Side-by-side: 2004, 2005, and 2006

Originally posted at Mc Duff’s Food and Wine Trail.

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.” 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 below.

    The 2006 vintage began with nice spring weather. The warm temperatures in the first half of May caused early flowering around May 25 (flowering usually occurs in early June for Nebbiolo). Temperatures lowered at the beginning of June but without adversely affecting the flowering and fruit set of the vines. These conditions led to an abundant harvest. July brought temperatures higher than average. But August saw milder and more pleasant weather with warm days alternated with cooler and more ventilated days. Unlike other regions in Italy, rainfall was scarce and as a result, the season was relatively dry, especially for vineyards with the best exposure, which were warmer and drier. The abundant amount of fruit made summer thinning all the more important in order to rebalance production and allow for good ripening.

    September arrived with healthy fruit with somewhat high sugar levels. But the development of the fruit and its aromas was however delayed, especially in the warmest vineyards with the best exposure. Two intense September rainstorms marked a break from otherwise summery conditions. The first happened around September 10 and this actually helped aromatic ripening to begin again and thus was helpful. The second rainfall arrived later, on September 25 and 26, when the fruit was already ripe. At that point, there was no point in waiting any more and as soon as the sun dried the fruit, we began to harvest on September 29 and we finished picking on October 7 after nine days of good weather that allowed us to harvest excellent, healthy fruit.

    2006 Barbaresco will be an excellent Barbaresco with natural alcoholic content higher than 13.5%, with intense color and good acidity. A good wine for aging, from another vintage in a string of good vintages including 2004 and 2005.

My advice: buy these wines, drink them, lay them down, live with them, pair them with food, save a glass of each and taste it the next day, open them on special occasions, revisit them, record your impressions, blog them… They never disappoint and their value simply cannot be beat.

—Jeremy Parzen

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Explore posts in the same categories: Aldo Vacca, Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco, vintage

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