Matt Gregory. The Italian Red (Barbera)
Matt Gregory The English Winemaker.
The Italian Red is made with pure Barbera grapes from the La Quercia vineyard. The soil is the typical calcareous marl of the Monferrato, and the vines are southwest facing at 350 metres above sea level. The Barbera ripens early here and Matt picks the fruit much earlier than anybody locally to keep alcohol levels down and retain acidity.
The grapes are hand sorted and fermented with wild yeasts in two six year old, 500 litre tonneaux. Very limited handling for a very gentle infusion: hand plunged just twice and not pumped over. Left on skins for 43 days before pressing in a traditional basket press, left on lees in stainless steel before bottling in October 2020 without fining or filtration but a very small (20 ppm) addition of sulphur.
The label doesn’t disclose the grape variety for bureaucracy reasons. Matt says: “Although this wine is not the subversive one the Italian authorities think it is, it is pushing the boundaries of what is usual for Barbera in this particular corner of the world. The tradition is to handle Barbera quite a lot as the tannins can be quite shy and soft, so plunging and pumping help get more extraction, pressed off skins fairly smartly after alcoholic fermentation and then either a quick rest in steel or an extended stay in oak before bottling. Conversely The Italian Red is very much left alone, and for quite a long time before pressing, and again left alone in tank for an extended period before bottling. The result is a Barbera that has finesse and structure without oak as a supporting character.”
The label’s artwork is by Vanessa Stone.