Wine Review: 2009 Gomba Barbera d’Alba Traifilari

31 05 2011

Long time no PnP!  One consequence of drinking almost 50 wines over 16 hours in 2 days is that it doesn’t necessarily make you want to come home and WRITE about wine.  Two thirds of my Intermediate WSET class is now in the books, with the last day and the exam next Saturday, and after a day off yesterday my palate’s rested up and I’m ready to get back in the saddle.

I will admit that Barbera doesn't often shine in the label category. Marketing minds have to be able to do better than this.

I went with another Barbera d’Alba tonight so soon after the Cogno Barbera I wrote up a couple reviews ago because I spent the first half of that review raving about how awesome Barbera was and then the second half of the review backpedalling because the wine wasn’t all that great, or at least not all that typical of the grape.  In order to make sure not to duplicate my mistake, this time I picked a wine that I’ve had in previous vintages, and one that might be one of the all-time great bottle bargains in the $20-or-less category.  I’ve tracked down the Gomba for the past two years, but this was my first crack at the 2009.

Thankfully, the latest rendition of the Gomba Traifilari didn’t disappoint — this is prototypical Barbera.  It had a clear, translucent maroon/purple colour and a quieter, understated nose of cherries, cinnamon and other spices, earth and cedar.  But the nose didn’t indicate a boring wine; instead, it was like a coiled spring hinting at the flavours waiting to unleash themselves as soon as the wine hit my palate.  Wham!  First came the explosion of big bright red flavours:  more cherry, but also raspberry and rose petals, all held by a lightweight body with notably tangy acidity.  Then came the grounding anchor of earth notes and fine but persistent tannins which picked up strength towards a fairly long (by $20 wine standards, anyway) finish of strawberry, dust and pepper.  It’s like the best of the New World (lots of bold fruit) mixed with the best of the Old World (balance, restraint and a sense of the place where the wine is from).

Cork Rating: 1.5/10 (What do you say -- worst cork ever? Does it have a single redeeming quality other than being in Italian?)

I wouldn’t say this is a phenomenal wine — it’s not overly complex and isn’t one of those wines that make the heavens open each time you take a sip — but it is an extremely well-made example of a fantastic grape at an amazingly reasonable price.  Because it isn’t overly heavy and has really high acidity, it will go great with tons of different types of food, but I think it would make an ideal Tuesday night pizza wine.  If you’ve never had a Barbera before, forget the Cogno and its $35+ price tag and spend half as much on a bottle of this Gomba instead.  I got this bottle at the Ferocious Grape, but I suspect it’s available at a few spots around town.  If you’ve had it, let me know what you think in the comments!

88 points

$15 to $20 CDN

[Wine Jargon Notes:
New World/Old World Old World wines are those that come from Europe; New World wines are those from non-European locations like the US, Australia, South America, etc..  Or as I learned in class this weekend, if you want to get technical about it, Old World wine countries are those where the genus of grape that is typically made into the best wines (vitis vinifera) is indigenous, whereas New World countries are those where vitis vinifera is not indigenous but was later imported.  Now you know.]
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