Italian Barbera perfect pairing for Tomato TartJuly 6th, 2012 by brynn grimley
With summer fast upon us and tomato-growing season already in full swing, Ann Vogel’s recipe for Tomato Tart a la Margherita is quite timely.
The tomatoes take center stage here, leaving us to look for just the right wine to match the red juicy fruit, while also taking into consideration the richness of the pastry crust. Don’t worry, it didn’t take us long to come up with our pairing.
With roots in Italy, it’s no surprise the best wine match for this dish (and other tomato-dominated dishes) is Barbera. The two really do have an affinity for each other.
Crafted in the new or old world style, Barbera has a gorgeous, juicy, red fruit flavor. The wine is on the fence when it comes to determining whether it’s sweet or dry, but it has a bright, zingy acidity that makes it an easy pairing for tomatoes.
Barbera was started in Italy’s Piedmont region, in the northwest portion of the country. As Italians immigrated to the United States and eventually California, so too did the Barbera vines — along with other Italian wine varieties. While not every vine made it, Barbera turned out to be one of the more successful varietals. Today more than 8,000 acres of Barbera are planted in California alone. Most of these vines are in the Central Coast area, but there are also plantings in Mendocino and Contra Costa counties as well.
Washington is also home to Barbera, which is planted in the Red Mountain, Walla Walla and Columbia Valley AVAs.
For our recommendation with this dish we’re going to stick to a a California winery that has ties to Italy: Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.
The vineyard where the Barbera is grown includes rocky soil, warm days and cool evening breezes. This combination offers ideal growing conditions to produce good fruit concentration and crisp acidity in the wine.
Jacuzzi’s Barbera is handpicked and de-stemmed before it is crushed. This means the bitter elements of the stems never make it into the wine. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel and tasted daily until the proper level of tannin is reached, according to the winery’s website. Once the correct balance is met, the grapes are pressed.
The end result is a juicy, weighty wine that is crisp and
bursting with raspberry and cherry flavors — the perfect match for
the tomato tart.
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards is part of Cline Cellars in Sonoma, as such the wine is made in small batches. Their 2010 Barbera is available now on their website; or ask your wine steward for help.
Other Barberas to look for are Vietti Barbera d’Asti, Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba, or Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti.