Category Archives: Produttori del Barbaresco

Old Vintages of Italian Wine and Pizza

Roberto Caporuscio, one of the best pizzaioli in New York and owner of Keste and several other restaurants, is now creating his pizzas with a new type of flour that he says yields better results.  He invited me and a group of friends who enjoy older Italian wines to come to his Keste Wall Street location for a tasting. A full report on the pizza will appear in another blog.
The notes on the wines were written by Jason De Salvo and I added a few notes of my own. I have a great respect for Jason’s palate and his attention to detail.
The wines
1971 Verrazzano Chianti Classico
4/11/18 — 90 points.  Now-2022.   Slightly cloudy brick-ruby color.  The nose is mocha-infused red cherry fruit, black raspberries, dried meat, potpourri, earth and underbrush.  On the palate this has vibrant acidity, a bit of a hole in the mid-palate and a relatively short finish.  That said, it’s a lovely drink!  Charles: Sangiovese can age as well as Nebbiolo as this wine proves.
1974 Produttori del Barbaresco
4/11/18 — 92 points.  Now-2027.   Medium ruby-garnet color, slightly cloudy.  The nose is candied black cherries, fennel blossoms, honey, smoked game and subtle notes of tar.  On the palate this is lovely.  Elegant, refined dusty tannins and a medium-long finish. Charles: This was my second favorite wine. Produttori del Barbaresco can age. Barbaresco can age as well as or even better than Barolo.
1974 Borgogno Barolo Riserva
4/11/18 — NR.  Drink Now.  Cloudy brick-ruby color.  The nose is stewed cherries, celery, wet leaves and tobacco.  On the palate this has sweet, stewed fruit notes and is clearly either past its
prime or a slightly off bottle.  Medium body.  The wine did work well with the pizza nonetheless.
Charles: We tasted the 1974  Barolo and 1974  Barbaresco side by side- it was no contest.
1947 Franco Fiorina Barbaresco
4/11/18 — NR.  Drink Now.    Slightly cloudy amber-golden color with just a faint hint of ruby.  The nose is like a hypothetical blend of a 30-40 year old Tawny Port and a Fino Sherry with oxidative notes of caramel, stewed cherries and licorice.  On the palate there remains a sweetness from what was obviously a hot, tremendously concentrated vintage, but alas, this wine bottle is solidly into its twilight. 
1998 Borgogno Barolo Riserva
4/11/18 — 92+ points.  Now-2040.   Medium ruby color.  The nose here is soaring with black cherries, minerals, licorice, rose blossom and cured meat.  On the palate this is vibrant, medium-full bodied with a complex, tactile finish. 
1979 Giovannin Moresco Barbaresco Poderi de Pajoré 
4/11/18 — 93 points.  Now-2030.    Medium ruby color.  The nose here is stunning with soaring notes of black cherries, black raspberries, crushed dried roses, freshly chopped garden herbs and baking spices.  On the palate this is supremely elegant and well integrated.  Gorgeous balance and a medium-long finished buttressed by refined, dusty tannins.
Charles:  for me this was the wine of the afternoon and it may be my favorite Barbaresco. It is made from the “Rose” subvariety of Nebbiolo. Unfortunately this was the last vintage and the vineyard was sold to Angelo Gaja.
1979 Cavallotto Riserva Vigna Colle Sud-Ovest
4/11/18 — 94+ points. Now-2028.    Medium brick-ruby color with a slightly watery rim.  The nose here is black cherries, black licorice, tobacco, a lovely stemmy note, coffee grinds, underbrush and smoked game.  On the palate this is velvety, nuanced and deep.  This is the best example of this wine I have had thus far. Charles: Jason liked this wine more than I  did.   I like their wines a lot but to me this bottle was not showing that well.
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Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Borgogno, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Italian Red Wine, Produttori del Barbaresco

Vertical of Produttori del Barbaresco from 1962 to 1989

Produttori del Barbaresco has always been one of my favorite produces of Barbaresco. Their wines can last for 50 years or more even in mediocre vintages.  Ernie De Salvo, a good friend and fellow wine lover, suggested that we invite some friends and do a tasting and lunch with these wines. There were 8 of us and we gathered at Il Gattopardo restaurant in NYC a few weeks ago.

The vertical tasting consisted of 8 wines in vintages from 1962 to 1989. They were all in good condition except for the 1970 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello, which was corked.

Background

Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. It has roots going back to 1894 when there were 19 members, but the co-op as we now know it dates from 1958.  Today there are 52 members. Over the years, a few members have left the co-op to go out on their own.

Produttori has 100 hectares of Nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Appellation, 1/6 of the area. Each grower makes his own decisions as far as growing the grapes is concerned.

Produttori del Barbaresco only produces wine from the Nebbiolo grape, Barbaresco DOCG, a blend of grapes from different vineyards, and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.

In great vintages, nine single vineyard Barbaresco’s are produced within the boundaries of the village of Barbaresco: Asilli, Rabaja, Pora, Montestefano, Orvello, Pagé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo.  The co-op takes great pride in these wines and the name of the single vineyard.  The total number of bottles produced and the name of the owners of the vineyard are on the label.

The 1996 Ovello Riserva, for example, has on the label the name of the single vineyard, the number of bottles produced (18,145) and the names of the vineyard owners: Cravanzola, Gonella, Maffei, Vacca, Varaldo.

In his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Wasserman states in the section on Barbaresco,  “There are a few producers making Barbaresco in the same class as the wines of Produttori, but none who surpass them.”  In the years since this was written I have drunk many bottles of Produttori and it is as true now as it was then.

All of these single vineyards basically have the same soil, calcareous limestone with sandy veins. The only difference is in the exposure. The grapes are hand harvested. They are also vinified in the same way. Traditional fermentation takes place with 18 to 20 days skin contact and aged for 36 months in oak barrels of 25 to 50 HL and 8 months in bottle before release. All of the single vineyards are reserve wines.

The regular Barbaresco is aged for two years in large oak barrels.

For the last number of years the winery has been run by Aldo Vacca the managing director.

The wines

Jason De Salvo took the notes on the wines that follow. I have great respect for his palate and his great attention to detail.

1962 Barbaresco Riserva

12/11/17 — 89 points.  Light brick-garnet color.  The nose is candied cherries, leaves, leather, tobacco and dried roses.  On the palate this is supremely elegant and still holding together.  It is amazing that this is still as alive as it is, given what I have heard about the 1962 vintage!

1967 Barbaresco Riserva Speciale Rabaya

12/11/17 — 97+ points. Light-medium ruby-brick color.  The nose here is absolutely gorgeous with haunting notes of smoke, black cherries, wild flowers, balsamic-pine notes, fennel flowers and dried game.  On the palate this is f*&%ing stunning with great grip, incredible balance, loads of flavor nuance and a long finish.

1967 Barbaresco Riserva Paijé (Cavaliere del Tartufo bottling)

12/11/17 — 98 points. Deep ruby color, nearly opaque.  The nose here is extraordinary with deep black cherry fruit, loads of dusty minerals, lilies, potpourri, pomegranates and dried roses.  On the palate this is deep, intensely flavored and positively youthful.  Unreal juice.  Absolutely stunning and still going strong nearly two hours after it was opened and poured.  This was the wine of the day for Jason .

1978 Barbaresco

12/11/17 —  95 points.  Deep ruby-brick color.  Powerful umami notes on the nose with soy, black cherries, smoked game, black raspberries, flowers, pink lilies.  In the mouth this is gorgeous with a grippe palate presence, beautiful balance and loads of dusty tannins leading to a long finish.  A touch less complex than the two 1967 crus that preceded it, but otherwise virtually at the same level!  Wow.

1979 Barbaresco

12/11/17 — 94 points.  Medium-deep brick-ruby color.  From a cooler vintage than the 1978 served alongside it.  Aromatically this is actually more complex than the 1978 with just a stunning nose of dried game, black raspberries, sour cherries, smoke, leather and dried flowers.  On the palate this is a tad more acidic, less opulent and lighter than than the 1978.  I prefer the ’78 in the mouth and the nose of the ’79.

1978 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja’

12/11/17 — 96 points. Deep ruby color.  The nose here is black licorice, a distinct note of celery, leather, black cherries, earth, forest floor and dried porcini mushrooms.  On the palate this is the most structured, deepest and intense wine of the tasting thus far.  Massive quantities of ripe, dried black cherry fruit in the mouth with plush mid-palate and a long, structured finished buttressed by a good dose of classy, ripe tannins.

1989 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello

12/11/17 – 97 points).  Medium-deep ruby color.  Beautiful nose with gorgeous, soaring aromatics of red plums, black raspberries, minerals, dried roses, saddle leather and red cherries.  On the palate this is gorgeously elegant with a wonderful nervosité, excellent mouth-puckering acidity and a gorgeously long, dusty tannic finish.  Wow.  This wine is right in its sweet spot right now and is really singing.

The best way to understand these wines is with food. Here are some of the dishes prepared by chef Vito Gnazzo of Gattopardo to go with the wines.

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving menu was an unorthodox one this year, but we started as always with Champagne.IMG_6593

Champagne Delamotte Brut NV made from 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Nero and 20% Pinot Meunier. The wine is light and fresh with citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. The sister house is Salon and both are part of the Laurent-Perrier group. At about $38 a bottle, it is a bargain and is our current house champagne.IMG_6594

Blanc de Blancs Brut “Amour de Deutz” Millesime 2002 William Deutz made from 100% Chardonnay from their own Grand Cru villages of Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in magnum. This is one of the most complex and elegant champagnes that I have ever tasted. It comes in a clear bottle and 2002 was an excellent vintage. With the Champagne we had olives, cheese wafers, and pears wrapped in prosciutto.IMG_6596

Auxey-Duresses 2001 Lalou Bize-Leroy made from 100% Chardonnay. Biodynamic farming is practiced. A careful selection of hand picked grapes is brought to the cave in small baskets in refrigerated trucks. The grapes are carefully sorted on two large sorting tables (not moving conveyor belts). Only the best grapes are chosen. Fermentation is in large wooden oak barrels without any de-stemming or crushing to avoid any oxidation and to preserve the native yeasts, which are present on the skins of the grapes. Pigeage–crushing down the cap–and remontage–removing the fermented juices from under the cap and bringing it on top of the cap–takes place followed by slow fermentation and a long maceration. After pressing the wine goes down to the first underground cellar. It stays here until the end of malolactic fermentation. After pouring the juice off the lees–soutirage a la sapine--no pumps are used only gravity. The wine then goes down to a second, deeper cellar. It stays there until it is bottled. This wine was showing very well with good citrus aromas and flavors.IMG_6590

We go to restaurant SD26 often and really like their signature dish, Uovo in Raviolo, a large raviolo filled with ricotta and a soft cooked egg yolk, topped with truffle butter. Michele said she would like to do this dish for our guests on Thanksgiving. She made the pasta for the ravioli by hand, IMG_2731and instead of truffle butter she used Kerrygold butter, a favorite brand. I bought a beautiful fresh white truffle to shave on top.  The warmth of the raviolo and hot butter brought out all the aroma and flavor of the white truffle IMG_6597

Dolcetto D’Alba “Boschi di Berri” 1988 Poderi Marcarini made from 100% Dolcetto from pre-phylloxera vines. The vineyard is over 100 years old and because the soil is sandy and the particular microclimate of the vineyard, the vines are phylloxera free. They are not spliced onto American rootstock but are native vines. The vineyard is 0.5 hectares; there are 4,400 vines per hectare. The training system is free-standing espalier with guyot pruning and the exposure is west. The vineyard was planted in the late 1800’s. This was an exceptional wine, showing no sign of age. It had hints of cherries, raspberries, currants and a touch of leather. It was unlike any Dolcetto that I have tasted before. If this was the traditional Dolcetto from the last century, we are missing a lot today!IMG_2737_2

The main course was a bone-in pork rib roast with cranberry fig mostarda, a recipe from Michele’s latest book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. With that we had roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts baked with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.IMG_6598

Barbaresco Riserva “Ovello” 1979 made from 100% Nebbiolo Produttori del Barbaresco.  Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. It has roots going back to 1894 when there were 19 members, but the co-op as we now know it dates from1958.  Today there are 56 members. Over the years, a few members have left the co-op to go out on their own.

Produttori has 100 hectares of Nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Appellation, 1/6 of the area. Each grower makes his own decisions as far as growing the grapes is concerned. Produttori del Barbaresco only produces wine from the Nebbiolo grape — Barbaresco DOCG, a blend of grapes from different vineyards, and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.

In great vintages, nine single vineyard Barbarescos are produced within the boundaries of the village of Barbaresco: Asilli, Rabaja, Pora, Montestefano, Orvello, Pagé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo.  The co-op takes great pride in these wines and the name of the single vineyard, the total number of bottles produced, and the name of the owners of the vineyard are on the label.

The Orvello vineyard covers an area of 16.25 acres at 290 meters with a south/southeastern exposure. The 1979 was aged in large barrels of Slavonic oak for four years. This is traditional classic Barbaresco at its best. I have been drinking these wines for over 35 years.IMG_6600

Barolo Riserva 1971 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo.

We finished the red wine with the cheese course.IMG_6603

Fiano Passito “Privilegio 2011 Irpinia DOC Feudi di San Gregorio made from Fiano and Falangina grapes, harvested by hand, late harvest with a touch of Botrytis (noble rot) in mid October. The vines are 15 to 20 years old, there are 4,000 to 4,500 vines per hectare and the vineyards are at 1,000 to 1,500 ft. The grapes are then dried on straw mats for several months. After a soft pressing, the clarified must is fermented in new French Troncais oak barrels. The wine has hints of honey, figs, apricot and pear and was a perfect combination with the pumpkin pie and apple crisp we had for desert.IMG_6592

After the cafè we toasted the holiday and our guests with Romano Levi Grappa.

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Tasting the Single Vineyard Wines of Produttori Del Barbaresco

When a few members of my wine group were closed out of a tasting of the 1978 Barbaresco crus from Produttori del Barbaresco, we decided to organize our own.

Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. It has roots going back to 1894 when there were 19 members, but the co-op as we now know it dates from1958.  Today there are 56 members. Over the years, a few members have left the co-op to go out on their own.

Produttori has 100 hectares of Nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Appellation, 1/6 of the area. Each grower makes his own decisions as far as growing the grapes is concerned.

Produttori del Barbaresco only produce wine from the Nebbiolo grape, Barbaresco DOCG, a blend of grapes from different vineyards, and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC

In great vintages, nine single vineyard Barbaresco’s are produced within the boundaries of the village of Barbaresco: Asilli, Rabaja, Pora, Montestefano, Orvello, Pagé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo.  The co-op takes great pride in these wines and the name of the single vineyard, the total number of bottles produced, and the name of the owners of the vineyard are on the label.

The 1996 Ovello Riserva, for example has on the label the name of the single vineyard, the number of bottles produced (18,145) and the names of the vineyard owners: Cravanzola, Gonella, Maffei, Vacca, Varaldo.

In his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Wasserman states in the section on Barbaresco,  “There are a few producers making Barbaresco in the same class as the wines of Produttori, but none who surpass them.”  In the years since this was written I have drunk many bottles of Produttori and it is as true now as it was then.

All of these single vineyards basically have the same soil, calcareous limestone with sandy veins. The only difference is in the exposure. The grapes are hand harvested. They are also vinified in the same way. Traditional fermentation takes place with 18 to 20 days skin contact and aged for 36 months in oak barrels of 25 to 50 HL and 8 months in barrel before release. All of the single vineyards are reserve wines.

The Crus of Produttori del Barbaresco

Montefico 1979– the vineyard is 8.4 acres and it is at 250 meters with a southern exposure. The first vintage was in 1986 and today there are about 6,000 bottles produced. This was the wine of the afternoon. It was ready to drink with all the flavors and aromas of a classic Barbaresco.

Montefico 1978 – it seemed to have more body and structure than the 79, and seemed to need more time.

Ovello 1978 – The vineyard covers an area of 16.25 acres at 290 meters with a south/southeastern exposure. The first vintage was 1970 and there are about 18,000 bottles produced today.  Since the 1996 vintage, Ovello has become my favorite. 

Rabaja 1978 -The vineyard covers an area of 11.5 acres with a southwest exposure at 320 meters. The first vintage was 1967 and there are about 14,000 bottles produces today. This was a complex well-structured wine with a great finish and aftertaste.

Rabaja 1970. Wassermandescribed this wine this way: “Rich bouquet, intense and full of fruit, has a nutlike aspect; velvety, elegant, heaps of fruit, very nice indeed and quite ready; some tannin and a lot of fruit; should last.”  Seems like he was covering all the bases here. He tasted the wine in 1980 and he was right about the last part- the wine did last!

The 1967 PORA

Pora 1967 The vines cover an area of 18 acres with a south/southwest exposure at 300 meters. The first vintage was 1967 and there are about 18,000 bottles produced today. This was in very good condition showing very little sign of age.

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