DO Conca de Barberà is not the grape, Barbera
With today’s regional focus being on the Catalan wine region, DO Conca de Barberà, it’s probably a good moment to chat about something that’s very easy to confuse in that this wine region has absolutely nothing to do with the Italian wine variety of nearly the same name, Barbera.
It would be an exceptionally easy mistake to make, especially if in the United States where the emphasis is on the variety first and the region second when it comes to labeling. Say you roll in to your local wine shop and, if they have a sense of adventure, you find Conca de Barberà on the front label. When you get home, you will then immediately find that the accent on the ‘à’ makes a great deal of difference as the wines from this region and those from Piedmont where the Barbera grape is prolific in DOCG Nizza and DOCG Barbera d’Asti are exceedingly different from one another.
For starters, the red grapes of Conca de Barberà are typically blends with a base that’s usually Grenache, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is going to be a great deal different from the lighter, fruitier, and more acidic Barbera that one would find in Italy. But, it’s going to be a real shock if you end up with a bottle of Trepat. This is a grape considered native to Conca de Barberà and they’ve made great strides in taming its bold characteristics to a point where it’s a unique, engaging wine. It is not however going to be that Italian Barbera that you were expecting.
The good news is that if you do find yourself having made this mistake, you needn’t fear as the Conca de Barberà wines have risen a mightily in quality and complexity in recent years. Their interior position in Catalonia is tempered a great deal from Mediterranean breezes and they’ve been finding a unique tipicity to call their own, especially a good batch of young winemakers joined in on an “cellar incubator” that started in the last few years.
So while confusing you can rest assured that this is not an instance of asking for a beer at a bar and them telling you that they only have Tequila and that “it’s like beer“.