Barbera from “Alba” …Big Difference

Barbera,, Not Hanna Barbera

Hanna Barbera

This is not to be confused with The Flintstones creators. Barbera is literally the most widely planted grape varietal in the Northwest Region of Piedmont in Italy. Most would think it is Nebbiolo for Barolo and Barbaresco. Nope it is Barbera. Most popular are the Barberas from the D.O.C.G area of Asti. Less popular are the Barbera D’Alba the D.O.C.  I like them both. There is however a huge stylistic expression of the grape variety even though the terroirs  are so close together.

Cascina Chicco

Enrico and Marco Faccenda, are 3rd gerneration owners of Cascina Chicco. Cascina translates to Farmhouse in English. Chicco (KEE-KO) translates into seeds or grapes or grains??. Just like when I was a kid in Brooklyn we all got tagged with nicknames and so did this family.

ChiccoPeople have always called them”Chicu,” without any apparent reason or particular etymology. Their great-grandfather’s family was the first to be called “the Chicus” in the friendly country way , they have of interchanging a place name with the last name of a person. Wherever their father and grandfather went, they were called “Chicu.” The current owner today is  called “Chicu,” as well. All his  children, as they grow up, are beginning to be known as the “sons of Chicu.”

Their father was like my father. “Don’t buy a Hat in A Shoe Store” mentality. Don’t ever try to be everything to everyone. Just be really good at One Thing! Their father, who owned a farm and a delicatessen, told them to dedicate themselves to one thing only. “Otherwise it’s too much work, even during the holidays,” he said. So they chose one thing, making wine. They work SEVEN days of the week, 365 days of the year in the vineyards and cellar. Barbera D’ Astis are always a little too fresh and too light but Barbera D Alba is in my opinion a bigger, bolder expression.

Review 2014 Cascina Chicco

Barbera D’Alba D.O.C.

Granera Alta

Chicco Front

Chicco RearThe Granera Alta Vineyard was already present as far back as the 1700’s as you can see on the rear of the label . The current vines are about 10 years old. The soil composition is clay and limestone. The harvest is usually, late September-October. The fermentation takes place in Stainless Steel and then transferred to Used French Oak Barriques for about 7 months then into bottle. They usually release these wines in July.

Chicco Glass

The 2013 of this wine was loaded with aromas of White Truffles and overpowering Almonds. This is the 2014 and I think more of a textbook Barbera D’Alba. The color is a beautiful ruby glistening red with purple hues on the edge. Medium body. Classic nose of intense, sweet cherry, plums, Chinese 5 spice, flower shop, marzipan and lots of earthy underbrush. Normally wines have strong entry but many have a drop on the finish. I found this to be exactly the opposite. A medium bodied frame, the ripe cherry awakens the palate pretty quickly but like typical Barbera D’Alba the acidity is high and the tannins are low and it had classic earth tones of wines from Piedmont (Easy To Identify On Blind Tasting) and the sweet mouthwatering cherry and spices got literally much more intense on the finish than on the mid palate. A very juicy wine and the acidity levels would make this very food friendly for meat dishes, pastas, grilled mushrooms or a washed rind cheese from the region as I had it with Taleggio. I will score this wine 87 points out of 100  …only for the fact that it is on sale for $19.99 but normally $21,99 and for retail consumers that’s a few dollars too much in my opinion. Chicco wines are normally Restaurant Only and we are very lucky at ABC to offer this wine as one of our Sourced And Certified Exclusives in Florida.

The Summary

I will still drink Barbera D’Astis. It’s just a lighter expression in most cases than Alba. I don’t think you can get more textbook than this 2014 Chicco Granera Alta for Barbera D’Alba. Bring out the soft earthy cheeses (Even Humboldt Fog would be a great one with this) Risottos, or even pizza with some earthy mushrooms. The quality shows they listened to their dad and got out of the delicatessen business and focused on the wines 7 days per week 365 days per year. At $19.99 this month of June.. as a purchase of Barbera is it a Do or A Don’t?… Like Hanna Barbera’s Fred Flintstone said “yabba dabba…..”DO”!

Grape-fully yours, Larry












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