I love these wines and buy them regularly. I also have a pretty good range of experience with them as the posts below show:
Vertical of Pora Cru
1971 Barbresco gets a mention here
A Cru comparison 2005 Asili & Montefico
This tasting was overseen, in charismatic form, by the commercial director of Produttori del Barbaresco, Aldo Vacca. Recently described by Ian D’Agata as a ‘walking encyclopedia on Nebbiolo and Barbaresco’, Aldo guided us through the 2011 Cru release.
There are two elements to the Riserva release which make it particularly intriguing. To start with the Crus are not released every year. When quality is not deemed high enough, only the Langhe Nebbiolo and ‘regular’ Barbaresco are produced, subsequently, this regular Barbaresco is of an even more outstanding in quality, as it includes the top fruit which normally would have gone into making the Crus. Secondly, it’s an ‘all or nothing’ situation, either all the nine Crus are produced, or none. In any given year, if the high quality is not consistent throughout all nine single vineyards, then none will be made. It is this unwavering, quality-focused, approach which means that the Produttori del Barbaresco Riservas rank amongst the best wines in Italy.
As a bit of extra info: The Produttori del Barbaresco co-operative now covers 110 hectares which is spread between 52 members. All members have to commit 100% to the Produttori and can not make wines that compete or sell grapes elsewhere. The nines Crus circle round the Barbaresco village starting from Ovello, Montefico and Montestefano on the North-eastern side, looping down to the South-eastern and southern areas with Muncagota, Pajè, Asili and Pora. Finally, Rabajà and Rio Sordo lie in the next band of vineyards, a little further south. The Produttori has been making the single vineyard wines since 1967 and is the largest producer of Barbaresco.
My notes in the order tasted. All scored out of 20…
Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 – “Baby Barbaresco” as it is often referred to. It spends 5 months in big barrels This wine has been made since 1975 (ironically “my” vintage), the appellation only came into existence in the 1970’s. In 2014 Barbaresco was reportedly the best of the Piedmont areas, it was a wet spring and early summer before the late summer and September where dry and gave good ripening conditions. Full but transparent colour, cool cherry fruit, strawberry also, more sour cherry on the palate with a nice bit of grip. There is a creamy element as well as a little gentle spice – white pepper. Great value – 17
Barbaresco 2012 – The were no Crus made in 2012 so all the “juice” is in the straight Barbaresco which was bottled in March 2015. The weather in the vintage was arguably a little too warm and never really cooled down so the differentiation between sites did not quite warrant the Crus being released. This is lovely with a darker richer intensity. More black fruit than red, good weight, a mulled fruit quality. Juicy. 17.5-18
The 2011 vintage was a ripe, rich and intense vintage, full-bodied, as ripe as it gets without over ripeness, chilly nights and hot days that saw lovely differentiation of sites and splendid complexity. A case (12bts) of the Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 that I had at home didn’t even last a month – delicious!
Barbaresco Riserva Pajè 2011 – Nice nose, a little coffee, sweet with good depth, some spice. The fruit has purity and might just be strawberry more than anything but it is hard to define one fruit type. Good acidity – a good start. 17
Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota 2011 – More lifted with redder fruit than Paje. Lovely finish to this. Overall this shows that rare trait of richness and coolness. 18
Barbaresco Riserva Pora 2011 – Aldo commented here that Pora tended to be more approachable, more herbal than many Crus as it is closer to the river. I found this to have a sage and herbal nose as well as good lush fruit. Lovely almost menthol fruit freshness, some bold tannins but not too much, ripe. 17.5-18
Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo 2011 – Vibrant red cherry fruit and also a little spice, lovely cool fruited palate, not aggressive. This is not overly complex but is nicely complete. 17-17.5
Barbaresco Riserva Asili 2011 – Darker but at the same time more muted and more serious, more saline also (I do love salinity). The palate is then lovely with big ripe tannins, mouth coating but not drying, long, bold and serious. The pick possibly. 18.5
Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà 2011 – A little muted but good mid-red fruit with some black elements. Not heavy in tannin but developed on the palate, not quite so fresh. This is a little more bruised or degraded and a little less precise, a little tough, time needed? 16.5
Barbaresco Riserva Ovello 2011 – Placed at the northern tip of Barbaresco and with a multiple exposure but common soil type. Lighter and a little brighter, fresher, I really liked this. Has a poised red fruit and a good, if less obtrusive structure. Good, more feminine, stands apart stylistically. 18-18.25
Barbaresco Riserva Montefico 2011 – With a full south exposure. Lifted menthol freshness and then this combines with very bright red fruits. Bold rich tannins follow on the palate, cracking nose, the tannin may need to resolve into the wine, when it does this could be rather special. 17.75-18.25
Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano 2011 – A little muted and harder to define, less red fruits, bold yet somehow more insular, savoury and a little saline, this may just be a more brooding example. Despite the mixed note I gave it a rather definite 18
A very fine tasting indeed…