€17.85, £175 a dozen in bond
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Arch-traditionalist Giuseppe Rinaldi is rightly famous for his Barolo. I tried his 2010 Langhe Nebbiolo soon after visiting him last June and wasn't wildly enthusiastic. But I finally got round to tasting Giuseppe Rinaldi 2011 Barbera d'Alba this week and absolutely loved it.
Rinaldi, aided and abetted by his daughter Marta in the winery and Carlotta in the vineyards, is a member of the original committee of ViniVeri.net, the organic and biodynamic growers' association. Needless to say, the man known locally as Citrico, very possibly for his acid comments on all and sundry, has not gone through the certification process. But if ever a wine tasted glad to be alive it is this Barbera.
It has nothing in common with the heavily oaked Barberas that emerged in the 1990s. In fact you can't taste any oak influence at all. It was aged for around a year in Rinaldi's ancient tall wooden casks. It is not short of alcohol (the label claims 14.5%) but this is all vibrant fruit rather than heat. According to David Harvey of Rinaldi's UK importer Raeburn Fine Wines of Edinburgh, all the Rinaldi wines have 'dramatically put on fruit over the last five vintages or so compared with before Marta joined'. I should imagine this trend only intensified when Carlotta arrived back from working in New Zealand.
The colour is a particularly intense dark crimson and the fruit is pure bitter cherry with more than a hint of elderberry – no shortage of tang and even a suggestion of spritz, but nothing at all worrying. I'd drink this over the next three years; there's no point in letting the youthful fruit fade too much. This is surely reminiscent of pure Barbera fruit with the overlay of intensity due to climate change and extremely fastidious farming.
According to wine-searcher.com, it is available in the UK, Belgium and Germany (with a wide price disparity between these last two). In the UK it's available form Justerini & Brooks and Fine & Rare in bond by the dozen as well as by the bottle from Noble Fine Liquor in Broadway Market, London E8, and from Raeburn themselves at prices they quote as '£20-28'.
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