Barbaresco. The wine in a moment, but first let’s enjoy that wonderful name.
Bar bar bar is the sound the Greeks heard when they met the Medes and Persians and other strangers. They called these Βαρβαροι, hence barbarians. (Hottentot –the name Europeans once gave to people living in southwest Africa also reflects the sound of the local language to an uncomprehending visitor.) The Romans borrowed the word from the Greeks and used it to describe people living in north Africa — Berbers — and more generally non-Latin speakers, including the hordes already massing ominously in the north.
Barbaresco is the name of a village in Langhe in the Piedmont. At some time it must have had a population of people from away, barbarians, who have long since happily mixed themselves into the Italian gene pool. Barbaresco is famous for wines made with the nebbiolo grape (the little foggy one) and the 2007 Serra Paitin is a striking example.
Nebbiolo can make an austere, long-lived wine, dark with tannins and a natural forest bitterness — the Wotan of wines, second only to its even sterner neighbor Barolo. These are great wines, especially with meat, but they are costly and a bit serious. Best to bring them out for your father.
The Serra Paitin is lighter and more easily approached. It is ready to drink now — perhaps it will get better in a few years but who can wait these days. The nose is light with a little wood smoke; the taste is balanced, drying — those tannins — and brightly autumnal. But the wine moves; it is mercurial and with a high level of acid, it is a fine match for roast lamb on the Paschal weekend.