Carica L’Asino, also known as Barbassese in Italian, and Barbassis or Barbasse (in tPiedmontese dialect), is a native Italian white wine grape. Its name translates as “load up the donkey”. This derives either from its generous and regular yields; or that the only way to harvest and carry grapes (steep slopes and tightly spaced rows of its vineyards) was by donkeys, since neither carts nor wagons would fit.

Where grown | Piemonte: Monovarietal Carica L’asino wines exist, albeit rarely, as the variety is usually blended with Cortese, Timorasso, or Favorita.

Viticulture | Carica L’Asino has medium large, pyramidal-conical bunches and medium-large, round berries. It appears to be sensitive to spring frosts and to oidium (powdery mildew). In the past, its large sweet berries made this variety a much sought-after table grape.

Wine style | Mineral and fresh. Dried herbs, salty pear, apricot flavours.

Bibliography

See Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.164-5