Wine editor MARY DOWEY selects a silky northern Italian red that oozes style …
Fontanafredda Barbera d’Alba Raimonda 2016
I reckon every household needs a few bottles of a polished, medium-posh red wine – one that’s good enough to put on the table when more effort than usual has gone into making the dinner, or to give as a present without being head-spinningly expensive. One that tastes good with a wide range of foods or by itself. This confident Italian ticks those boxes with ease.
You’ll notice the enticing aromas first – heady, pure wafts of blackberries, rose petals and spice floating up from the glass. The flavours are admirably pure too, spun together with a silkiness that glides across the palate. As high acidity is a trademark of the Barbera grape, this red is extra-juicy and moreish rather than plodding – not unlike what you might imagine a Piedmont version of Pinot Noir to turn out like. The tannins are gentle and the oak influence is restrained.
Fontanafredda has an interesting past: the estate was bought in 1858 by King Vittorio Emanuele II as a present for his mistress Rosa Vercellana. She handed it down to their children, one of whom became Count of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda. The king, meanwhile, developed the first vineyard in Barolo.
After many ups and downs through the 20th century, the company has been in local hands again since 2009 and was named European Winery of the Year 2017 by the influential US publication Wine Enthusiast. If you happen to come across Fontanafredda Gavi di Gavi, the companion white to this red, it too is brilliantly appetising and well worth buying.
While Barbera d’Alba Raimonda will partner all kinds of savoury dishes well, it’s especially delicious with roast beef, or pasta with mushrooms and lashings of Parmesan.
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