Saturday, November 11, 2023

Classic Barbera with Michele Chiarlo

As we’re approaching the Thanksgiving holiday we all look forward to good times with family and friends along with good food and of course good wine. The question every Thanksgiving that folks wonder is which is the best wine to pair with your turkey and all the fixings. It’s a tough question considering the variety of flavors all mixed in on our dishes. The simple response is to drink what you like. Although, there are wines that will pair well on your Thanksgiving table due to their versatility. One of those grapes is the Barbera grape and that’s what I’ll be sharing today. 

Barbera grapes from Piedmont
Barbera grapes - copyright of Consorzio Barbera d'Asti

The Barbera Grape 

Over the years I have featured a couple wines from the known Michele Chiarlo winery of Piedmont. I won’t dig too much into the winery today as you can reference it in my previous article. The Barbera grape shows appearance in historical documents in Piedmont since 1512. Initially it was a grape that farmers used for their own personal consumption. As the word got out about Barbera and spread throughout the provinces it made it’s way on the theAmpelografia” list of Piedmont vines from the Count Nuvolone in 1798 and started to creep into international markets. 

In the 1980’s multiple producers devoted much effort to increase the quality of Barbera through their extensive work in the vineyards and cellars. Barbera is the most abundant grape fo the Piedmont wine region in northwestern Italy occupying 30% of the vineyard acreage

The wine I’m featuring today, the 2017 Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti DOCG, is grown from the Asti area as the designation insinuates in its name. The wines of the Barbera d’Asti DOCG are grown in the hills of the Monferrato and Asti hills. Originally this grape comes from Monferrato, but is grown mostly in the provinces of Asti and Alessandria. It was originally recognized as a DOC in 1970 and received the DOCG designation later in 2008

In 2000 3 sub-areas were delimited to express these areas true identity of Barbera d’Asti that comes along with stricter regulations. These sub-areas include Tinella, Colli Astiani and Nizza. Nizza was upgraded to its own DOCG designation starting with the 2014 vintage. 

map of Barbera d'Asti production zone
Copyright of Consorzio Barbera d'Asti
The Barbera of today is produced in a variety of styles whether it spends time in stainless or wood, but overall this is a grape that produces wines with freshness, pleasant acidity and great fruit mostly red fruits towards darker skinned fruits. The usage of wood will add vanilla nuances, spice and possibly some balsamic notes.  You’ll also see this grape grown throughout Italy and the world exemplifying it’s terroir, but in my opinion Piedmont will always be its home. 

The Wine 

Michele Chiarlo works with 4 of the classic, native grapes of Piedmont including Barbera, Nebbiolo, Cortese and Moscato. This week I tasted the 2017 Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti DOCG this week is made from 100% Barbera. This is considered their flagship wine and a classic Barbera. The name given to the wine, Le Orme, translates to the footsteps. In my opinion it represents the mark that Michele Chiarlo leaves behind him in serving over 60 harvests in the family’s business, especially working with this special grape in the region.  

The grapes that make up this wine are sourced from the family’s all 4 estates in the Nizza area including the esteemed La Court vineyard.   The soils are considered “Astian” soils that is sandy soil rich in limestone. The grapes spend 10 days macerating with the skins and are fermented in stainless steel. They are further refined for an additional 16 months with 3 months in oak and the rest in stainless steel and time in the bottle. 

The 2017 Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti DOCG had a little age on it, but was still drinking nicely. Ruby colored with a touch of purple hues. Aromas of plums, blackberries and black cherry. Medium-bodied and fresh on the palate. Cherry, blackberry and savory notes creating a pleasant wine where the flavors and elements are in harmony. A touch of tannins that are elegant towards the lingering finish. ABV 13.5% SRP $12.99

2017 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d'Asti
I paired this wine this week with a bacon wrapped filet with a side of roasted butternut squash.  I also tried it with pork gyoza potstickers I got from Trader Joe's.  All pairing lovely with this Barbera d'Asti so explore and try it with a number of dishes and you'll experience it's versatility as well.

Do you have a favorite Barbera?

You can find Barbera wines as well as the wines of Michele Chiarlo  on 


Information sourced from the Consorzio Barbera d'Asti e Vini del Monferrato
*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from the above site to support the operations of Vino Travels.  

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