Behind the scenes at Produttori

August 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

A few months ago, I wrote a post about Produttori del Barbaresco, the great cooperative producer in the town of Barbaresco. I will also be including them in my upcoming book on the Top 100 wine producers in Italy.

During my recent visit this past May, I tasted the nine individual single vineyard wines from 2005. These wines, all from vineyards within the commune of Barbaresco, are produced in the finest vintages, and the 2005s follow the 2004s and precede the 2007s. There will be no single vineyard bottlings from 2006; the decision was made by the winery’s managing director, Aldo Vacca for two reasons. First, they have a number of vintages of the single vineyards that are now on the market or soon will be;  given the current state of the worldwide economy, he decided that there would be too many of these wines for sale. “If 2007 would have been a bad vintage,” he states, “we probably would have made the ’06s. But ’07 is fantastic.”

Vacca also mentions that while 2006 was a good (though not great) vintage, the differences in the individual vineyards were not as pronounced as in the finest years. Thus no single vineyards from 2006, but the good news is that the final blend of the normale Barbaresco 2006  (this is the second bottling of this wine that is available in the U.S. market) will contain a greater percentage of these nine vineyards. Each year this normale bottling is excellent – in 2006, the wine is truly singular. I’ve tasted it and love it, as it’s a beautifully balanced wine with plenty of spice. However, I actually prefer the soon to be released 2007 normale, which is a touch lighter on the palate, but has superb aromatics, excellent depth of fruit, lively acidity and amazing length in the finish. This is a wine of great finesse – a style that has been perfected here and a style I love!

Regarding the single vineyard wines, Aldo Vacca gave me an enormous amount of information about these wines. Much of this will be included in my writeup in my book. However, I will share a bit of this data in this post.

As for the 2005 vintage, Vacca mentioned that rains entered the area in late September, so the growers agreed to pick a bit early – according to his data, 95% of the entire Barbaresco region was harvested before the rains of October 2. For this reason, Vacca believes that “the quality of the 2005 Barbaresco is a little more consistent than Barolo.”

Vacca divided the tasting into three flights, starting with the lightest (Pora, Rio Sordo, Asili) to the more weighty wines (Pajé, Ovello, Moccagatta) to the most full-bodied with the highest degree of tannins (Rabaja, Montefico, Montestefano). I loved the Rio Sordo and thought it was one of the three best wines of the group; Vacca calls it “the most enjoyable now.. with lots of sweet fruit.”

As for the more full-bodied wines, Vacca noted he gets a little extra ripeness in the Rabaja in 2005. “If I had to pick two to drink now, it would be the Rio Sordo and the Rabaja.” He finds that the Ovello has more tannin that the Rabaja, but also more undeveloped fruit; “the Rabaja is much more round.” For the Montefico and Montestefano, Vacca labels the former as “sharp, with minerality – it’s beautiful,” while he labels the latter as being “the big boy in terms of body and tannins.”

I’ll include my notes on these nine wines as well the normale 2006 and 2007 in the fall issue of my Guide to Italian Wines to be pubilshed next month. For now, here are notes on my two favorite wines of the 2005 single vineyards:

2005 Produttori del Barbaresco “Rio Sordo” – Lovely young garnet; red cherry, strawberry and currant aromas with a hint of nutmeg. Medium-full with excellent concentration; sleek finish of great length, excellent persistence and pinpoint acidity. Best in 12-15 years. Outstanding.

2005 Produttori del Barbaresco “Montefico” – Bright young garnet; intriguing aromas of ripe strawberry, carnation and tobacco. Medium-full with excellent concentration; rich, firm tannins – bigger than most of the other wines – lively acidity and excellent persistence. Best in 15-20 years. Outstanding.

One final note on the wines – an important point about the style of these wines  – all of the wines are aged in large casks (botti grandi), which is the traditional way of making Barbaresco. What I love about this is not only the minimal influence of wood, which allows for impressive varietal purity, but also a respect for the local terroir. Each of these wines has a distinct sense of place and each tastes different, as befits a lineup of wines from nine separate vineyards.

It is important that wineries throughout Piedmont and all of Italy and in reality, the entire world keep this belief in mind. Too many wines these days taste the same as winemakers produce dark, brooding wines that are quite ripe with only moderate levels of acidity. We don’t need that, so thank goodness for the work of Aldo Vacca and others at the Produttori del Barbaresco for making this a winery that respects the individual as well as the land!

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