Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Barbaresco’ 2012 and ‘Pora’ 2008

The Produttori del Barbaresco is one of the greatest (no longer un)discovered gems of Piedmont, producing a phenomenally priced Barbaresco and 9 single vineyard riservas in select years. The Produttori used to be notable for it’s century+ of history and the fact that unlike most cooperative wineries, its quality was exceptional. These days it is still known for its great pricing and quality, but also for its standard setting portfolio of single cru Barbaresco that are a match for all but the best in the AOC. A full history of the Produttori and its crus can be found here.

 

Like many traditionally made Nebbiolos these wines do take time unwind, at least 5 years for the Barbaresco (called Le Torre informally) and over a decade for the riservas, as my tasting of a nine year old bottle of ‘Pora’ showed.

 

Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Barbaresco’ 2014

(Tasted 11/17) Decanted for 2hrs. This is especially youthful compared to the 2012. Robust aromas of candied red fruit, red licorice, fennel, and floral pastille. Full, sappy texture with broad acidity and predictably gripping tannin. This is another standout ‘Le Torre’ from Produttori. While it has some youthful appeal with its forceful structure and already impressive complexity, it will be phenomenal in ten years. Drink after 2020.

Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Barbaresco’ 2012

(Tasted 01/17) Despite the several hours I left it open on the counter, it really took another hour in the glass to unwind. Color was a deep, but clear ruby. Quite simple sweet cherry at first but after the time in the glass really opened into violets, candied cherries, and thyme. Later on, fresh mint/sage, under-ripe red fruits, and wet rocks. Medium bodied and structured.
Tannin too took time, with your typical Barbaresco sneak-attack of robust but fine grained finish. This wine will be stellar in a couple of years at least, and will drink well for over a decade more.

 

Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva ‘Pora’ 2008

Dark maroon core with garnet edge.
Right out of the bottle the nose is of truffle, pure sweet dried fruits, blue and black, cocoa dust, foresty notes of fresh evergreen and sage, continues to evolve with some earth, orange zest, and smoke.

Immense freshness on the palate, long finish, and with air the buried tannin made itself known. A long life ahead, just starting to hint at some non-primary notes, though after an hour or two it simplified, so maybe it will shut down in a bit? Hard to guess. The fresh spring forest notes are what really make this an experience.

It is a delightful Barbaresco, unique for the expression the Nebbiolo takes with this terroir rather than any heavy handed winemaking. Will evolve for a long while.

 

What struck me most about this tasting is the rather reductive notion of Barbaresco being lighter and more feminine than Barolo. While its true that the terroir and proximity to the river make this a warmer, more temperate climate, the diversity of vineyard sites means that this generalization is pretty useless. No doubt writers and retailers love the rhetoric of the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ but when tasting the wines its mostly trash. A great Montestefano or Rabaja (or Pora) are just as powerfully deep as any Barolo of Cannubi, not to mention it continues the conceit that darker, more ‘masculine’ wines are by definition better.

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2012 Gattinara Franco Patriarca

It’s not news that Barolo and Barbaresco don’t have the monopoly on top quality Nebbiolo that they were once perceived to have, yet it still is tough to find new quality wineries from competition, like Ghemme, Carema, and of course Gattinara.

It’s not news that Barolo and Barbaresco don’t have the monopoly on top quality Nebbiolo that they were once perceived to have, yet it still is tough to find new quality wineries from the competition, like Ghemme, Carema, and of course Gattinara. This Alto-Piemonte poster child is only just north of the Abla and Asti communes, yet with a substantial difference of terroir, that is its volcanic soil. Despite the Alto-Piemonte climate, Gattinara’s volcanic grown Nebbiolo creates deep, aromatic, and mineral wines thanks to the distinctive soil. The region had an unfortunate 15 minutes of limelight back in the 60’s when someone tried to make it fashionable, but being pre-DOC regulations, a flood of cheap knockoffs and downright fraudulent wines flooded the market and ruined its image.

With DOCG regulations as strict as Barolo/Barbaresco and an equally important, though quite different soil composition, Gattinara can produce some pretty stunning Nebbiolo that can last decades. Yet few quality producers remain after the mid-century exodus from the farmlands. It is still only a shadow of the wine-making region it once was, and while Travaligni and Antoniolo still hold the torch, new wineries just aren’t popping up that often. So imagine my surprise at Kermit Lynch in Berkeley, when I find a reasonably Gattinara from Franco Patriarca sitting on the shelf.

With only 250 cases made, this is truly a locally oriented gem. Fermented in steel and age in only large barrels, this is a clean, transparent Nebbiolo.

 

The color is a deep crystalline rose with a pale garnet reflection. The aromas of rosewater and bay dominate the nose, as well as a somewhat unappealing watermelon candy quality. As time goes on, a more tarry, mineral tinged quality lifts from the glass that puts it a very good place. The clean unpretentious quality of this wine is honest and intriguing at the same time. RECOMMENDED