‘Terra D’Oro Barbera’ Review by Larisa Code

Wine of the Month
Larisa Code

Featured Wine: Terra D’Oro Barbera
Grape Variety: 100% Barbera-three clones from four of their estate vineyards
Region: Amador County, California
Country: United States of America
Vintage: 2018
Vinification: Fermented in stainless steel. Extended 9-day skin contact maceration
Aging: Aged 16 months in American and French oak.
Color: Deep Ruby with accents of burgundy
Price: $20-$30

If you’ve read some of my reviews, you know I am a sucker for Old-World wines; if you are a new reader, you should know, I am a sucker for Old-World wines. One grape I truly love is the Barbera grape, which originated in the North Western Piedmont region of Italy. As people migrated from Italy, many varietals came with them and many of these grapes flourish in the USA (amongst other places). Although I am biased, and always prefer when the grape is grown in its native land, I was still enthusiastic to try Terra D’Oro Barbera, grown in the beautiful state of California. 

One of the reasons I like grapes to be grown in their native land is there is less necessity to use pesticides and herbicides; the grapes can be grown organically and sustainably with more ease. But guess what? Terra D’Oro vineyard practices sustainability; as a matter of fact, they are slowly getting all 800 acres certified organic (no small feat). Here are a few of Terra D’Oro’s practices which impress me: thinning their vines by hand to increase air circulation and decrease the likelihood of powder mildew (this also increases sunlight penetration so the grapes ripen uniformly), setting spore traps so they know about mildew’s presence almost immediately, planting California native flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects which aids in controlling infestations, and placing owl boxes all over the property to control rodents. I love all of that, so very much. When I know a vineyard uses such care in their winemaking process, I am much more excited about the wine.
Before you delve into this beautiful medium bodied wine, I suggest you let it breathe for at least 15 minutes, I also suggest you give it a soft chill, serving it between 60 and 65 degrees. Once you pour a glass, it is worth it to hold the wine up to the light and enjoy the bright ruby red color dancing amongst a bit of burgundy. Take in the aromas of Bing cherry, ripe plum, spring flowers, vanilla, clove, leather, red fruit and wild California native sage. It is a lot of deliciousness. If you opt for a nice gulp, you will be introduced to a juicy, well-rounded wine with light to medium tannins, a solid amount of acidity and a long oaky finish. If you take your time, you will pick up ripe plum, red fruit, clove, nutmeg, vanilla and oak. The long finish has prominent notes of oak along with vanilla and a touch of blackberry. 

Barbera wines, although high in acidity, are still lovely on their own, but even better with food. My first pairing was with a charcuterie board filled with aged, pungent cheeses, olive tapenade and Italian bread. I especially enjoyed Terra D’Oro with Gorgonzola; the creaminess of the cheese embraced the acidity, while the pungent tartness of the cheese was finessed by the jamminess of Terra D’Oro. In this instance, the aromas of the wine and cheese created a wonderful sensation, making my mouth water for another sip, another bite. What a nice, easy and satisfying pairing. My second pairing was with a Korean rice bowl. Marinated chicken thighs in a honey, sesame, ginger and tamari sauce accompanied with spicy pickled cucumbers, kimchi and avocado. Wow!!! Those flavors really complimented the wine or vice versa. The creamy avocado and semi-sweet cucumbers melded with the acidity, the spiciness matched beautifully with the fruit of the wine and the honey drenched, salty marinade made such a unique experience of Terra D’Oro, it was heavenly. 

I feel like as fall creeps in and the colors of our surroundings begin to morph, the sun sending off beautiful orange and golden rays as it sets, sitting inside and looking out at the world is a perfect plan; you should sit somewhere near a big window and take it all in. Acoustic music would complement this setting so well. Place fall inspired flowers on the table, late blooming dahlias and chrysanthemums or a bunch of deep orange and burgundy kangaroo paws adding some tall decorative grass cuttings; either is enticing. 

Alone or with friends, an entire meal or just cheese plates, acoustic music or streaming reality tv shows, none of it matters when you have a great glass of wine in your hand.

Terra D’Oro Barbera is a delicious representation of what the Barbera grape can do. As a matter of fact, in a blind taste, you may mistake it for a wine made in Italy. It is delicious.