Produttori Barbaresco 2016
Those of you who love Nebbiolo (like I do) cannot help but know this iconic wine, its label, and the tower of Barbaresco. In essence, this wine IS Nebbiolo, the benchmark, the standard-bearer, the icon. And did you also know, it’s a co-op?
A co-op is an association, typically of farmers, that get together to communalize their fruit, make wine in one effort, thereby reducing costs, and selling that wine off in bulk or bottle. Co-operatives generally have a bad reputation in the world of wine. By definition, co-ops don’t have to make plonk. But almost all of them let farmers go wild, purchasing fruit by the ton instead of by quality. The result worldwide is some of the most watery wine you can make that pops up in grocery store chains here and abroad for $3 a bottle.
But not Produttori. They are the exception to the rule and have been for over a century. It’s an amazing feat:
The first cooperative in Barbaresco, what would become the storied Produttori, was gathered by Domizio Cavazza, headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba in 1894. He happened to own the local castle, and it’s that tower which graces the label today and is the landmark for all Nebbiolo-loving pilgrims to know they’ve come home, on the drive through the Tanaro River Valley. Cavazza understood very well the differences of quality that could be derived from the Nebbiolo grape and sanctioned off nine specific Barbaresco vineyard owners to form his cooperative which would last for nearly 40 years. Unfortunately, fascism intervened and in the 1930s this “cantine sociali de Barbaresco” was forced to close.
Yet the dream survived – in 1958 the priest of the village of Barbaresco restarted the co-op. I would love to believe it was purely for sacred purposes (Nebbiolo is sacred to me), but my understanding is that it was a more complex issue than that. This priest understood the economics of a small, historical, but struggling and nearly forgotten wine region. In 1958, the priest gathered 19 families dedicated to the highest standards in growing Nebbiolo to form the modern cooperative of Produttori del Barbaresco.
Their mission, now over half a century old, has amazingly never wavered. And with the 2016 vintage, Produttori has made a grand slam of a Barbaresco that simply can’t be beat! This is exceptional Nebbiolo, perhaps a once-in-our-lifetimes feat for this winery and region. But you don’t have to take my word for it. The world speaks of this wine in superlatives:
“A beautiful wine. 95 points” – Robert Parker
“This should be in every serious Nebbiolo lover’s cellar. 95 points.” – Wine & Spirits
“A stunning wine with tremendous richness. 95 points.” – Vinous
Or, as Domizio Cavazza put it in 1907:
“If you want to taste the wine Barbaresco, please do not ask for a small sample… instead buy a case. This will be the best way for you to understand Barbaresco.”
And I whole heartedly agree. Here is your chance at what I am sure will be a pinnacle for the winery, region, and grape for a century to come.
“The 2016 Barbaresco is a tight and beautiful wine that will require more time to unwind and soften. This beautifully balanced vintage is characterized by a tight inner core of fruit that underlines the graceful aging capacity of these wines. The 2016 is shaping up to be one destined for long cellar aging. Now in its youth, the wine offers wild berry, rose and licorice aromas.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“95 points. Cellar selection.
“Enticing aromas of violet, woodland berry, loose vineyard soil, wild mint and a hint of spearmint shape the intensely fragrant nose. The tense, young palate is still nervous but already boasts finesse, showing wild raspberry, crunchy red cherry, white pepper and star anise. Firm, refined tannins and racy acidity give it a linear, almost austere elegance, while bright acidity keeps it focused and balanced. Drink 2026–2036.” – Wine Enthusiast
“95 points. Best Buy.
“This is Produttori del Barbaresco’s flagship wine, produced with fruit selected from their 54 growers, who collectively farm some 250 acres of vines, and it is a stunner in the 2016 vintage. It’s ripe and precise, the vibrant red fruit lifted by fresh floral scents and subtle spice. The tannins envelop that fruit like a soft leather glove, as brisk acidity propels the flavors toward a vertical finish. There’s no better bargain in Barbaresco, and with 22,000 cases produced, this should be on every serious Italian wine list and in every nebbiolo lover’s cellar.” – Wine & Spirits
“The 2016 Barbaresco is a stunning wine with tremendous richness for this bottling. Ample, deep and powerful, the 2016 exudes pedigree and class from start to finish. I can’t remember a straight Barbaresco here with this much fruit density and unctuous richness, and yet there is more than enough tannin and overall structure to give the wine its classically leaning feel. A blast of sweet red cherry fruit, tobacco, menthol licorice and smoke hits the potent finish. What a wine!” – Vinous