This morning’s tasting, which explored the barberas of Alba, has been a return to form. Unfortunately, I don’t mean for barbera, I mean a return to the abuses and abrasive aggression of our Asti and Nizza tastings. A brief run of authentic, high-quality samples at the beginning (I was particularly taken by a Costa di Bussia 2008 Barbera d’Alba, which had been gently nudged towards suppleness but not in a way that deformed the wine) gave us some hope, but then the nastiness returned. Much could be (and has been) said about the wooden abuses being committed, so often expressed as vanilla and chocolate in these wines, but I continue to think that the bigger problem is tannin…which, of course, is related to that same oaky source. At this point, I’d welcome a plague of micro-oxidation just to tame the brutal tannic onslaught. But I don’t want to give the local producers any more ideas for fun technological doodads that don’t fit underneath the Natale tree.
Yes, age will help. But I would be very, very surprised if it helped enough. And based on some of the older examples of the modernistic style we’ve tasted, it will not. The combination of tannin, wood, often overt heat, fruit driven to and beyond its useful life, and biting structure is just not appealing in any way.