Malcolm Jolley finds an Italian bargain on the regular shelves of the LCBO.

Winemaker Dr. Matteo Ascheri in Toronto, April 2018.

Ascheri Barbera d’Alba DOC 2016 | $14.95 | LCBO# 21979

Barbera is the third ‘b’ wine of Piedmont, in Northwestern Italy, which I guess makes it the ‘c’ wine of ‘b’ wines there. It does not get the attention and adulation of Barolo and Barberesco, which are made from the ‘noble’ grape Nebbiolo, are generally made to be aged, and often cost an arm and a leg. Barbera, which is actually the name of the grape the wine is made from, is usually made to be drunk relatively young, and is usually made without costly inputs like new French barrels, so is generally much less expensive than the wines made from Nebbiolo. Still, this is changing as winemakers get better at making it, and it’s not unusually now to see Barbera creep up past the $20, or even $30 a bottle mark. This is why the 2016 Ascheri Barbera d’Alba 2016 is such a welcome find. At just under $15 it’s a great Italian red wine value, made by a famous Barolo house, ready to opened for a glass to go with supper on any evening.

On the one hand, it’s light and bright, full of acidity and uncomplicated dark cherry, on the other it’s somehow heavy on the palate with inky, blueberry notes in the finish, almost like a Northern Rhône Syrah without the pepperiness. I guess it’s just a good all purpose red, and it’s certainly good with food off the grill.

The 2016 Ascheri Barbera d’Alba is part of the LCBO’s ‘general list’, which means you can find it ont he regular shelves in most sotres of any size. To find one stocking it, click here.