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Online Shop | cuvees.com - The Italian red Barbera grape accounts for more than 50 percent of all the vineyards planted in Piedmont. A hardy and exuberant varietal, it's appreciated for its adaptability; a Barbera can be anything from cherry-scented and cheery, to rich and robust, to smooth and sultry. Yet the grape was not always so valued here. It owes its skyrocketing prominence almost solely to one man: Giacomo Bologna. In the 1960s this now-legendary winemaker was the first person to prove that, under the right planting and ageing conditions, Barberas could rank with the great wines of the world.

The son of a winemaker, Giacomo Bologna established the small Braida Winery in Rocchetta Tanaro, in the province of Asti, Piedmont, in 1961. By the early 1980s Braida di Bologna Giacomo had produced three stellar crus: Uccellone, Bricco della Bigotta and Ai Suma, a “Super Barbera”, extremely high quality wines and some of the most famous in Italy. By planting with care and then ageing the wines in small, French oak barrels in order to compensate for Barbera's lack of tannins, Bologna was able to stun the Piedmont wine world by creating deeply flavorful, complex wines out of a variety normally considered to be an acidic filler.

These days, Bologna's widow, Anna, and children, Raffaella and Giuseppe, run the wine estate. With their state-of-the-art cellars and forward-thinking work ethic, they have made Braida one of the most-respected wineries in Piedmont. Their wines -- most of them made from indigenous varieties -- are well known among wine lovers as being refreshing, easy-to-drink ambassadors of the region. Highly rated wines include Il Bacialé, an elegant blend made with Barbera and Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; Montebruna, made in a large wooden barrel according to ancient tradition; Brachetto d’Acqui, a sparkling, fresh and delicate red; and Moscato d’Asti ("Vigna Senza Nome"), an elegant, aromatic wine.