I tasted through a number of affordable Barberas and Dolcettos recently. Here are four under-$20 Barberas from the '05 and '06 vintages that I thought offered mighty good value for money. 2005 was an odd year, with a lot of rain, but early-ripening Dolcetto and Barbera fared better on the whole than Nebbiolo. 2006 was better—still some sporadic rain in September, but not so much that it wrecked the crop. Neither is a transcendent year, but good producers had enough to work with to make some very good wines.
2006 Prunotto Barbera d'Asti Fiulot ($15)
Graceful and bursting with lively berry fruit, this youthful Barbera is popped into stainless steel tanks for a mere four months before it's bottled; hence the name, fiulot, which means "young man" in the Piedmontese dialect. Or so they tell me.