Pico Maccario Lavignone Barbera D'Asti 2013
Pico Maccario is a Barbera specialist located in the town of Mombaruzzo in the heart of Piedmont’s Barbera d’Asti DOCG. Brothers Pico and Vitaliano created the Pico Maccario brand in 1997 following four generations of selling the family grapes to other producers. Pico Maccario, the eldest brother, devotes himself to the production of the wine while Vitaliano handles the commercial aspects of the business. 8000 rose bushes planted at the end of each vine row are both the symbol of the winery as well as a traditional indicator of vine-threatening diseases. Pico Maccario’s winemaking style is to respect the true varietal character of Barbera, delivering wines with focused, clean aromas, and balanced, pleasant acidity. These are very complete Barberas, that are as versatile and enjoyable, as rich and satisfying, in pure Piemontese tradition. Barbera d’Asti DOCG lies in the heart of Italy’s Piedmont region. The town of Mombaruzzo is located about an hour’s drive southeast of Asti itself and is home to the Pico Maccario winery. Here, brothers Pico and Vitaliano Maccario own 70 contiguous hectares, a rarity in the region. 60 of the 70 hectares are dedicated to Barbera with the remainder planted to a handful of international and typical Piemontese varietals. The average elevation of the vineyards is 180 meters and the soils are based on clay. Pico Maccario credits the quality of their wines to the large proportion of old vines, some of which are over 80 years old. Pico Maccario has always dedicated a large part of their resources to technological innovation and research in the vineyard. They are strong in their conviction that innovative technology leads to the highest possible quality. The estate boasts state-of-the-art equipment, including stainless-steel tanks that have computerized controls for monitoring temperature at all stages of vinification. A range of Barberas are produced, each with different aging regimes. Lavignone, the most important wine of the estate, is aged entirely in stainless steel tanks while Tre Roveri ages in “botti grandi” (large casks) and Epico in French barriques. Purity and balance is the goal of every Pico Maccario wine.
Recognized as the source of the best Barbera in all of Italy, Asti is a province (as well as major city) in Piedmont, consisting of a gentle, rolling landscape with vineyards, farmland and forests alternating throughout.
Barbera d’Asti can be made in an array of styles from relatively straightforward, fruity and ready for consumption early, to the more concentrated, oak aged version with an ability to cellar impressively for 10-15 years and beyond. Some of the very best sites for Barbera in Asti are concentrated in the subzone of Nizza Monferrato. Other red varieties grown here include Freisa, Grignolino and Dolcetto, which can be bottled varietally or blended into Barbera.
Historically consumers commonly associated the Asti region with Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, both playful, aromatic, sparkling wines made from the Muscat grape. Asti Spumante is less sweet, fully fizzy and more alcoholic (yet still clocking in at only around 9% alcohol) while Moscato d’Asti is sweeter, gently sparkling (“frizzante”) and closer to 5 or 6% alcohol. Each is produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh and fruity flavors of the grape, often including peach, apricot, lychee and rose petal. Asti is also the spot for the pink-hued Brachetto d'Acqui, a slightly sparkling wine ready to charm with its raspberry and rose flavors and aromas.
Friendly, approachable and full of juicy red fruit, Barbera produces wines in a wide range of styles, from youthful, fresh and fruity to serious, structured and age-worthy. Piedmont is the most famous source of Barbera, but it is also planted in a few nearby Italian provinces and remains one of the most widely planted varieties in the country. Barbera actually can adapt to many climates and enjoys success in California—particularly in the Sierra Foothills—and some southern hemisphere wine regions.
In the Glass
Barbera is typically marked by flavors of red cherry, raspberry or blackberry and backed by a signature zingy acidity. Warmer sites produce Barberas with intensely ripe fruit and complex notes of cocoa, savory spice, anise and nutmeg. Cooler sites will produce a lighter Barbera with more finesse and intriguing notes of cranberry, graphite, smoke, lavender and violet.
Barbera’s prominent acidity makes it a natural match with tomato-based dishes, making it an easy pairing with a wide array of Italian cuisine. It works just as well with lighter red meat dishes, hamburgers or barbecue.
In the past it wasn’t common or even accepted to age Barbera in oak but today both styles—oaked and unoaked—abound, at least in Piedmont. In fact, many Piemontese producers today still make a deliciously pure, fruity and unoaked version, intended for earlier consumption. The wine world didn't realize Barbera's potential until the work of Giacomo Bologna in Asti in the 1960s. His debut of the barrique-aged Barbera called Bricco dell’Uccellone revealed this grape's true potential. Many of the better bottlings of Piemontese Barbera can age gracefully for 10-15 years or more.