Archive for the ‘2005’ category

2005 Cru tasting notes

December 21, 2010

Above: Dreams do come true… all of the Produttori del Barbaresco single-vineyard designated bottlings of 2005 Barbaresco, tasted in March at the winery with Aldo Vacca.

Over the years, I have had the great fortune to taste with winemaker Aldo Vacca of Produttori del Barbaresco on a number of different occasions and in a wide variety of contexts. Anyone who’s ever met Aldo knows that he’s a precise, meticulous man, who seems to transmit the wise and judicious frugality of his origins into the 21st-century with grace and elegance. After all, 38 growers and their families and employees depend on him each year to deliver the wines of this cooperative to market. Whenever you meet Aldo in the U.S. or Vinitaly, he always has four or five of the crus open to taste with is guests. But because I dropped in with the balance of the Barbera 7 on that wonderful late-winter day in March, he opened all nine of the single-vineyard designated bottlings of the 2005 Barbaresco. What follows are my notes, as brief as possible (I tasted them in the order of body, as recommended by Aldo).

Pora

In many ways, Pora could be considered the winery’s flagship wine (after the classic blended Barbaresco, of course). The vineyard was owned at one time by the winery’s founder, Domizio Cavazza, and it was among the first wines released as a single-vineyard designated wine in 1967 (the same year that Gaja and Vietti bottled their first single-vineyard wines). It lies in a central swath of famed vineyards of Barbaresco that include Faset, Asili, Martinenga, and Rabajà.

Rich tannin, balanced black and berry fruit, gorgeous nose.

Rio Sordo

The name Rio Sordo means literally the deaf river, in other words, the silent or underground river (remember my post Cry Me a Silent River about tasting with Giovanni Rizzolio?). The solitary Rio Sordo vineyard lies on the other side of a small valley from the Rabajà, Asili, Martinenga, and Pora swath.

Very mineral nose, savory, earthy notes, darker fruit, balanced tannin.

Asili

Many feel that Asili is the quintessence of Barbaresco and in many ways, would agree: perhaps more than another vineyard, it embodies that unique balance of power and grace, structure and elegance that defines Barbaresco. Some, like Bruno Giacosa, consider the greatest vineyard in the appellation.

Powerful tannin, more so than other expressions of the 05 Asili I’ve tasted, stunning wine, fruit has yet to emerge, but this will surely be one of the greatest expressions of the growing site for this vintage.

Pajè

This vineyard lies sandwiched in between the Pora, Faset, Asili, Martinenga, Rabajà (and Moccagatta) family to the south and the Secondine and Bricco crus to the north. Like the more famous expression of this vineyard bottled by the Roagna winery (whose estate overlooks the growing site), this vineyard can deliver tannic and powerful expressions of Nebbiolo (tending toward Secondine and Bricco, perhaps more than the southern neighbors).

At the time of tasting, this wine was surprisingly very bright and approachable. Of all the wines, it was the one I would have drunk most gladly that day. But I imagine it will be shutting down, based on my knowledge of the growing site. Need to revisit later.

Moccagatta

Lyle and I share a love for this vineyard, which sits at one of the highest points in Barbaresco, in the eastern section of the appellation. To the south it borders Rabajà and shares some of its savory, earthy power. It renders a very distinctive expression of Nebbiolo, thanks to its unique exposure.

Even, balanced tannin, chewy and juicy wine, earthy and rich in mouthfeel. One of my favs of the tasting, black and red berry fruit and mud.

Rabajà

The Rabajà vineyard has been the subject of much debate over the last few years because some of the rows have been reclassified as Asili, which lies to its western border. Historically, I’ve always found this vineyard to be slightly more powerful and with more tannic structure than Asili. The name Rabajà is believed to be a dialectal inflection of the surname Rabagliato (but its etymology is uncertain).

Bright, lip-smacking acidity, and gorgeous fruit despite the Herculean tannin in this wine, savory on the nose and in the mouth. Stunning wine.

Ovello

Ask Cory and he’ll tell you that Ovello is his favorite. It lies in the northern section of the appellation, on the west side, not far from the Tanaro. My personal experience with this vineyard is that it renders more balanced tannin and extremely delicious earthiness. The winery’s classic Barbaresco (which, for the record, is generally my favorite bottling for any given vintage), is sourced primarily from Ovello.

Very fresh, especially compared to the other crus, with judicious tannin, and great minerality and savory flavors. Drinking beautifully right now.

Montefico

Montefico is another vineyard, like Pora, that has played a historic role in the evolution of Produttori del Barbaresco and was once owned in part by the winery’s founder Domizio Cavazza. Like Montestefano, it renders one of them most powerful expressions of Nebbiolo bottled by the cooperative. In the series, ordered by weight and body, Aldo positioned it second-to-last for our tasting.

The tannin still prevails in this wine, definitely needs time for the fruit to emerge. The slightly warmer vintage may penalize this otherwise truly great wine in the very long term but it’s sure to get better with every passing year. I can’t wait to revisit it in another 5 years.

Montestefano

Located in the northeastern section of the appellation, Montestefano is the vineyard often described as the most “Baroloesque” of the Barbaresco crus. I take issue with such observations: while we were brought up to believe that Barolo is the more “important” of the two appellations, I find that ultimately Barbaresco is the appellation that inspires, intrigues, and bewitches more. It’s not a younger sibling to Barolo: if anything, it’s a cousin, related by blood, but raised by different parents. Together with Asili, Rabajà, and Pora, Montestefano is one of my favorites. It certainly produces one of the most long-lived expressions of the appellation and it is here that earthy, savory notes and black fruit combine in a sublime marriage. To me, tasting wine from this vineyard is like negotiating the tension created somewhere between grammatical and metrical rhythm in verse by Virgil or Petrarch. For the record, Beppe Colla bottled fruit from this vineyard as a single-vineyard wine in 1961, making it perhaps the first cru-designated wine in Barbaresco (although many point to the 1967 vintage as the birth of the cru system in Barbaresco).

Simply stunning wine, a humbling experience, too young to see where the fruit is going to go, but one of the greatest wines I’ve tasted from the 2005 vintage anywhere in Piedmont.

—Jeremy Parzen

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Produttori time

August 18, 2010

Both Tracie P and I had a tough week this week. Let me just put it this way, people: sometimes work is a bitch.

And so last night, when work was done, we decided to treat ourselves to an evening of dueling DJs (Tracie P took it over the top with MJ’s “Wanna Be Starting Something”), kitchen-dance-floor grooving, Polaroid self-portraits, and a bottle of 2005 Barbaresco by what is probably our favorite winery of all time in history: Produttori del Barbaresco.

The wine was bright, tannic but generously nimble in sharing its lip-smacking wild berry fruit and succulently muddy flavors. We paired with gruyère and crackers, we dedicated songs to each other, we danced around the dining room table, and we forgot all of the worries of our world. It was PRODUTTORI TIME.

Tracie P and I aren’t the only ones obsessed with Produttori del Barbaresco: one of the wine bloggers we enjoy and respect the most, Cory (and one of the funnest and nicest people to hang and taste with, above), wrote about Produttori del Barbaresco in his wrap-up to the 32 Days of Natural Wine, in a piece I highly recommend to you.

Like last year, Cory had to deal with plenty of משוגעת from folks who didn’t agree with this or that and other bullshit.* But, man, this dude deserves a medal. He’s the nicest sweetest and brightest guy and his hypertextual project, 31 32 Days of Natural Wine, represents a truly fascinating study in semiotics, not to mention an encyclopedia in fieri of natural wine around the world. Wine writing is by its very nature an affliction otherwise known as synaethesia — humankind’s overwhelming and at times unbearable urge to capture in words the literally ineffable, ephemeral, and ethereal experience of tasting wine. With his unique project, Cory has warped the boundaries of wine blogging in an exhilarantly meaningful way.

So, people, whether Puzelat or Produttori, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine on this hottest weekend of the year, squeeze your loved ones tight and remind them how much they mean to you, remember that first kiss and the way you felt when those lips touched yours, and remember that very first moment you tasted a wine that made your heart flutter…

—Jeremy Parzen

* Yiddish meshugas, Esp. in Jewish usage: madness, craziness; nonsense, foolishness; (as a count noun) a foolish idea; a foible, an idiosyncracy (Oxford English Dictionary, online edition).

2006: an important clarification from Aldo

August 18, 2010

From the “department of keeping the world safe for Italian wine”…

aldo vacca

Above: I tasted with winemaker Aldo Vacca at Produttori del Barbaresco in March 2010. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am one of the wineries hugest fans.

Reader Ken wrote me a private message recently, asking if I’d seen an email blast from a New York retailer in which the author claimed that there had been two bottlings of Produttori del Barbaresco classic Barbaresco 2006 — one made before the decision not to bottles the 06 crus (and thus not including the single-vineyard juice) and one made after the decision not to bottle the 06 crus (and thus containing the higher-quality single-vineyard juice).

“If there has, in fact, been a second release that now has included the single-vineyard grapes,” he asked plaintively, “how on earth can anyone distinguish the bottles?

“I’ve cut and pasted a recent e-mail from [a highly respected New York retailer] and highlighted the statement about a second release. I’ve collected a ton of the blended 05’s for cellaring and have only a couple of the blended 06s, which got initially reviewed (by fellow Cellar Trackers) as a ‘drink early.'”

The news, if you haven’t heard it: for the 2006 vintage the Produttori have decided not to bottle any of their single-vineyard Barbaresco Riservas. Aldo Vacca, manager of the Produttori, describes this [SEE THIS POST] as a business decision that was not based on the very high quality of the wines, but instead because there have been so many strong vintages in a row (basically 2004-2009) that they were concerned that there would be too much wine on the market. The wines were vinified and aged separately as per their normal practice; following an initial release of the 2006 Barbaresco (which was a terrific bottle at the time), all of the Riservas have now been blended together to produce just one wine.

Yesterday afternoon I wrote to Aldo, who promptly responded with the following message:

What happened is that we took the final decision not to produce the 2006 S[ingle]V[ineyard] one year later than usual, in the spring of 2009. At that point the first bottling of 2006 was already done so no SV in the first bottling. However this is the bottling that we release every year in Italy in the early Fall, so it is largely used for domestic market.

Second bottling was done in July and then a third bottling in the Fall. These two bottlings were a blend of SV juice and standard Barbaresco juice in very similar %. The wine you can buy in the States now is from the 2nd bottling and later this year will be from the 3rd, so very similar indeed.

So the bottom line is that there was indeed two bottlings, one without the crus and one with the crus (the former sold in Italy, the latter available in the U.S.). But if you’re buying the wine in the U.S., you’re getting wines that include the crus.

To this I would add that 2006 is not a forgettable vintage, as some of Ken’s Cellar Tracker buddies might insist. In fact, it was a good-to-great vintage (05 very-good-to-great, 07 FANTASTIC). IMHO 06 is best to drink 2011-2016 and beyond (but keep in mind that I’m a believer that these wines are to be drunk younger than most American fetishizers of old wine would tell you).

—Jeremy Parzen