On a recent drive up to the Hunter Valley I stopped by the Small Winemakers Centre, which is a joint cellar door facility for all the smaller producers in the region who cannot compete with the tourist hungry giants like Tempus Two, McGuigans, Hope Estate and others who have set up some very impressive cellar door facilities along the main tourist strip on Broke Road. If you turn left onto MacDonald Road just after you pass Tempus Two and Hope Estate you will find the Small Winemakers Centre directly opposite the Brokenwood cellar door entrance.
I have tried a number of wines that had come highly recommended from others, including wines from Andrew Thomas, The Little Wine Company and others. I brought home some wonderful wines such as the Andrew Thomas 2009 Braemore Semillon discussed in my post on Achacha fruit and wine pairing. However, the most recent bottle I have tried from that trip last year was the Margan Family 2006 Barbera. I don't actually recall having had a pure Barbera before and certainly I have never purchased a bottle, but I was sold on the story the lady at the centre told me of a well travelled tourist whose favourite grape variety of them all is Barbera. Apparently he had tried many Barbera's grown all around the world and he allegedly confessed to thinking the Margan Family Wine Makers version was close to, if not the best he had ever tried! True or not, I was sold!
Arriving in Australia in the 1960's, Barbera is far from the most popularly grown Italian grape varietal in Australian vineyards but many are finding that it does particularly well in our warm climate regions like the Hunter Valley in NSW. In contrast, Barbera is actually now the third most planted grape variety in Italy behind Sangiovese and Montepulciano.
Barbera's popularity could easily grow in Australia if more people tried versions like the Margan. Cherry red in colour with a purple tinge, it also has a beautifully attractive aroma and is just as attractive to drink. This wine has a really great balance of sweetness, fruit, savoury and oak flavours. Pair it with a good Osso Buco and you're in for a real treat!
Margan Family Wine Growers - 2006 Barbera
Price - $29 from the Small Winemakers Centre
Region - Hunter Valley, NSW
Recommended - Absolutely! Having never had a Barbera before I was genuinely excited to have found something new (to myself) that was so enjoyable!