Our tasting impressions
Burzi's Plaustra demonstrates well how pure and fresh good Barbera can be. The wine is wonderfully focused and the fruit and acidity are in fine balance. Alberto's goal of added body and roundness are achieved, yet the house style of delicacy remains. Nicely drinkable but this should be capable of evolving for at least 5 years.
About this wine
100% Barbera (clone AT84) from a western-facing slope called Plaustra located in Santa Maria in the commune of La Morra. Planted in 2008 with high-density so their 7 hectares has 8,000 vines instead of the more typical 5,000. Alberto believes it forces the vines to work harder, ripen better and produce more complex fruit.
Vinification is over 6 days at a controlled temperature in steel tanks (where the wine stays to age) with a target of 28 °C. Part of the lees is mixed in order to produce a fuller and rounder body.
About the grape
Barbera is a dark-skinned grape from vigorously growing, easy to manage vines, so at least in Piedmont, most of the plantings are on the slopes, exposures and altitudes which are not best for Nebbiolo.
Barbera wines are high in acidity, low in tannins and light bodied - although they can give the impression that they are big and hearty because of their purplish-black hue and relative roundness.
Barbera has been experiencing a Renaissance over the last couple of decades due to greater attention from talented winemakers who have discovered how to better craft the wines.
About the vintage
2016 managed to one-up 2015 by matching it in ripeness but offering even better structure and acidity. An abundant crop of excellent grapes producing well balanced wines Is good news for everyone.
On your table
Because of its bright fruit and acidity, heft and limited tannins, Barbera marries well with tomato and can handle some spice. Try a pizza or pasta with fresh tomato sauce and moderately spicy sausage. I haven't tried it but a mild to moderately spiced chili con carne could be good as well. Drink at or just below cellar temperature.
The estate of Alberto Burzi in La Morra is young - the first vintage was 2012 - but so are Alberto and his sister Caterina. They are the first generation in their family to grow and bottle wine (a mere 20,000 per year). Their grandfather was part of a cooperative selling grapes to winemakers.
While they may be young, their vines are most definitely not - up to 80 years old. They farm naturally and organically, without certification. Alberto uses the Guyot system for vine training, typical in cool climates. He destems and does manual pump-overs 3 or 4 times per day. Bottling is earlier than most estates. He has begun experimenting with concrete tanks as an intermediary vessel between botti and bottle. He believes it provides more temperature stability. The bottis are neutral Austrian barrels.
What they might lack in years, they make up in passion, commitment and curiosity. Their goal is to produce delicate yet true expressions of Nebbiolo and Barbera and they are definitely succeeding. VDLT is proud to be supporting the vision and dedication of these wonderful young people.