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Northwest Italy is the viticultural home for Barbera, but Italian immigrants spread it through much of the New World, where its acidity is valued in blended wines for the ‘freshness’ it imparts. Barbera is found in the northwestern part of Italy, particularly in Monferrato, and to a lesser extent further south. Nearly half of all grape vine plantings in Piedmont are Barbera. It likes the same conditions as Nebbiolo, but the latter is more profitable, fetching nearly twice, so is grown on the best sites. The earlier-ripening Barbera is grown on the cooler lower slopes below the Nebbiolo, and other secondary locations. This explains why relatively little Barbera is grown around Alba, where the wines are entitled to the appellation Barbera d’Alba. Thus the best known Barbera is the DOCG of Barbera d’Asti. The Barbera del Monferrato DOC – which tends to be somewhat sparkling (frizzante) – is seldom exported.

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