In the past, if my answer had ever been Burgundy, it was only because I didn't have a go-to wine, that didn't break the bank, that I really freaking loved.
Now ask me that question. Ask me.What is your favorite wine?
Well, it's taken me years to find, but I finally possess one.
The wine is Hilberg-Pasquero Barbera.
Even my hand covered my mouth when I said it. Prior, I pronounce it so stuck up too. . . "Prior to this trip to Piedmont, barbera was not a wine of choice for me."
It's produced by a husband and wife team in the middle of Roero, Piedmont. They are biodynamic. They know how to use French Barrique without killing the inherent qualities of the grape, and they have this touch that bleeds through the body of the wine that makes me feel arrived, like this is my wine. I have found you. You are my territory.
|Massy and Miklo Pasquero|
This Barbera is off the hook! Why was I so surprised? When I used to think about Barbera, you know the widely planted Piemontese grape that even Americans are becoming familiar with. . . that might even be a competitor to the words merlot or cabernet, especially if you linger (Piedmont) in parentheses right next to it. . .Well, when I used to consider this grape I only thought of a bright diaphanous red wine, high in acidity that did not tickle your mouth upon entry but perhaps burned your throat in the finish, full of red fruit and maybe some spice.
I know. So not fair, but I'm just being honest. . . and I'm talking about Barbera wine by the glass quality . . . not an old vintage Braida or "top shelf" Voerzio -- which give those wines to me in a blind tasting and no one will be impressed.
"Barbera resembles the personality of the Piedmontese people better than any other wine: rough, stubborn, strong, determined, persevering and silent (Wines of the Langhe)."
Hilberg-Pasquero Barbera d'Alba. This is the stuff! Let me preface that I do like to smell dirt in my wine. I like to smell night soil, animal manure, sweat and tears, blood and bones, blooming flowers, ripe fleshy fruit, delicate honey dripping off the mandible and tarsuses of bees. I want to taste life in my wine, not only wood or the impacts of modern man.
And this Barbera is my wine.
This Barbera is fresh, bright, well-balanced, powerful, structured, with the most elegant barnyard features folded and fused with red fruit and rock or clay.
It evolves in the glass.
It makes you think.
But the best of all it makes you smile.
In my humble opinion, this is what a good wine should do above all else.
I have a favorite wine and it's like having a best friend -- reliable, loving, exciting, available and easy to talk to.
"The Roero area is located between the Tanaro River and the Turin highlands in Southern Piedmont. It is not far from the Barolo and Barbaresco areas and has been separated from them by the natural erosion of the Tanaro."
|Massy super excited|
Hilberg Pasquero also produce a Nebbiolo and a Barbera, Brachetto blend they call Vareij. What is so poignant about all three of their wines is that they are all extremely different, yet have a consistent elegance and balance that I would characterize as the touch of Annette and Miklo. I have not drank as much of their nebbiolo, but do remember this distinct violet and radiant presence one finds in a blooming flower or ripening fruit -- and then this acidity awakens and cuts through any fattiness and you feel like "man, I thought only nature could produce something so perfect."
I feel the same way about the Vareij. For sure it is a more particular wine, in that Brachetto is predominantly or traditionally used as a sweet dessert wine and Hilberg-Pasquero have blended it as a dry wine and then have mixed it with their Barbera; but honestly, it too is a wine that I can drink everyday and it will always put a smile on my face.In the Vareij I think exotic flower and fruit, like lychee sometimes, other times maybe even passion fruit. It's chameleon like that, especially depending on what time of day you drink it and what you are eating. Maybe it just touches upon my moods, and if you sit down with a glass and open the doorway to step beyond your anticipations of everything in your life, you enter the world of Hilberg-Pasquero who walk upon marled soil, perhaps have even tripped over ancient fossils; who look outside their window with eyes that seek wonder greater than the new Ipad or even the internet and perhaps they even watch star dust fall and veneer their vines. . . they see phenomenon that we do not even regard. . . because they look. . . and they pay attention . . . and this is why I love them and their wines.
When Massy and I stepped foot onto their land, we truly entered a different world and we could feel it. We didn't want to leave. We are still touched by it. . . and perhaps over and above my taste buds tingling and dancing and singing to its impression of their wine, what I am really looking for is the portal that will take me back into their marvelous world.