Temperature control that made the biggest contribution in ushering the Barbera d’Asti Docg into the contemporary era.
In our last couple of posts here and here, we took a look at the legacy of stainless-steel fermentation and aging in Barbera d’Asti after the technology was first widely adopted in the appellation in the 1980s.
Before that time, either cement tanks or wood casks were used for fermentation and aging. And cask was the preferred vessel for aging (before bottle aging). The advent of stainless-steel tanks helped to reshape Barbera d’Asti as a contender in the contemporary wine world: Thanks to the “new” medium, the wines became cleaner and more polished, with significantly fewer instances of unwanted aromas (that were sometimes imparted by the casks).
But arguably even more important than the new and squeaky clean medium was the fact that with stainless steel also came temperature control. And temperature control would prove to be a game-changer for Barbera d’Asti.
Anyone familiar with the Barbara grape and with Barbera d’Asti knows that one of the appellation’s hallmarks is its ability to deliver freshness and intense fruit flavor. The fact that winemakers were able to start using temperature control during fermentation helped them to ensure that the natural aromas and flavors of the Barbera grape were preserved once the fruit arrived at the winery and the vinification process was initiated.
It also helped the winemakers to preserve the wine’s freshness, in other words, the combination of Barbera’s classic zinging acidity and its bright, often slightly unripe or just ripe fruit character. The expressions of Barbera d’Asti made today are renowned for their freshness and their brilliant fruit flavors. And that reputation and legacy are inextricably tied to the advent and widespread embrace of stainless-steel tanks and temperature control in the appellation.
Even though the use of stainless steel and barriques radically changed Barbera d’Asti, it was (arguably) temperature control that made the biggest contribution in ushering the appellation into the contemporary era.