Spot the difference

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1 Grape. 1 Region. 1 Winery. 3 Prices... Why?

A customer was browsing the shelves the other day and their eye was caught by 3 wines in Italy, all lined up side by side. All were Barbera from Piemonte, all produced by the same producer but all with different price tags. The customer's question was obvious… why?

Barbera d'Asti 'Ceppi Storici'This question arises with many wines from around the world, all same style, heritage, grape and region but at different price points and that same question comes up. It's been a long since acknowledged point of query for some prestigious French producers – why is a bottle of Burgundy on this side of the road sold for 20 euros and the one from across the road 50 euros? You make all these wines, they are the same grape, so why the price hike for a small hike across the road?

Well essentially it comes down to quality. Starting from the ground up – literally! Especially in Burgundy, terroir is everything! World renown for producing some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world, the Grand Cru vineyards possess the perfect terroir to produce the best of the best and account for approximately 2% of all Burgundian vineyards – hence the price tag. Down from this we have Premier Cru vineyards which are still exceptional but just a little less so, then we go to the ‘Village' wines which are sourced from a single village (named on the bottle) and finally there are the regional wines which can be from anywhere in the region, offering great value for money, ready to drink wines of quality.Rive Barbera d'Asti

However, the term ‘terroir' doesn't just refer to the soils. It is an all-encompassing phrase to include the soils types, the climate, the vineyards position, the grapes reaction to all this and of course the care and attention of the producer themselves. All these factors come together to contribute to the final product.

So back to the three Barberas on our shelf starting with Ceppi Storici Barbera d'Asti - wine made simply to be enjoyed. Sourced from 40-year-old vines from vineyards on the slopes of the Monferrato Hills, aged in French and traditional Piemonte Italian oak, at £8.95 offers great value for money.

D'Annona Barbera d'Asti SuperioreUp from this is the Rive Barbera d'Asti. Sourced from the oldest vineyards on the Il Cascinone estate. Vines are up to 70 years old and are low-yielding which allows for more fruit intensity. Hand-harvested and aged for 18 months in oak and another 6 months in bottle before release, we begin to see just some of ‘value' added to this wine in terms of care and attention.

Finally, at the top of the tree is the stunning D'Annona Barbera d'Asti Superiore. This vineyard lies on south-west facing slopes in premium Barbera terroir with 60-year-old vines. The vineyard is owned by the wine-maker to ensure the best possible practices are used to transform the hand-harvested, quality grapes into something astounding.

Of course, the true test of value in any wine is obviously in the drinking!

Last Updated: 01/08/2017
Author: Sarah Hattersley
Sarah Hattersley

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