Produttori del Barbaresco has often been called the greatest value in age-worthy wine. For the longest time, there was no contest to this statement. However, today the wines continue to go up in price and rarity. That said, Produttori Riservas remain great values, but the days of being able to buy deeply and widely are gone. Now the wines of Produttori are highly allocated, more like a rare Burgundy than Barbaresco, and if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss them.
Then there’s the question of vintage, of what is the deciding factor as to why Produttori will make Riservas in one year and not in another. For the longest time, collectors (myself included) thought this was decided by the vintage being one that would benefit from extended aging, yet today we find ourselves tasting the forward 2011s. In reality, the Produttori is more concerned with creating a complete and balanced wine, with the Normale (sometimes called Le Torre) being their priority. Still, in 2011 we are faced with a set of Riservas unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Aldo Vacca, the Produttori’s managing director for over 25 years, says that 2011 reminds him of the 1990 vintage, which is an interesting comparison, mainly because most collectors thought the 1990s wouldn’t mature well—but, in fact, they did. That said, it’s hard to ignore that the majority of 2011 Riservas that I’ve tasted are so enjoyable today, and it’s hard to imagine waiting. Their primary fruit is utterly gorgeous and with enough grip and balance to remind you that this is a wine made from Nebbiolo.
For those of you who want to put a wine away in this vintage, my pick would be Montestefano in a heartbeat. This is from one of the Produttoir’s most northerly vineyards, with cold winds coming down from the north. This influence was exactly what was necessary to combat the warmth of the vintage. It may be the most complete wine of the bunch. Having said that, there’s no denying the alluring and dark, yet slightly bitter richness of Rabaja. It may be to best young Rabaja I’ve ever tasted, but the question of how it will age is one that I’m afraid to broach. And then there’s Asili, the elegant beauty. I could go on and on, as there’s something to love about each of these wines.
As for the value of Produttori, I firmly believe they are well worth the hunt. In a classic vintage the Produttori is a sure bet for long-term cellaring and with a track record of great drinking for decades. As for a warm vintage, like 2011, they are so easy to like that it’s almost scary, and if Aldo Vacca is right about his comparison to 1990–then you will want to have these in the cellar. That said, if prices continue to rise, is there really any value in a very good-great Barbaresco, or will Produttori become lost in the shuffle? Only time will tell. And be warned, you have to keep your eyes open for these at retail, as the best wines are usually gone in a heartbeat.
On to the tasting notes: (In the order they were tasted)
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Pora Riserva 2011 – The nose showed remarkably pretty floral tones followed by brilliant cherry fruit, herbs, and hints of minerals. On the palate, intense red fruits flooded the senses with a mix of cherry, strawberry, and cranberry. Soft textures gave way to hints of spice and sweet herbs in a very giving display for young Barbaresco. On the finish, I found red fruits along with pretty inner floral tones. (92 points)
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Paje Riserva 2011 – The nose showed dark cherry, spice, hints of cedar and herbs in a deep and inviting display. On the palate, I found silky textures with sappy red fruits on a medium-bodied frame, with notes of savory herbs and bitters. It was center-focused with a dark persona leading to a palate-coating cherry sauce finish with caking minerality, and hints of fine tannin. (93 points) Find it at Morrell
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Ovello Riserva 2011 – The nose showed minerals up front with rosy floral tones, and young red fruits. On the palate, I found soft, silky textures in a feminine display with tart red fruits and mounting tannin. The finish was long and quite pretty, showing pretty hard red candies with hints of contrasting tannin. (90 points)
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva 2011 – The nose was wildly expressive with notes of medicinal cherry, cranberry, intense spice, dusty sweet floral tones and hints of undergrowth. On the palate, silky textures were quickly firmed up by youthful tannin in a dark and inward expression, showing bitter cherry and dark exotic spice. It finished on cranberry and palate-saturating tart cherry with lingering tannin. (93 points)
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Asili Riserva 2011 – The bouquet on the ’11 Asili was gorgeous and truly elegant with a dark display of ripe black cherry, strawberry, savory herbs, minerals and undergrowth. On the palate, it was full-bodied with smooth textures, yet wonderfully focused in its cherry, minerals and spice. It’s a complete and balanced wine with structure to carry it for upwards of two decades. It finished on inner floral tones, herbs, tart cherry and palate-coating tannin. (94 points)
Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva 2011 – The nose was layered, intense and alluring in every way, as a dark mix of crushed black cherry, plum, savory herbs, and floral tones came together with earth and mineral tones to form a gorgeous and classic Rabaja bouquet. On the palate, I found full-bodied, silky textures with ripe red fruits and spice that seemed to coat the senses, as well as the wine’s fine tannin. The long, enveloping finish seemed to go on and on with notes of tart cherry, mint, and minerals. This was a hard glass to put down; it’s a dark beauty of a wine that transcends the vintage. (95 points)
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Muncagota Riserva 2011 – The nose was highly expressive with mineral-infused cherry, plum, and hints of undergrowth. On the palate, silky textures were complemented by dark red fruits and spice in a broad and pliant expression of Nebbiolo. Young tannin coated the senses throughout the finish with hints of bitter cherry. (91 points)
Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Montefico Riserva 2011 – The ’11 Montefico came across as a wine of contrasts, being all at once lifted, yet intense. The nose seemed to draw me in, displaying a deep mix of crushed cherry, dark floral tones, and minerals. On the palate, I found silky textures, lifted by vibrant acidity and refined tannin, with notes of bright red fruit, herbs and inner floral tones. The finish was long, with saturating cherry, inner floral tones and fine tannin that coated the senses. This is a gorgeous Barbaresco for mid-term cellaring. (93 points) Find it at Morrell
Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Montestefano Riserva 2011 – The nose was beautifully layered and intense with deep red fruits, spice, minerals, rosy florals, and savory herbs. On the palate, it displayed silky textures contrasted by fine tannin with smoky spice, cherry, and minerals. There’s a tension here along with an inward feel that made me wonder what may be in store down the road. It finished on dark red fruits, sweet herbs and fine tannin. A classic in the making? I think there’s a good chance, as Montestefano performed more like young Barolo than Barbaresco. (94+ points) Find it at Morrell
Article, Photos, and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido
The Produttori del Barbaresco selection at Morrell.