2015 Tasting at Produttori del Barbaresco with Aldo Vacca

Tasted Friday, July 3, 2015 by HowardNZ with 1,137 views

Introduction

Aldo Vacca the Managing Director of Produttori del Barbaresco was generous to spend half a day with us in Barbaresco. We began beneath the 1,000 year old Barbaresco tower, with the Tanaro River below us and the Ovello vineyard in the distance, where Aldo explained the geology and geography of the area and the history of Produttori.

We then drove around various vantage points to see most of Produttori's vineyards.

We stopped first to see Asili and Rabajà, in the direction of Marchesi di Gresy's monopole Martinenga, with Pora in the distance and Rio Sordo below. We then stopped to view Muncagato and Montestfano, with their full south aspects. Further along we saw my favourite Produttori vineyard, Montefico, with Ovello over the hill. We stopped for a better view of Rabajà and then at Produttori's second winery close to Ovello.

Aldo described the recent vintages in relation to the Riservas:

2007: 'A strange vintage' said Aldo. He said that between 20 September and 2 October none of the numbers changed. Now Aldo describes it as 'seamless, a perfect vintage'. He really rates the 2007 Riservas.
2008: A vintage Aldo likes with the Riservas: 'a bright burst of intense fruit'.
2009: A 'warmer, softer, full, rich and powerful' vintage for earlier drinking.
2010: No Riservas made to preserve the quality of the Normale.
2011: Aldo described the 'super ripe vintage' which in his view gives a clear vintage characteristic. He said his '11s were 'perhaps a little New World'. The closest vintage he could compare them with was 1990. He said that he didn't expect them to be cellared very long-term, noting that 'about 20 years' was about the life of the '90s. He described the wines as 'sweet, drinkable young'. Tasting them, I was initially surprised, expecting them to be more classical 2004-like, based on the early reports. However, not being very familiar with 1990 Barbareschi, to me, they seemed like a cross between the '09s and '04s, but closer to the '09s.
2012: No Riservas because they would have been 'less interesting', according to Aldo.
2013: Definitely Riservas. Great potential, based on Aldo's comments and the four we tasted. Aldo was pleased because 2013 is the first good '3' Barbaresco vintage since 1923.
2014: Probably Riservas. 'A better year in Barbaresco than in Barolo', said Aldo.

Flight 1 - A quick tasting of some 2013 Riservas ... (4 Notes)

We asked Aldo if we could taste some '13s before our main tasting of '11s in bottle. It was only a quick tasting of four Riservas, from 25 HL Botti, that Aldo was happy for us to see. I was very impressed with the potential quality of the samples tasted. Just quick impressions however ...

  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    A beautiful bouquet of rose hips, bright cherries and other dark fruit and spices. You could sense the structure and depth on the nose. On palate, very attractive and approachable. I could drink this Rabajà now! Good freshness and acidity. Ultra-fine tannins. The big structure of this wine hits you on the back palate. This is a serious, high quality wine. Very long. This Rabajà could be quite special.

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  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montefico

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    I'm probably biased because the Montefico is typically my favourite Riserva however I thought there was also great potential here. A nose of dark cherry and black liquorice with a mineral backbone. Surprisingly drinkable, yet to close down. Classical Montefico in structure, acidity and tannins. Good freshness. Deep dark fruit, some menthol and finishing long, chalky and mineral.

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  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    A contrast. On the nose, brighter, red cherries and dried herbs, a slightly jubey feel. Racy acidity on the front palate. Those red cherries, red currants, raspberries and other red fruit flavours are the first impression and then the structure and the grippy tannins hits you on the finish. Actually, there is quite a lot of weight and tannin in the Ovello. Very good, I suspect, but this wine will need major cellar time.

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  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    The Rio Sordo was in barrel almost a year to the day said Aldo. Deep, bright red colour. The first sample was 'aytpical' according to Aldo, seeming too reduced, chemical, spritzy and drying on the finish. A second sample from another tank was much more 'correct'. A nose of clean red berries and, in the mouth, sweeter and quite pinot-like. Crystalline red fruit. After a relatively sweet entry, a succulent, juicy mid palate, the back end was very tight and grippy.

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Flight 2 - 2011 Riservas in bottle ... (9 Notes)

The 2011s were bottled less than a month before we tasted them. Aldo was interested in our reaction because ours was the first tasting of the lineup in bottle.

Aldo said he thought that the '11s might hit their peak relatively early, in 10-15 years.

Unsurprisingly, Aldo is still thinking about the optimal ordering of these wines but the below reflected his current thinking. Typically he orders a tasting of Riservas from most approachable to the most structured and dense. He is particularly still thinking about the placement of the Muncagato. Also, the Rabajà was placed relatively early and the Ovello relatively late. It will be interesting to see if the order is the same for our next tasting of '11s in NZ ...

Given their rich and opulent style and accessibility, and that vaguely New World quality, I can see the 2011 Riservas being very popular ...

  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pora

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    A vineyard proximate to the Tanaro River and valley floor enjoys warm mornings. A lighter red colour. Bright red cherry, raspberry and other red fruit and dried herbs on the nose, with some minerals. Typical Pora. Easy on the palate, fully ripe and relatively open. Seemingly less tannic. Vibrant. Good sparkling acidity, the wine actually finishes on those acids. On the second taste, I noted the big fruit and the broad mid palate had I missed on the first taste but also the slightly pinched back palate. Of course, the latter could be due to bottle shock.

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pajè

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    The vineyard is a small bowl facing southwest between the village and the famous Asili vineyard. A deeper, darker red. A nose of spices, strawberries, raspberries and other red fruit. Seemingly a more typical Barbaresco than the Pora. A cooler expression. Good, fully ripe fruit. A similar red fruit spectrum to the Pora but with more tension, line and drive on the Paje. Strongly preferred over the Pora. Perhaps it did relatively better in the warmer vintage of 2011?

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    The vineyard is a long southwest exposed hillside, not far from the river, with a low calcium soil. Another bouquet of predominantly red fruit. Bright and very expressive. On palate, a sweet entry, then very juicy and succulent. Silky texture. Flavours of red cherry, red currant and a little red plum. Quite a New World wine feel. Grippy tannins on the back palate. Broader and not as precise as the Paje so less preferred in this tasting.

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Asili

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    The main part of the famous vineyard is a protected bowl facing southwest far from the river. Vibrant ruby. A perfumed, captivating bouquet, with a nice floral lift. Aromas of dried and fresh roses. The best Riserva so far and presently showing one of the best of the tasting. Some sweetness on entry. Supple, charming and fresh. Very delicate and elegant. Well balanced and proportioned. Very long. Just when you think it is finishing the power really comes through, reminding you this is a serious wine with real structure. Excellent!

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    The Rabajà vineyard is known for its complex mix of soil types. More of a dark fruited nose. Lovely perfumes, suggesting dark roses, wild herbs and spices. In the mouth, more backward, darker and structured than the Asili. Big fruit expression and larger scaled but with fine grained tannins. Serious architecture, dry extract and power. Well balanced and proportioned with good acidity. As you would expect from the Rabajà, all class!

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    The name is the Piemontese version of the former name Moccagatta. The vineyard faces southeast, receiving the cooler morning rather than the warmer afternoon sun. Perhaps with only a month in bottle, the Mucagato is going through a difficult phase? Aldo said 'Usually in a young Barbaresco the tannin masks the fruit, but here it is the other way around.' A deeper, darker colour. A nose of dark chocolate, dark earth and espresso. On palate, chunkier, darker fruited, earthier. Medicinal flavours. Large scaled fruit. Tannins in the background, but with some grip.

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    Ovello is the northernmost vineyard, the highest and coolest, with the soil rich in clay. A lifted, very pretty nose, the most floral on the table. Spicy red cherries and red roses. Almost a Vosne Romanee-like bouquet. On palate, svelte and sexy. Quite silky with fine grained tannins. Good acidity here. As a northern, high and cool vineyard, this site often does well in a warmer year like 2011. But the Ovello is not a light bodied wine - it has substantial, serious tannins and real fruit weight, structure and power. I liked the Ovello very much.

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montefico

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    Montefico has full southern exposure and a high calcium soil. A high toned bouquet of violets, irises, rosemary, bauxite and blackberries. A racy, exciting palate. The most nervy of the Riservas. Enervated. Dark berry palate with liquorice, cloves, minerals and a slight menthol character, which lend freshness. Laser like precision and focus. Very driven and linear. It finishes long on more minerals. My favourite of the tasting over the (very different) Asili and Rabajà.

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  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    A south facing vineyard with full sun and a soil rich in calcium. 'The transition to Barolo' said Aldo. Tar, dark fruit, musk and liquorice, with a little cedar, on bouquet. Very rich and heavy. Huge fruit weight with tons of tar, dark cherry, Black Doris plum, espresso and black soil on palate. Massive tannins. As is normal, this wine will need 10+ years cellar time.

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Closing

I think these sites and wines are great for us wine lovers. They give us endless complexities to think about each vintage they are made (geology, aspect, effect of the vintage on the particular site etc) ... but may present some issues in marketing. Aldo said with a smile one of his importers (I will not name) had said to him 'Nine vineyards is a good number, just six too many. Do more Rabajà!'

Thanks very much Aldo! I look forward to seeing you on your next NZ visit!

I'll shortly post notes on our lunch with Aldo and Renato Vacca of Cantina del Pino at Trattoria Antica Torre in Barbaresco.

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