Oh wow! This is a beautiful wine for almost any occasion. The name "Maraia" means "little rascal," and the label states that it's appropriate to describe the wine's "freshness, personality, and charm." Yes, it has all three of those qualities...and a lot more.
Deep, dark ruby with bluish tones. Part of the wine has been aged for a year in 225-liter French oak barrels; the rest, in traditional large barrels. I can smell the lovely aromas, even at arm's length, the moment the cork pops out of the bottle. And the smells just keep getting better. Dark cherries, violets along with some dark licorice, black pepper tones. More of the same on the palate. Ripe wild berries. Rich mouth feel but perfectly balanced. It's hard to stop drinking this wine.
Monferrato is a hilly area east of Turin. Wines from this area are typically inexpensive, fresh and meant to drink fairly young, five to seven years after the vintage date. This 2011 Monferrato Barbera was included on the Wine Spectator's list of the Top 100 wines of 2012. And with good reason.