Co-ops are usually the volume-first, quality-second institutions of the wine world. Not so with Produttori del Barbaresco, a group of 19 producers in the Barbaresco appellation who work together to produce some of the best wines in all of Piedmont, and at remarkably reasonable prices. Italian wine expert Charles Scicolone, in an interview I had the chance of doing with him last year, told me he considered Produttori as the best Barbaresco producer, bar none, and after tasting a few of their bottlings, I tend to agree. The 2006 “regular” Barbaresco (as opposed to their single vineyard bottlings), is clearly built for the long run, with fine but significant tannins, loads of great tart cherry and tobacco leaf aromas, a fine acidity and a terrific, clean, precise finish. The color is the clear garnet of traditional nebbiolo, free of oak (why would that grape need it?), fine and well-defined. Buy every bottle you find and drink them slowly over the next twenty years. Also look for their Langhe Nebbiolo, a simpler, fun expression of nebbiolo that is a real deal at less than $20 CDN. Highly recommended.
The wine is light, fruity, and tart. The fruits are all red, raspberry, cranberry, and a little sour cherry. It also has some warm, toasty flavors from light use of wood, and a bit of cinnamon. Tannins are very light, but present. Acid, on the other hand, is there by the bucketful, giving a tingling, almost effervescent sensation. Drink with roasted chestnuts.
Driving around the enigmatic, fog-shrouded Piedmont region of Italy, I saw steep vineyards that fall away from the winding, mountain roads, and medieval castles looming out of the haze on every other hilltop. I recalled the great Barolo and Barbaresco wines from this region are made from the nebbiolo grape—and nebbia is the Italian word for fog. Why was I wending my way through this misty part of northern Italy? To learn about wine and terroir—and sales, too.
Intensely floral, this makes a wine lasagna with lavender and rose petals noodles between layers of elderberries, raspberries, lightly smoked pork, and leather. This practically begs to pair with meat, from sage-rubbed pork roast to lamb with rosemary. At its price point, $20, buy it by the case and drink it over the next two years.
Long, dense, and generally not my style of Nebbiolo... but this wine turns the trick of amping up without losing the varietal character. A nice current of iron flows through to make sure the sweet fruit doesn't become cloying. It gets pretty oaky without being a jerk about it. Beautiful with butternut squash / beef stew.
Hedonistic but hardly recognizable as Nebbiolo. The nose evokes some of the hot vintages in the southern Rhone, with fig cake and jam. Dense, with rich and chocolate-covered fruit. The finish is halted by a wall of drying tannins that clearly need to settle in. Needs time, and it needs a consumer who doesn't care too much for a wine's sense of place. Just please me, baby!
Not as elegant as I had expected, but perhaps understandable given the vintage. Very perfumy, with stewed fruits and tar leading from nose to palate. A twinge of crowbar would keep the blind taster in Piedmont, as would the tannins, which are still choppy and aggressive. Needs time.