2008 Fontana Fredda Papagena Barbera d’ Alba –Piedmont- Italy
Fontana Fredda is located in the heart of the Langhe district in Piedmont and has a winemaking history dating back to 1878. Here the marriage of food and wine is front and centre and the estate is spectacular with its own hotel, Michelin star restaurant and truffle forest all located at the winery. Italians really know how to live!
Piedmont is Italy’s westernmost region, with borders on Switzerland and France and is hemmed in by the Alps and the Apennines, which explains why its name means “foot of the mountain.” Although it ranks sixth among Italy’s regions in terms of production, Piedmont is considered a giant of their wine industry and is admired above all for its red wines. It is also home to the famous White Truffle and a Mecca for “Foodies” around the world.
The winery is large and, quite frankly spectacular, including a series of majestic 19th century brick-built cellars. It is one of the larger producers in the Piedmont region and a great example of what can be done when state-of-the-art technology and tradition are suitably matched.
Alba is a town and sub region within Piedmont and Barbara is the name of the grape variety.All around Alba there are the kind of rolling hills which have come to symbolize the Piedmontese landscape. Barbera vines thrive in the chalky, limestone-rich clay soils here, with the best Barbera d’Alba wines sourced from hillside vineyard sites close to the town of Barolo.
Barbera is number 2 on the totem pole of grape varieties in Piedmont. Nebbiolo is #1 and used to create the famed wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Dolcetto is # 3 and is the easy and early drinking red wine of the area. Barbera like most 2nd children can get overlooked. But this is not the case in this wine.
In recent years producers have taken two steps to bring the grape into the spotlight. The first was greater ripening, in most cases attained by planting the grape in choicer sites. The second key to success was to age the wine in French oak. Barbera makes dark wines that are low in tannins – an unusual combination, since both colour and tannins come from the skin of the grape, and the opposite of the orange-tinged, paler Nebbiolo with its immense, weighty tannins. New French oak lends wine tannins of its own, giving this newer style of Barbera the balanced structure it needs to support the added richness.
Fermentation for this wine took place in stainless steel vats, with frequent pump overs to extract colour and tannins. It then underwent malolatic fermentation in French oak barrels and remained there for 12 months. After bottling the wine was cellared for another 12 months.
French oak is a strong feature of this wine on the nose and palate, but it complements the fruit and makes the wine all the more impressive. Opening with dark, rich, currant fruits, (Cherries, liquorice, smoke and milk chocolate) it has a slightly earthy undertone on the nose. The dense palate is full rich and long with a spicy savoury twist. A wine that makes you want to grab that second glass.
You are looking at red meat here, but rather than BBQ’d steak, you will want to look at roast beef or roast lamb. You can also match with roast chicken and pork. If you wanted to go for the more traditional match of osso buco you will find the tomato based sauces are a match made in heaven.
From the 2008 vintage and now almost 5 years old, this wine is drinking really well right now. You could safely cellar for another 3-5 years, but when drinking in the next few months decant this wine for 10-15 minutes and enjoy with a nice bit of lean beef