An Italian Red at Home in California

Unti Barbera Dry Creek Valley 2007
Harvey Steiman
Posted: June 25, 2009

Usually I drink beer with pizza, or maybe a soft, easygoing Southern Italian red. Seeing Unti's 2007 Barbera on the by-the-glass list at Pizza Diavola in Geyserville, just a few miles from the vineyard and winery in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley, made me flash back to my early days of wine drinking. Then Sebastiani's Barbera was a regular choice for me. But you don't see too many well-made California Barberas these days. So, despite the Northern Italian ancestry of the grape, I went for a glass.

It's bright and zingy, and it made my mouth water with refreshing acidity as it rolled over my tongue like a silk scarf. The flavors center on raspberry and mulberry, with hints of smoky roasting meat weaving through the finish. 89 points, non-blind. The restaurant had it at $10 a glass. The winery sells it for $26 a bottle.

The winery's website says the grapes come from a 2-acre vineyard on the winery's ranch, planted with close spacing (4 feet by 6 feet) in the coolest part of the vineyard. Charmingly, the site doesn't give the yield in the typical tons per acre but as "4 to 5 pounds per vine." By my calculations, that's about 4 tons per acre. Either way, it has plenty of flavor and zest, and it cut right through the richness of Diavola's signature pizza of prosciutto and mascarpone.

WineSpectator.com members: Get our quick list of Easy Finds among California reds, plus Harvey Steiman's picks for the best U.S. pizzerias and his tips on great wine matches for pizza.

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