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Barbera grape

Barbera is a dark-skinned wine grape variety found in several Italian wine regions, including its native Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania and even the island regions, Sicily and Sardinia. At the turn of the 21st Century, it was Italy’s third most-commonly planted red wine grape, after Sangiovese and Montepulciano. Barbera grapes are used both in blended wines and varietals – the latter are becoming increasingly common as Italy continues its move towards varietal labeling.

Barbera (like so many Italian wine grape varieties) has ancient origins, although it has only been traceably documented since the 17th Century. It was first cited in an official document in 1798, by Count Giuseppe Nuvolone-Pergamo of Scandaluzzo, deputy director of the Società Agraria di Torino (Agrarian Society of Turin). The count is credited with creating the first definitive list of Piedmont’s wine grape varieties. Barbera-based wines were well regarded even then, for their rustic-yet-generous character. They were a favorite among Savoyard army officers, who considered the wine a “sincere companion”, which helped them maintain their courage in battle.

The variety has traveled widely in the past two centuries, landing in Australia, Argentina and California, most likely following Italian migration patterns. It has this in common with Nebbiolo, although Barbera has adapted much more readily to these new environments than its fussy Piedmontese cousin, and is now responsible for wines of high quality in each of these countries. As with Nebbiolo, there is considerable debate over how Barbera is best treated; traditionalists favor longer maceration and less oak, while modernists champion rounder, more approachable styles softened by barrel maturation.

Barbera is the third most widely planted red grape variety in Italy though it is most common in the Asti and Alba regions. Barbera grapes produce rich, red wines with strong fruit flavors and aromas, especially black cherry. Other characteristics of wines made with Barbera grapes include low, mild tannins and high acidity which produces a crisp taste.

Barbera wines are traditionally aged in large casks which impart little oak flavor, but some today are aged in small French oak barrels, leading to strong oak flavors. Aging in smaller casks also imparts more tannins to the Barbera wines. (;

Barbera Wine Profile

FRUIT: Dark Cherry, Dried Strawberry, Plum, Blackberry
OTHER: Violet, Lavender, Dried Leaves, Incense, Vanilla, Nutmeg, Anise
OAK: Yes. Large neutral oak casks.
AGEABILITY: Traditionally enjoyed within 2-4 years.
Barbare, Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Aosta, Barbera Sarda, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato

De la vache à la fontine: warming up to the sun

De la vache à la fontine

De la vache à la fontine

A surreal calm surrounds these places, which resist the changes of time, proudly continuing with their antique traditions. There are two protagonists in the thousand year old history of the Valle d’Aosta tundra: man and cow. The ancient practice of fontina cheese making is passed down from father to son, and still today solitary and silent shepherds show the next generation, who are now mainly Moroccan immigrants, consequently rewriting history into a genuine multi-cultural society, translates them into richness for man and his land.
Working days repeat themselves cyclically during the season when the cows are brought out for mountain pasture for a period that lasts from May to September, while during the winter they rest in the cowsheds placed down in the dales, where a milder climate and a forage based on hay ensure that the cheese gets that unique flavor and nutritional characteristics. When the milking of all cows ends it’s the turn of milk processing; the milk is put in huge copper pots and the rennet is used to thicken it. After 45 minutes in this coagulation process the milk changes status and you can see lots of lumps, like the cottage cheese. Then this lumpy milk is warmed up to 40°C until it becomes a oft cream. This soft dough is then transferred in circular containers in order to be put under pressure and release all liquids left. Then the rounds of cheese are aligned on wood boards to mature in big cellars dug in the mountain rocks.
Hundred liters of milk are used to make a round of fontina, creating a tight relationship like the one between man and cow…de la vache à la fontine

 All pictures available here


409 bodies

409 bodies

409 bodies

409 is the number of bodies recognized and returned by the International Commission on Missing Person (ICMP) during 2013 to the victims’ families of the slaughter that took place in Srebrenica the 11th July 1995 and operated by Serbian-Bosnian troops. Every year the ICMP identifies, using DNA, the corpses found in mass graves; they could give back 6066 bodies on a total of 8372. All the facts happened during the ex-Yugoslavia war; Srebrenica’s enclave was considered a secure zone under the protection of UN Peacekeepers but nonetheless, for reasons not quite clear, the Serbian-Bosnian troops could get into the city deporting and killing all men of age between 14 and 60, throwing their bodies in more than 70 mass graves. The memorial ceremony begins in Visoko: the 409 coffins are loaded on some trucks in order to be moved to Potocari cemetery in Srebrenica. The trip along the 40 km through Spurka Republic comprises a stop in the capital Sarajevo; sides of a crowd in the road walk with the funeral procession to destination launching flowers and prayers. In the capital the funeral procession stops few times to let the people honor the corpses.Once arrived to destination the coffins are placed inside a huge depot in front of the cemetery, in the area where the UN Peacekeepers had their offices during the war; the light penetrates some small windows lighting up the green drapes used to decorate the coffins and, as for reflex, the faces of the women bent on them. Inside the cemetery the graves are prepared for the sepulture: one gravestone to pray on seems to be the closing act for a awareness already established. At the same time of the ceremony other events like a marathon and march take place in order to not forget those 2309 bodies still to be identified, so they won’t remain just numbers of a genocide.
The complete documentary is visible here:

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