Piedmont is the source of some of the greatest red wines in the world: Barolos and Barbarescos. But as Italian wine expert Burton Anderson points out, of all the wines of Piedmont, "nearly half the red is Barbera, much of which is for everyday, some of which is remarkable."
The label notes that the wine is named after Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor. And the Barbera wine grapes in this area of northern Italy were probably there long before Otto.
The Ottone I Barbera Piemonte is a medium light ruby red, several shades lighter than the Guigal Cotes du Rhone. There's a slightly spritzy note to the aromas, but the fruit flavors are fresh and inviting: red cherries, licorice and flowers, straightforward and intense. There's a bit of spritz on the palate as well, but the overall impression is positive. It's a useful wine--a good companion for black bean soup but would be equally good with whitefish, pork or chicken.
After tasting the excellent Villa Giada Barbera d'Asti (May 10, 2008), I wanted to learn more about Barbera. This wine lacks the complex spicy notes of the La Loggia Barbera d'Alba I reported on earlier (August 14, 2008). Both are good values for every day drinking, and I'm ready to make another go at the Villa Giada.