Barbaresco’s 2016 growing season began early, with a mild January and February followed by moderate temperatures that lingered into mid-October, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.The results were thrilling for our recent tasting panels, with wines that showed great freshness, soaring aromatics and impressive depth of flavor. (Check out the December 2019 issue for a full list of top-scoring wines, with tasting notes.)
Produttori del Barbaresco’s classic Barbaresco was one of the most exciting wines we tasted—especially given the price. Some may find it hard to believe that a cooperative winery could produce exciting wine, but Produttori is no ordinary coop. It was founded in 1958 by 51 grower families, who made a number of key decisions in those early years that set them apart from other coops: They would work exclusively with nebbiolo, giving up the chance to make faster cash by producing barbera or dolcetto; they required growers to deliver their entire nebbiolo crop to the coop, rather than allowing families to keep the best fruit for their own private production; and they would compensate growers based on the quality of the fruit, not the weight. Taken together, these decisions emphasized quality over quantity.
Produttori now includes 54 members, their collective holdings encompassing 250 vineyard acres, with enough land in prestigious sites to allow the winery to bottle up to nine single-cru wines. Yet, according to Aldo Vacca, Produttori’s director since 1991, priority always goes to the classic Barbaresco. That’s very good news for nebbiolo lovers, who will not find a better bargain in all of Barbaresco, especially in 2016. The wine’s red-fruit flavors are crunchy and fresh, lifted by scents of rose petals and violets, while the tannins are ripe and generous, enveloping the vibrant fruit like a soft leather glove. It’s a wine that can age, but I don’t know how anyone could resist it now (I certainly can’t, having polished off most of my first case already). Stock up as much as you can while waiting for Produttori’s single-cru 2016 Barbarescos which will be released in spring 2021. If the classic Barbaresco is any indication, those single-cru 2016s might just be legendary.
Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.
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