GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Produttori del Barbaresco the 1978's

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 16, 2008.

Wines tasted:

1978 Produttori del Barbaresco BarbarescoTorre 89pts
1978 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello 89pts
1978 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta 88pts
1978 Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montefico 92pts
1978 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano 92pts
1978 Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Asili 94pts
1978 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja 93pts

I recently joined a group of fellow Nebbiolo aficianados for an impressive evening of the wines of the Produttori del Barbaresco, that mythical cooperative that arguably produces Piedmonte's finest value. Nor only does this coop stand out for the quality of the wines they produce today but for the wines that they have produced for decades.

Now it is easy to comment on how durable and great the vintage of 1978 was, and these wines certainly pay testament to that fact but there have been so many convincing and compelling bottles Produttori wines from 1970 until today that this can not be viewed as a vintage related issue. Quite simply Aldo Vacca and his consortium of farmers have been able to capture the essence of place and time over and over again and then sell these vivid vinous snapshots for very low prices, much to their chagrin no doubt.

While the prices have begun to catch up with quality her, many accostomed to the great values of the past might argue that they have caught up and more, these still represent great value in the world of Nebbiolo. In particular there are no greater producers of Barbaresco. Yes we can single out a producer or two who consistently produce better wines but that is missing the point. The Produttori don't turn out a wine or two, they turn out a consistently great line-up of wines from Langhe Nebbiolo,( look for an update on this wine soon), to the basic Barbaresco and the 9 single vineyards.

There simply is no other producer anywhere that can take you through a tour of a region's most famous vineyards they way you can do it with the Produttori and for that alone they must be recognized as one of the world's great wineries.

Of course they are only as great as the wines they produce and this line-up was as convincing a line-up as one could ask for. Kudos to Jamie Wolff of NYC's Chambers St. Wines, one of the country's great wine shops, for assembling these wines and organizing this event. The wines each showed their special character as we moved from strength to strength through out the evening. Before I continue with the wine notes I just want to mention that another of this country's greatest wine shops, The Rare Wine Company of Sonoma, CA, has organized was promises to be an epic event featuring 20 of the Produttori's best wines spanning the vintages from 1978 through 1996. This event will be held at Convivio, a restaurant in Tudor City, Manhattan where Sommelier extraordinaire Levi Dalton holds court. It promises to be one hell of a night, great wines, great service and great food. I look forward to seeing all of you who are going! Naturally a full report will be coming soon!

But now to the wines at hand. We began with base bottling, or Torre bottling, socalled due to the picture of a tower that graces the label. The famous Torre Antica that sits just opposite the entrance to the winery in Barbaresco. This blend of the various vineyards was very well preserved and perhaps more extracted than the single vineyard riservas. Still chunky and rich it was complete and full if not particularly elegant or complex. I still would drink it any chance I could get!

Next up was the Ovello, the Produttori's second largest vineyard after Pora. This was so true to it's terroir, sandy and limestone rich as it is. With powerful minerality that gave the nose a saline edge this was typical of the vineyard offering a more precocious wine with a soft character that offered elegance over power. Perfectly ready this was a fine counterpoint to the Torre bottling.

Next up was the Moccagatta. While it could be argued that this wine was noticably on it's downslope this still had a lot to offer with tertiary complexity and remaining fruit expressed with the delicacy and gentle character that the vineyard is known for.

With the Montefico we moved up a level begin the run of truly exceptional wines that would rule the night. Here we had a fine combination of bright, ripe fruit, gentle spice tones and a fine balance between elegance and power that embodies Barbaresco. This was singing this evening and while not my wine of the night this just might be considered the most quintessential wine of the evening!

With the Montestefano we were treated to a big, rich, structured wine that still had alot of room to develop! None the less it was a beautiful wine this evening, powerful and packed with ripe fruit and superb structural elements that gave this large scaled Barbaresco uncommon elegance. It's lack of complexity may have been a bit surprising but the fruit here is so amazing it was scarcely missed.

At this point we were left with the 2 finest vineyards in Barbaresco. We began with the Asili from a tiny 2 hectare parcel in this esteemed cru. Many find Asili's combination of complexity without weight to be the highest expression for the zone and this bottle did not disappoint. The nose was explosive and complex featuring an aromatic symphony of classic mature Nabbiolo notes. In the mouth the transparency and fine quality of the tannins made this a joy to drink and carefully framed the intense fruit and spice notes. A stunning wine.

We finished off the evening with that other stalwart of Barbaresco, Rabaja. With its heavier soils, rich in clay, it is not unusual for Rabaja it is not uncommon for these wines to offer more power than Asili yet with a similar elegance. Deep, muscular, dark and smoky this was a prisitne bottle nearing if not at peak. The tannins are a little less refined than with the Asili and the wine retains a youthful density but this was a great way to end the evening.

And that was it. I wish I had more of these wines in my cellar. I can't wait for the Rare Wine Co.'s dinner since I have some later vintages resting and this will be a great chance to check in on them. If you see these wines at what appear to be reasonable prices I urge you to check them out. For lovers of Nebbiolo they offer value that simply can not be beat!


Reply by Eric Guido, Dec 16, 2008.

Man, Greg you certainly have a way of making someone want to drink wine. Wow, what a line up. I wish I could have been involved in this. Ahh, this tasting on the 19th is starting to sound like something that must be attended.

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 29, 2016.

While searching Barbaresco, I came across this thread, and what a great write up this is. Very helpful in this stage of wine buying I find myself in. Man I wish I could go back the 7.5 years to have attended this!

Just off of one bottle of 1999 Rabaja I've had, shared with Foxall and his wife, I'm of the opinion that Rabaja doesn't have my favorite soils. Found it too gamey, blood and iodine heavy for me.

Rabaja is also known as a very warm site, which no doubt came in handy in prior decades when the region was on the whole, experiencing cooler weather.

So it seems very clear I need to pay more attention to Asili. I have only 4 bottles of the 2011 Produttori Asili, but at least that's a start. 

While I may have neglected Asili, at least I've been good enough to buy a few more Montefico's across a couple vintages, and then cases plus mags of Montestefano...the upward mobility and cellar worthiness of this Cru excites me.

Reply by GregT, Jun 29, 2016.

JD - we did a few tastings of the single vineyards and the "regular" bottlings and for my money, the general bottling can't be beat for value. Has to be the world's best co-op. Anything they do is worth picking up.

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 29, 2016.

Got any older Asili's Greg?

We should have a tasting!

Reply by dmcker, Jun 29, 2016.

Only can find them in fits and spurts in Tokyo. Even the Langhe Nebbiolo, and whenever I see it I grab a case or two. Ditto for the plain vanilla Barbaresco, which is a real step up--from an entry-level wine that is my idea of the ideal daily quaffer that can also even work on special occasions. So I, too, am a big fan.

Posted back on Dec. 6 in OT's Whatcha drinkin' thread:

"Sparkling to start with then Produttori del Barbaresco's 2010 Barbaresco (no single bottlings that year), then the same co-op's 1979 (very good though kinda under-the-radar vintage) Ovello."

Both were off the restaurant's 'reserve' wine list, though not always available there. But always a view of an oasis in a desert when I see them on someone's list.

JD, have been happy with Rabaja on many past occasions. Am also happy that they do have that range of other mouthwatering offerings.


Going back to the OP, I'm reminded once again that GDP's *not* a fan of Gaja.  ;-)

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 29, 2016.

I think that 2010 Produttori normale is one to buy, also tried at a resto earlier this year and could tell it's going to be a late bloomer with good cellar potential.

Also understand Giacosa and Roagna make an Asili, a regular and reserve in both cases, more food for thought. I don't own any Gaja but have thought about buying an odd bottle here or there. Their normale comes from the Pajore vineyard mainly, which is supposedly very nice. Sottimano makes a pretty nice one...had a 2011 over the weekend that was quite a sexy beast.


Reply by JonDerry, Jun 29, 2016.

Following up on the 2011 Sottimano Barbaresco...took this one to our annual Las Vegas convention in an insulated backpack with icepacks. Of course AC in the car all the way helped, and the ice packs kept it cool during setup, then got to the hotel room in fine order I have to assume...worked out well.

Silky consistency with good earth, spice (some mild cinnamon) and measured, complex tannin. The drying finish sails on for a good while. Has early appeal but look forward to watching this blossom over the years.

Reply by GregT, Jun 30, 2016.

Nice JD.

Unfortunately I don't have any older Asili or any other Produttori at the moment. I always think I should buy in quantity and then for whatever reason, I usually don't get around to it and when I do, like this past winter, we drink them up. Partly because my wife loves them, partly because I do.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 1, 2016.

If drinking a bottle of wine early helps a relationship, then who cares about ideal drinking window?  It's a guess anyway.  I can't ever buy enough in quantities because I want variety and I don't have space.  Hate to be too invested in any one wine.  But those PdB normales are something you could dip into once a week if you felt like it.

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 1, 2016.

Agreed Fox, and considering I got the 2011 Montestefano's for under $44 with no tax, I had to stock up. Wish I had gone as strong with the Asili's which are already up in price over two weeks.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 3, 2016.

There are a couple Langhe Nebbiolos like Vietti's Perbacco and one or two others, and a few Gattinaras and the like that go for a song that I actually do drink like dailies, or elevated dailies.  As long as the food is right, and they are pretty flexible, even good with roast chicken, there's nothing stopping me.

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