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10.14.2004

NV Azienda Ag. Malvira "Birbet" Brachetto, Roero (Piemonte), Italy

Sparkling red wine? Sacre Bleu! Or in this case I guess you'd say Mizzica! or some other Italian equivalent. Yes, this really is a sparkling red wine and quite an interesting one at that. It's made by a small producer in Piemonte, Azienda Agricola Malvira. I love the name of the winery, which literally translates to "Situated Wrong," because the winery's original courtyard faced North instead of to the South as popular wisdom dictated it should. Even though the winery is in its new location along the banks of the Tanaro river in the small village of Canova, the name has stuck.

Malvira has been making wine in the region for nearly 20 years and is run by two brothers, Roberto and Massimo Damonte. Robert does the winemakeing and Massimo manages the vineyards. While they have made wine under the Malvira name for 20 years, their family has a long history of winemaking and grapegrowing -- the Brachetto grapes for this wine come from a vineyard that has been in the family for over 200 years. The winery normally produces the typical Roero wines that are characteristic of this relatively new (1985) DOC appellation -- dark Niebbolo based wines with the addition of the local varietal Arneis.

This wine, then, seems to be a fun diversion for the brothers. Made from Brachetto, known locally as Brachetto d'Acqui (literally "from here") it is actually not that unusual for the region which has a history of making red sparkling wines from this varietal which is purported to be descended from Moscato.

This wine is not labeled with any vintage year (hence the lack of a year above). I do not know what this means, but there you have it. No year on the bottle. I also don't know much about the winemaking, and frankly it probably wouldn't be all that interesting -- this is a wine that abolishes wine snobbery and demands very little. Pull some out and watch the die-hards run for the hills. Anyone left has got enough sense of humor to be worth drinking with. Approximately 1700 cases produced.

Tasting Notes:
In the glass this wine is lightly carbonated with medium sized bubbles amidst a light blood-red body tinged with brown at the rim. The bouquet of the wine is filled with aromas of tart blackberry pie, raisins, and dried strawberries. In the mouth it is effervescent, and my notes say "holy electric blackberries" with additional flavors of baked apple pie.

Food Pairing:
The only thing I could possibly think to pair with this would be something chocolate, but really I think this is best drunk as an aperitif or an after dinner drink for those, like me, who may find Cognac and Sherry distasteful.

Overall Score: 8

How Much?: $18

This wine can be tracked down through your local retailer that typically carries a lot of Italian wines, but admittedly it may be difficult to get.

Comments (20)

chrisw wrote:
10.15.04 at 1:44 PM

There is a michigan producer that also makes a red champaign. l. Mawby, the champaign is called Redd.

http://www.lmawby.com/buy/winesdetail.asp?id=6

i have visited many times and all the different wines are wonderful.

Kieca wrote:
10.15.04 at 2:39 PM

I've enjoyed a few bottles of the 1999 Cascina Gilli Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco, which is a really nice sparkling red (not syrupy-honey sweet, more flowery sweet). Your post reminded me of it (you used to be able to get it at Weimax and I randomly found one at PlumpJack in Noe Valley one night) although your wine sounds a little heavier and sweeter. If you see a bottle of the former, check it out, it's under 15 bucks and perfect for hot weather (I know, we are heading into winter, technically, but still).

(Although right now, dessert-wine-wise, I think my heart belongs to the 2001 Chateau de Suronde Quarts de Chaume because it has a finish like an old library card.)

tiffany wrote:
02.11.05 at 7:18 AM

Banfi's Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui is another Italian sparkling red. It's one of my favorites.

Peter wrote:
08.08.05 at 2:44 PM

Had Brachetto Birbet, 2003, Ca' Rossa with bay leaf and vanilla panna cotta with wild currants at Encanto in SF. Excellent pairing.

Alder wrote:
08.08.05 at 7:56 PM

Peter,

Thanks for the comment. That does indeed sound like a good pairing!

Kelvin Yew wrote:
03.24.06 at 7:19 PM

This... is a difficult wine to get a hold of. The last case I had was urchased when I lived in Los Angeles in 1999. The winery would not ship to Singapore (where I now reside) either.

Jenn wrote:
05.02.06 at 5:07 PM

I tried Brachetto a couple times in Rome recently and loved it. One in particular also from Piemonte region is by Castello del Poggio. Great vino spumante dolce!!! Was sipping it one evening at a restaurant in Piazza Navona.

Tracy Stein wrote:
05.19.06 at 8:03 PM

I know next to nothing about wines and was fortunate enough to have been guided by Jack the wine guy at a Trader Joes. We bought a few bottles and we're longing for more and regretting we hadn't purchased more. We found the absolute best thing to eat with this delight is popcorn. It's smooth and buttery with a hint of sweet making popcorn a natural!

Alder wrote:
05.19.06 at 8:21 PM

Tracy,

I never would have guessed that this was a good pairing with popcorn! Go figure. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Andrea wrote:
05.26.06 at 12:53 AM

Indeed this is a tricky little bottle of wine to find. I first enjoyed a glass in a Rochester , NY fine Italian restaurant. The restaurant told me where they had purchased it-I went and purchased the last two half bottles there. I live in central Florida now and the search continues. The Rosa Regale is a good stand in but the Malvira still stands out.

Ginger wrote:
10.13.06 at 2:30 PM

I love Malvira Birbet, I had purchased it at the Epcot Wine and Food Festival. Actually I had bought 6 bottles of it. I haven't been able to find it since. However, Epcot is currently hosting their wine festival until Nov.2 and the Birbet is there once again!

Audrey wrote:
10.24.06 at 8:40 PM

I was introduced to sparkling reds in Paris during Christmas-time. Wonderful to serve dry sparkling reds with holiday food as it is festive, and can stand up to turkey and trimmings...

JoAnn wrote:
01.24.07 at 9:36 PM

Brachetto d'Aqcui makes a great pairing with chocolate covered strawberries! Think Valentine's Day!

Jennifer wrote:
02.26.07 at 9:59 AM

I had this yummy wine on Valentine's Day at The Melting Pot in Minneapolis. They served it with the chocolate fondue course consisting of a raspberry liqueur-infused white chocolate fondue with strawberries, raspberries, brownies, and cheesecake. I am not a red wine fan, but I love champagne and this was delightful with dessert!

Cherish wrote:
07.02.07 at 4:36 PM

I too had this at the Melting Pot in Minneapolis. I've been driving myself crazy trying to find some to keep at home - anyone willing to share their secret sources? I'm in Minnesota and am willing to order online if there isn't any available nearby. Thanks!

Stacy wrote:
09.07.07 at 5:48 PM

After trying this at the Melting Pot, I called the Melting Pot and they told me I could get it at Sam's on Washington Ave. in Minneapolis. I stopped by Sam's one day and they were out, but were expecting another shipment soon.

Irwin wrote:
08.25.08 at 11:06 AM

I am new to this blog, but found the Birbet entry by googling it. Had it last night as an apertif while entertaining my cousin from Liguria. She thought it was splendid, as did we all. Now, the see if I can find more in the Boston/Providence area.

Ciao.

EricMatthew wrote:
01.20.10 at 4:47 PM

I just picked up a bottle of the Malvira "Birbet" form Pastoral wine and cheese in Chicago, We paired it with a heavy chocalate mousse that I found really delightful, even considering my dislike for sweeter red wines. I sort of equated it to a cute entertaining street show... it made me stop and watch, brought a smile to my face, and lingered in my mind until the next block. After crossing the street its but a distant memory!

Jan wrote:
03.03.10 at 9:32 AM

The Malvira Birbet is wonderful! It is light, refreshing and goes beautifully with fruit or a sweet treat. I just discovered it and already have a case tucked away in the basement -- although I don't expect it to stay hidden for long! This would make a wonderful wedding wine. Sadly for those of you out of town, my supplier does not ship.

mikeshrews wrote:
12.09.10 at 12:05 PM

I had this wine in Chicago. I went crazy trying to get it in Michigan. Esprit du Monde has it. If the web site said it can't ship to your state, call and David will arrainge it to ship to you. Here is their web site www.edmwines.com

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