Had any good 03s lately?

Posted August 18, 2010 by Do Bianchi
Categories: 2003, Produttori del Barbaresco, vintage

Above: Tracie P tasting at Giuseppe Mascarello with winemaker and owner Mauro Mascarello, on a crisp winter day in February 2010. We were invited to taste there with Italy’s inestimable wine blogger and wine pundit Mr. Franco Ziliani.

However lost in translation, my post on Monday led to an earthly discussion of who bottled good expressions of the 2003 vintage in Italy and a metaphysical dialectic on whether or not one should drink 2003 at all, when stellar vintages like 1999, 2001, or 2005 are within hand’s reach.

Above: Perhaps an anomaly, perhaps the child of a superior growing site and excellence in winemaking, Mauro Mascarello’s 2003 Barolo Monprivato was no fluke.

Was 2003 a forgettable vintage in Italy? Questions of taste literally aside, the wine punditry on both sides of the Atlantic has spent a lot of energy and time talking about the 2003 vintage (in part because of the controversy it stirred).

Above: Only a handful of winemakers made their top wines in 2003, but, man, what wines they were! Like this 2003 Brunello di Montalcino Paganelli by Tenuta Il Poggione (Tracie P and I tasted it over dinner with winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci in February).

Of course, 2003 was a poor vintage because of the aggressive heat that year, almost across the board throughout Europe. But that also means that many winemakers, who didn’t make their flagship wines, used their top fruit for their other wines. As Gary put it so well, “I think that 2003 presents an interesting opportunity to pick up some amazing bargains at the peak of their drinkability, but one must be very picky, and try before buy.”

I’m certainly not stocking my cellar with 03s but over the last months (and even the last few days), I have had some great 03s: like the Oddero Barolo the other night, 03 Barbaresco by Produttori del Barbaresco, 03 Barolo Monprivato by G. Mascarello, 03 Brunello di Montalcino Paganelli by Il Poggione, and 03 Barbera del Monferrato Perlydia by Valpane (the last three are all “flagship” wines, btw). While not all of these are going to cellar as well as 99, 01, and 05 (and 04 IMHO), they are by no means wines I’d turn down if someone happened to open one in my presence. In fact, they are more approachable and drinkable (as Gary points out) than their more cellar-worthy counterparts.

Have you had any good 03s lately from Italy? Please share so that I don’t have to feel so alone… 😉

—Jeremy Parzen

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1989 Produttori del Barbaresco for Easter

Posted April 5, 2010 by Do Bianchi
Categories: Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco

produttori del barbaresco

Above: The 1989 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco was truly brilliant yesterday afternoon. We paired with roast leg of lamb and sat outside in the gorgeous weather. I visited the winery during my March trip to Piedmont and will post on my tasting there in the next few weeks.

Posting in a hurry this afternoon because slammed with work and getting ready for tonight’s Orange Wine dinner at Vino Vino, where I’ll be pouring and talking about some amazing wines. We posted the wines and the menu earlier today. (There are still a few spots open: the wines are great, chef Esteban is pulling all the stops, and in true Austinite fashion, the dinner will be followed by Gary Clark Jr.’s first performance at Vino Vino.)

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We shared our Easter feast with another couple, close friends of ours. I roasted a leg of lamb yesterday afternoon, seasoned with rosemary from our garden. My beautiful Tracie P made all the fixins. 🙂

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Tracie P had also dyed some Easter eggs. Our new home is so wonderful. Words just cannot say how much I love her…

—Do Bianchi

Produttori-Care: The Public Option

Posted April 5, 2010 by Do Bianchi
Categories: Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco

After 4 days of intensive Barbera tasting, winery visits and Grissini belly stuffings the Barbera 7 experiences a nebbiolo fairytale visiting the ancient villages of Barbaresco and Neive, tasting at the Gaja, Produttori del Barbaresco and Bruno Giacosa wineries.

For yours yours truly the highlight of the day was our visit to Produttori Del Barbaresco lying underneath the great Barbaresco tower. We were greeted by Aldo Vacca, President and winemaker.

Aldo Vacca in front of a huge cement aging vats, bottoms covered in beautiful tartrate residue

Produttori Del Barbaresco is a cooperative winemaking company founded by in 1958 by the Barbaresco village priest in an effort to help his flock still struggling in the wake of WWII. 19 growers pooled their grapes and began making wine in the church basement, located across the street from the current facility. The focus was and is exclusively on the Nebbiolo grape. It was and still is difficult for the small farmer to reach out to the greater world and make an impact in the market. This cooperative, one of the greatest in the world, solved this problem. Growers then, as they do today, bring their grapes to the winery where they sell the grapes and share in the profit from the growing fame and resources of the venture. Aldo, perhaps the greatest wine educator I have encountered, explained to us in detail how the cooperative works and maintains such a high level of quality.

A grower within the cooperative brings his grape to market at the point of peak ripeness in September/early october taking into account potentially damaging inclimate weather. The grapes are weighed and computer tested for several elements that determine the grape’s value, including sugar level and polyphenols. Unlike a place like Napa where high sugar levels are a problem, the opposite is the case in Barbaresco’s slower ripening climate, You want proof of climate change, just talk to a grower of Nebbiolo that has seen alcohol degrees rise steadily over the past 20 years. The value of the grape is determined by these measured levels and the monetary range is quite wide, from 3-5 Euros per pound. This reward system gives growers a great incentive to do right in the vineyards and produce the best fruit possible, which for a traditionally made wine is most of the battle.

The grapes are weighed and valued in the town square just 100 feet from the tower, then destemmed, crushed and pumped down into the basement of the facility where fermentation and aging takes place. The facility is a no-nonsense operation and technology is kept to an absolute minimum. No small oak barrels or “barrique” just stainless steel, huge cement vats and large Slovenian oak casks known as Botti. The trademarks of Produttori is their traditional winemaking technique that brilliantly display the differences between growing sites and vintage.

Chutes leading to subterranean vats

2009 Asili. Considered by many as the top Cru

There is a saying that goes to the effect: Angelo Gaja that made the world know Barbaresco but it was Produttori that made the world drink it. Barbaresco is not typically a very affordable bottle, but Produttori’s prices have always been astonishingly reasonable. Aldo’s answer to why this is the case was very clear and I should note was told with great respect to his industry peers, especially his former employer of 5 years, Mr. Gaja. Some winemakers can choose to hold back wines if they don’t sell during bad economic conditions. The lean running, profit sharing cooperative doesn’t have this luxury and needs steady funds to pay growers for the next harvest.
Great use of the Fast nickel, Slow dime concept.

Aldo along with his right hand man Luca led us to a modest tasting room with walls lined with arial photographs of all of the growing sites. What really caught my eye was the lineup of all 9 PDB Barbaresco crus from 2005 waiting to be tasted! I’ve had the crus before but never all at once.

Aldo tasted us through all nine while circling the room showing us how different exposures to sun, soil type and the adjacent Tanaro River create vastly different bottlings. My personal favorite was thePaje that was drinking beautifully already.

David Rosoff told me the other night at Mozza that Aldo Vacca taught him more about Barbaresco in 20 minutes than he had learned in his entire life. For David, thats probably a bit of an exaggeration but in my case is was too true.

—Jaynes Gastropub

Too early for 2004 Pora? The answer was yes.

Posted December 27, 2009 by Do Bianchi
Categories: 2004, Nebbiolo, Pora, Produttori del Barbaresco, vintage

Above: Did I mention the girl can cook? Tracie B made chicken and dumplings last night for the whole B family. Photo by Rev. B.

In Emilia-Romagna they eat tortellini and cappelletti in brodo (filled pasta in capon broth). In Central Europe they eat knödel served in broth. At the Jewish deli, they serve kreplach in broth. And in the South, they make chicken and dumplings.

Above: Tracie B’s chicken and dumplings. I can only wonder what Dr. V’s user-generated content would have to say about this most impossible impossible wine pairings — chicken and dumplings. But, man, were they good! This and below photos by Tracie B.

By its very nature, broth is an inevitably impossible wine pairing: the temperature alone makes pairing like grabbing the moon with your teeth as the French say.

Heeding the adage by restaurateur giant Danny Meyer, if it grows with it, it goes with it, I should have paired Tracie B’s delectable dumplings with Lambrusco (my top pick would have been a Lambrusco di Sorbara). In Emilia, versatile Lambrusco is served throughout the meal, with the appetizer of affettati (sliced charcuterie), with the first course of tortellini in brodo, with the second course of bollito (boiled meats and sausage), and even with the dessert of Parmgiano Reggiano served in crumbly shards, perhaps topped with a drop of aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena or di Reggio Emilia (none of that hokey, watery aromatic vinegar). Lambrusco would have been perfect here.

Above: Don’t try this at home. Frankly, the 2004 Barbaresco Pora by Produttori del Barbaresco is going through a nearly undrinkable stage in its evolution.

But as food writer Arthur Schwartz says of pizza, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one your with.

Before heading to Orange for the Christmas holiday celebration with the B family, I had reached into our cellar and pulled out a bottle of 2004 Barbaresco Pora by Produttori del Barbaresco. Frankly, the wine was too tight, overwhelmingly tannic, and even though it opened up over the course of the evening, it’s going through a nearly undrinkable period in its evolution. But that’s part of my love affair with this winery: experiencing the wine and the different single-vineyard expressions at different points in its life. And there are more bottles of 04 Pora to be had in our cellar. We ended up lingering over wine, sipping it is a meditative wine as we retired to the living room and watched a movie together and munched on oatmeal cookies that Tracie B and Mrs. B had baked that afternoon.

Above: Nephew Tobey wasn’t concerned with wine pairing. But he sure loved him some chicken and dumplings!

Happy Sunday ya’ll and thanks for reading!

—Do Bianchi

Our first meal in our apartment

Posted July 15, 2009 by Do Bianchi
Categories: Nebbiolo, pairings, Produttori del Barbaresco

Tags: ,

greg_wawro

DC is interesting. We’re pretty much settled now, and enjoying domestic bliss. Here’s a picture of our first meal in our apartment here.

—Greg Wawro

I love Pizza Antica

Posted July 15, 2009 by Do Bianchi
Categories: Nebbiolo, pairings, Produttori del Barbaresco

Tags: , ,

elton_slone

Produttori 05 for 20 bucks baby. I love Pizza Antica!

—Elton Slone

Direct connection between farmer and cantina

Posted June 7, 2009 by Do Bianchi
Categories: Produttori del Barbaresco

I like these pictures because they show the direct connection between farmer and cantina.

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—Christopher Gelber