One of the things I love the most about Produttori del Barbaresco is how its winemaking practices have remained virtually unchanged since it began making Barbaresco in 1958 (technically the winery was launched as a Cantina Sociale in 1894). Few Italian winemakers can rival this iconic label for the terroir- and vintage-driven characteristics of the wines.
And as much as I love its single-vineyard expressions of Nebbiolo, my favorite is always the blended classic Barbaresco: on my palate, these are the truest expressions of Barbaresco and its unique power and elegance because they represent an overarching manifestation of the entire appellation, made from grapes grown by multiple growers across the territory. Each year, the best grapes from the best growing sites go into this wine. How do you determine where the best rows are? Simple: just observe where the snow melts first, they will tell you. 1967 and 1982 are two memorable vintages of the classic Barbaresco that I have tasted over the last few years (and I’ve tasted the crus going back to the late 70s): the wines of today are very true to the winery’s beautiful, natural terroir-driven style.
The 2004 is surely to be one of the great vintages of this decade and the winery compares it to the “mythic 1990,” as winemaker Aldo Vacca has written in his vintage notes [addendum: when I tasted with Aldo at Vinitaly, he agreed with me that 2004 is more similar to 1989 than to 1990; “I wrote that note,” he told me, “right after I bottled the wine and now looking back, I need to revise it.”] I’ve tasted it a number of times over the last year and it seems to be closing up right now and showing more tight than it was last summer. I believe it’s going through a tannic period of its development and as much of a joy as it is to drink it, I think it’s best to lay it down for a while. I want to revisit it again around Christmas and see where it’s at.
Although 2005 was a very good vintage and classic in its profile (part of a string a good vintages, 04, 05, and 06), unusually high temperatures in September made for a wine with fruit more forward than the 2004. Unfortunately, this more “American-friendly” vintage has driven up the price slightly. It showed wonderfully in the tasting the other day and while I don’t think it will age quite as long as the 2004, I think this is an excellent Barbaresco that we can enjoy sooner than later.
2006 was another classic vintage, although again warmer than the 2004. I was thrilled to taste the 2006 Langhe Nebbiolo (made from fruit not destined for the Barbaresco) and I think it’s an excellent value for the quality. I like to call it my “Saturday night wine” (the Barbaresco is a “special occasion” wine at my table).
I’ve translated the winery’s 2006 vintage notes here.