in alphabetical order):