Hungry Canines, Thirsty Dudes (Tasting Nizza Barbera For

Is there anything more adorable than a Weimaraner happily chomping on Barbera grapes in a Monferrato vineyard? Besides maybe a Weimaraner puppy eating grapes in that vineyard?

That’s the question that we pose (sort of) in the latest Monferrato Moves installment over at In that video (also embedded below), I have the pleasure of sitting down with Tenuta Olim Bauda‘s Gianni Bertolino, who, aside from owning dogs and making incredibly serious, long-lived, and tasty Barbera, also happens to be President of the Associazione dei Produttori del Nizza. So, he knows a couple (of hundred) things about the tippy-top of the Barbera DOCG quality pyramid.

In this vid, Bertolino and I taste through a couple of more recent Nizza DOCG releases, and I don’t spit, which should tell you something about how good his wines are. Enjoy!


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Puzzle Pieces (Exploring The Quality Pyramid At

One of the more endearingly maddening things about European wine classifications is that they try to lump location, in aspects that are increasingly specific, and “quality,” in ways that are often nebulous.

Over at, I take this dichotomy head-on, in my dime-store-philosphical way (not yet trademarked, but it might as well be at this point). Obviously, the focus of that piece is on the “quality pyramid” as it pertains specifically to Barbera in Asti and the Monferrato area, but the idea that the pyramid is more reflective of stylistic personality rather than core quality (in the I’m-good-therefore-you-are-bad sense) is, I think, something that plagues many of the most well-established wine regions not just in Northern Italy, but in all of Italy; and, arguably, all of Western Europe.

Pour a glass, have a read, and then we can argue in buzzed pseudo-philosophy about it all!



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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Puzzle Pieces (Exploring The Quality Pyramid At from - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Hello, My Name Is… Barbera

Last year, I spent a good amount of time (lucky for me) jaunting around the northern Italian countryside, taking in the sights, sounds, and (most importantly!) the flavors of Asti and Monferrato.

I’m happy to report that the work that we (that’s me and the Consorzio Barbera d’Asti e Vini del Monferrato) did in those beautiful environs is now being published on an English-language website called My Name is Barbera.

My work there will consist of a combination of long-form articles, as well as short video vignettes that we recorded during the trip (the first of which is embedded below), the latter of which will have about as much jealous-rage-enducing views of the gorgeous Italian countryside as you can handle in a minute and half without drooling on your screen or starting to smash things.

While this work and publishing is in play, I won’t be formally reviewing any Barbera wines from the area here on 1WD (this is a paying gig, after all), but I make no promises as to not doing my best to stoke your travel bug urges to get your butt over there and witness Monferrato’s beauty for yourself. For now, though, you can enjoy it via proxy.

Anyway, you can follow along with my Monferrato escapades at

Monferrato Moves Episode #1 – Open Space


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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Hello, My Name Is… Barbera from - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine Reviews: Palmina

I’ve known about Palmina’s wines for a while, but this was the first time I tasted them. The verdict for me is abundantly clear: these wines are fascinating and delicious.

Based in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, Palmina has a singular and precise vision: to make site-specific California interpretations of some classic Northern Italian grapes. But these aren’t your burly, heavily-oaked Cal-Itals. Palmina’s wines share a characteristic elegance, refreshing acidity, and moderate alcohol content. These wines are made with native yeast fermentation and they’re aged in old oak barrels.

Steve Clifton kicked off Palmina in 1995. He started off only making red wines from sites around Santa Barbara County. He expanded to make a few whites, including a Pinot Grigio that may give people dismissive about this grape some cause to reconsider. I cannot remember a $20 California white wine I’ve gotten that excited about in a long time. For the floral, tropical-loving white wine drinker, the Malvasia Bianca is a must-try. Considering these wines all fall into the $20-$40 range, the amount of quality for the price is very impressive.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

palminaReviews: 2015 Palmina Pinot Grigio - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $20
Pale lemon color. Gorgeous aromatics: orange, lemon, nettle, white flowers, a wonderful saline component — an impressive and complex display. Medium-light-bodied and the acidity is laser-like precise. A clean and zesty wine but plenty of flavor and a slightly creamy texture on the palate. Lemon curd, tangerine, honeydew and key lime fruit, all of it pure and vibrant, topped in floral, saline, mineral and spiced tea notes. This ain’t your auntie’s Pinot Grigio. Holy moly this is good! Fermented in stainless steel, 12.5% alcohol, this is a great by-the-case purchase for summer. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Palmina Malvasia Bianca Larner Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard Canyon
SRP: $26
Medium yellow color. Wow, this is such a floral/tropical medley on the nose: lychee, pineapple, kiwi, green table grapes, honeysuckle, wow — I feel like you could dab this on your neck like perfume and smell amazing for a few hours. Medium-bodied on the palate, the zesty acidity balanced out nicely against the plush tropical fruits. I get guava, pineapple, lychee and mango, but it’s drizzled with lime and ginger and topped with flowers, flowers and flowers, and some mountain stream minerals. I’m usually less a fan of this much tropical and floral intensity, but this is also a nervy, refreshing and profoundly easy-drinking wine. Delicious. A light 12% alcohol, this is aged 12 months in old French oak. One of the best non-Italian examples of this grape I’ve tasted.  (89 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Palmina Barbera Walker Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos District
SRP: $30
Deep ruby color. Smells saucy and ripe with juicy cherries and plums along with sweet violets and basil as well. Medium-plus-bodied with dusty tannins and a tart and refreshing acidic presence. I love the sweet plums and cherries, the fruit is so ripe and juicy but crunchy. Elements of sweet clove, spicy pepper and sweet basil, the flavors are woven together so well. Very fresh and balanced, but I think this will unfold nicely with near-term cellaring. 14% alcohol, this wine spends 24 months in neutral French oak. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Palmina Dolcetto - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $20
Deep ruby color. Lovely sweet red and black cherry fruit on the nose along with cola, sweet herbs and cedar. Medium-bodied with smooth tannins and some moderate acidity. The red and black berry fruit is tart and crunchy but plenty ripe, and the fruit is doused in cola, vanilla, sweet black pepper glaze. Juicy but tart, fun but straight up delicious. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2009 Palmina Nebbiolo - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $40
Bright ruby color. I love these aromas: black and red cherries, sour plums, along with some charcoal, smoke, chewing tobacco and balsamic notes – lovely complexity that opens up a lot with air. A real bright sense of acidity keeps this wine lip-smacking, but the tannins provide a sturdy structure, although they’re fined down around the edges and show no signs of harshness. Tart red plums and berries, the fruit is absolutely delicious, but the non-fruit flavors are firing: pipe tobacco, white pepper, roses, mossy soil. Really complex stuff here, and the flavors shift and evolve with air. I’ve only tasted a few really compelling American Nebbiolos, and this is one of them. Aged 42 months in French oak. (91 points IJB)