Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Barbera, it's impossible not to make some comparison to the Barbera's of the Piedmont in Italy. I was excited to try this wine both as a varietal, and also given its provenance from Amador County.
Into the glass it went. Hello...what's this? It was much deeper color than the Barbera I am used to drinking. Same Ruby, but dense all the way to the meniscus. Beautiful. The aroma was pronounced, with cherry leading the way. Normally I pick up a little acidity in a Barbera up front, but not with the Scott Harvey. Ripe, deep fruit aromas with red plum joining the cherry. Also some earth like something savory beneath the fruit and a little toasted wood. With time in the glass, some hints of sweetness came through like a touch of cherry cola or sweet tobacco and later in the evening just a tiny bit of licorice.
That first taste was all New World. Nicely fruit forward with a big round entry. Smooth and mouth-filling. We were foraging, so I had the wine with locally made salami - there was a salami with fennel, a lamb salami and prosciutto. Three month old Manchego and some Kerrygold Cheddar kept the meats company. It worked really well, not overpowering the salami and not overwhelmed by the cheese. This isn't your acid-leading style of Barbera, but there is nice bright acidity. It's definitely a food friendly wine. And at 15.7% ABV I am betting this will hold its own with any dish.
With that level of alcohol, you can sense the presence, but it is well balanced by the fruit and acidity. Aside from hints of toast, oak is not strongly featured in this wine and the tannins are fine and rounded. It's ready to enjoy now. This is a great choice for a red fruit oriented varietal with great drinkability and food pairing qualities.
Scott Harvey is well known for their fantastic Zinfandel, but I'd place this wine up there with their best. A fantastic example of the deep, rich fruit found in Amador County wines. They say on the Scott Harvey web site that they believe Amador County is the best place in the world to grow Barbera. The 2019 J&S Reserve could make a believer out of you. Give it a try, along with the other Scott Harvey wines.
See this on the Scott Harvey site: