Barbera from Columbia Valley, Washington, US
Opened 5 Feb 2018
Wine Advocate: 93
Wine Enthusiast: 91
International Wine Report: 90
Cellar Tracker: 88
Charles Smith, vagabond, restaurateur, rock band manager, hard partier, and after almost 40 years decides to postpone adulthood further by starting a winery. And doggone it, he’s good at it. Mr. Smith builds up the winery, produces some darn good wines and sells the business for a ludicrous amount of money, and then promptly starts another winery; which he will likely sell for an even larger and more absurd (ludicrouser?) amount of money. I spent 35 years at a nice, respectable and steady day job, thinking I was proceeding down a proper path. Retrospection of ones life can be painful.
Charles Smith has set up shop in the southeastern Washington state, Columbia Valley town of Walla Walla; a megalopolis of about 45,000 folks which sits close to the Oregon border. The Cervo Barbera wine is part of a collection of Italian grapes grown and produced from his Washington vineyards, where he strives to reproduce the quality and integrity that one would find in Italy.
The Barbera, native to northwestern Italy, is a dark purple skinned grape producing a wine of low tannins and high acidity. To combat the acidity, ageing the wine in old or neutral oak barrels is highly recommended to give the product more balance and a smoother finish.
The Northridge vineyard, planted in 2003, is a 92 acre site on a Wahluke Slope alluvial gravel fan, created approximately 15,000 years ago, in the Late Pleistocene, from the periodic floods originating from the ice dammed Glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana. Underneath the gravels are caliche deposits and Miocene-aged flood basalts. The gravels provide excellent drainage for the vine’s roots and the caliche provides the calcium carbonate that the Barbera grapes thrive on. Growing season temperatures range from daytime highs around 90ºF to nighttime lows approaching 40ºF. Rainfall, during the growing season, ranges from 0.6-2.25″ per month. The Northridge vineyard is approximated 2º degrees of latitude further north than its Italian Barbera counterparts in northwestern Italy and as a result receives more summertime sunshine.
The wines are whole cluster fermented and macerated for 37 days. The wine is aged in old oak barrels for 12 months.
A wine with a garnet to ruby-red color and an amber rim. A bouquet of earthy herbs and black berries. On the palate a fruity, full-bodied, slightly acidic but balanced wine. It has a fresh, long finish.
An outstanding wine at a fair price. Serve this Italian wine with Italian pastas and pizzas. Drink now, but should last until 2020. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.