Pizza is my go-to comfort food, and I was craving a good Neapolitan-style pie the other night, so my husband and I ordered a Margherita-based pizza topped with pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives. I pulled out a Barbera—my last bottle of the Briccotondo, a value-priced wine that earned a spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2007.
With its high acidity and ripe fruit, Barbera is a perfect wine to offset the combination of tomatoes' acidity, cheese's creaminess and meat's fattiness. (See Pizza and Wine for more on pairing.) The soft-textured Briccotondo offered blackberry, black cherry and plum with a hint of smokiness and spice, leading into a juicy, sweet-tart, fruity finish. I've had this wine several times over the past year—buying by the case brought the price down to just over $10 a bottle—and it seems to have become fuller and rounder; this was the best it's shown. 90 points, non-blind.
Briccotondo, made from Barbera grown in the Monferrato hills, is fermented in stainless steel and aged partly in new French oak and partly in large Slavonian oak casks for about five months. With 40,000 to 50,000 cases produced, it's fairly easy to find.
Established in 1878, Fontanafredda is one of Piedmont's larger producers, bottling everything from Gavi and Moscato d'Asti to Barolo and Barbaresco. Following a recent uptick in quality, in 2008, the bank that owned the winery for nearly 80 years sold a majority stake to partners in the Eataly luxury supermarket chain, so we'll see if that brings any changes.