Boniperti Vignaioli, “Barton” Fara DOC 2016 (about $28)


Italian Wine for april, 2022

About two hours’ drive due north of the wine-centric town of Alba in Italy’s Piedmont region is a little-known winegrowing area called “Alto Piemonte”. The name translates as “high Piedmont’’ referencing its location at the northern tip of the Piedmont region in the foothills of the Italian Alps.

The Alto Piemonte encompasses ten relatively small red wine denominations, all of which are based on the Nebbiolo variety (known locally as Spanna). Because of the Alto Piemonte’s cooler, high-elevation climate, its wines tend to be lighter in style than Nebbiolo wines from vineyards further south around the town of Alba. They are more akin to, say, a Burgundy than a Barolo.

Boniperti Vignaioli is a small winery that is producing really big results in a pocket-sized subregion of the Alto Piemonte. The winery is located in in the Fara appellation, the smallest of the of the cluster of DOC’s that comprise the Alto Piemonte wine growing area. With a total vineyard area of approximately 15 acres, the Fara DOC is one of the smallest vineyard appellations in Italy if not all of Europe.

Here vineyard owner and winemaker Gilberto Boniperti manages about 8 acres of vineyards dedicated primarily to Nebbiolo with some Vespolina along with a small patch of Barbera. The vineyards are worked by hand and follow organic practices.

Boniperti’s Barton Fara ("Barton" is spelled with a very fashionable backward-facing "N" on the bottle label) is a blend of 70 percent Nebbiolo and 30 percent Vespolina, a common blend across the 2016 Boniperti Barton Fara DOCAlto Piemonte appellations. The grapes are harvested in early October, macerated and fermented on the grape skins in stainless steel tanks for about 3 weeks and then aged in large-format oak barrels for 26 months. There is no fining and only minimal filtration prior to bottling where it rests for an additional 4 months before release.

The alcohol content is a food-friendly 13 percent. Total annual production of the Barton Fara is only 2,800 bottles.

The 2016 Barton Fara is cherry-red in color and opens with an aromatic ensemble of ripe black cherries and raspberries enlivened with hints of sweet herbs. While a mid-weight wine it is richly textured with red fruit intensity, some oak spice notes and a lively streak of acidity, all characteristics of mountain Nebbiolo wines. There is complexity and elegance underlying the fruit flavors and while tannins play a minor supporting role there is plenty of depth and grip on the back end. It's quite a bit of wine for a relatively modest price.

The Barton Fara is very food-friendly and pairs well with a variety of dishes from risotto and veal to hearty roast lamb, pork and even game.


©Richard Marcis
April 8, 2022

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