Barbaresco 2010 was next on the line-up, more than 80 of them spread over two days, from the three municipalities that make up the zone: Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso. Regardless of their numerous stylistic differences, the wines fell into two basic groups: Some were dark, red-black, inky and opaque, with pronounced alcohol, an earthy aroma of dull, over-ripe fruit, and harsh tannins. The others were brick red with orange highlights and a nice shiny transparency, a subtle inviting aroma, and a mouthful of ripe cherry, strawberry and/or cranberry fruit framed by firm, supple, pleasantly astringent tannins. Wines that fell into the first group seemed heavy and prematurely old, those in the second young and promising.
Same grape variety, same appellation, same year but two totally different styles; I was a bit perplexed so asked a friend for some insight.
“Harvest began towards the end of September and finished in the first half of October,” said Gianni Testa, technical director at the Produttori del Barbaresco winery in Barbaresco. “In between, it rained steadily for about five days. People who harvested before the rain did well; people who held off in the hopes of getting a bit more ripeness did less well.” The grapes absorbed moisture and became diluted, which lowered the acidity and polyphenols. Some grapes developed hyperripe flavors while waiting for the rain to stop and things to dry out. “Sometimes it’s hard to know when to pick. We were lucky; we got most of our grapes in before the rain.”
According to Gianni, 2010 is not a great year but a good one, with soft tannins, fresh fruit and medium body, making for very pleasant and well-balanced wines to drink in the not too distant future. Produttori decided not to make any riservas in 2010 opting instead to enhance the basic Barbaresco with the superior fruit of their choice crus. “Barbaresco is not Bordeaux or Champagne,” he said. “We have one grape, nebbiolo, so we make different wines in different years; some vintages provide simpler fruitier wines that are best drunk fairly young while others provide big wines with structure and intensity that need long cellaring to develop their potential. One of the main challenges for the winemaker is knowing how to make a wine that best expresses what a particular vintage has to offer. Understanding this is one of the biggest challenges for the consumer too.”
His Produttori del Barbaresco 2010 Barbaresco falls in the young and promising category. It’s brick red with a pink-orange hue, nicely transparent. There’s an inviting aroma of fresh wild strawberries with a hint of fresh mint and peppermint stick. The wine opens gently on the palate, revealing a solid core of red cherry flavor with an invigorating touch of tart acidity. It’s focused by firm yet supple tannins, which gradually grow and dominate the finish: well-balanced and understated.
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