Barbera is the “workhorse” of the Piedmont region in Northern Italy: malleable, it can be made in a great range of styles, from fresh and juicy to rich and oak-laced, but it is also affordable. For this reason, it had long been the most popular “table wine” of the region, and that appeal held true for Americans as well, who enjoy its fruity, velvety texture, medium body and delicate tannins. Massanois had long been a source for some of the most compelling Barbera d’Asti sold in the USA, but we found that we were representing a winery that had outgrown us significantly. And so, we embarked upon a hunt for the next great, affordable Barbera d’Asti. We lined up blind-tasting panels with multiple wines and, hands down, the unknown Barbera, sent to us by an enologist friend of one of our favorite Barolo producers, won the competition, taking first place in an initial round and then outstripping the competition after getting 30 minutes of oxygen. We knew we had found our guy, and then tasted his crisp, clean, pure apricot delight Moscato d’Asti, which confirmed our selection.
Cascina Guido Berta is ideally situated in the midst of what is considered “The Golden Triangle” of the Asti appellation, in the town of San Marzano Oliveto in Piedmont, well known for its fabulous Barbera wines, as well as the charming Moscato d’Asti. Guido Berta’s parents chose to return to an agricultural existence and bought the 25-hectare farm in order to grow grapes. In 1997, after growing up on the property, Guido took over direction of the estate, establishing his cellar where he would start to make his own wines. With vines averaging 35 years old, he grows mostly Barbera and Moscato, with small plantations of Nebbiolo and Chardonnay.
Now working out of a freshly-minted winemaking cellar on the property, Guido Berta works according to the sustainable agriculture dictates of the lotta integrata, however he has already started the process of converting all his vineyards to organic farming. Already, one can see the results of this natural agriculture in the vigor of his vines and the lush carpet of fertile grasses and legumes between rows. While more labor intensive and risk-prone, Guido feels strongly that the vineyards must be pure, given that he himself is working in them every day, not to mention his young children.
A precious, family-owned and -run Monferrato estate, producing artisanal, well-priced wines from the classic varieties of this storied region: Cascina Guido Berta.