50 families. 250 acres. 1 wine.
The years following World War II were hard, arduous years for many Italians. Jobs were scarce, the country was torn to tatters in many regions and making a living was about banding together as a community with one purpose; survival. They say necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of the Produttori del Barbaresco, it was a way to put food on the table. Started by a priest in 1958, the coop we know today resulted from nineteen small family growers who realized they didn’t own enough land to farm independently and earn a living. One by one they banded together for a greater common purpose and now today, the 50 families that grow grapes for the Produttori del Barbaresco stretch back three generations.
Today, in addition to a general Barbaresco, the Produttori Coop crafts nine other single vineyard Barbaresco Riservas as vintage conditions dictate. Only in the greatest vintages are the Cru Barbaresco produced. Consequently, in vintages where the Riservas are not made, readers can and should aggressively seek out the estate Barbaresco as that wine will receive the declassified Riserva fruit.
Each Cru Riserva reflects a different terroir and are produced from a selection of grapes sourced from nine historical premium sites within the Barbaresco village boundaries. These historical vineyards, known for centuries for producing high quality grapes, are Asili, Montefico, Montestefano, Muncagota, Ovello, Pajè, Pora, Rabajà and Rio Sordo.
First released in 1967, they are vinified and aged with exactly the same style in order to illustrate the different personalities of each vineyard and express them in their purest form. My personal favorites have always been Asili, Ovello and Rabaja though it’s really splitting hairs. What differences are magnified you ask? Without question, the easiest differences to perceive are imparted from the soil variances; which for the most part are composed of limestone mixed with clay. The higher the clay content, the more masculine the wines can be. Vineyards which favor limestone tend to be more elegant and display greater minerality. Which brings me to the subject of today’s article. I knew all too well that regardless of which Cru I opened, it would likely be tight and backward, even with some decanting. Still, I had the itch and so I reached fro Cru Montestefano because in my experience, this is one of the wines that can be approachable a bit sooner.
The 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano is not surprisingly built for the long haul. Deep ruby in the glass, you can almost see the ring of brick/orange that will only widen as this wine gracefully ages. After two hours in the decanter the aromas from the wine were intense and expressive. There is a huge core of cherry fruit that is backed by robust fennel, cured meat and mushroom notes. I always love the fennel aromatics from Nebbiolo.
On the palate, the wine is full bodied and seems to toe the line between masculine and feminine. The ripe cherry flavors are notable and even forceful but don’t sacrifice elegance for persistence. Accented with flavors of fennel, mushroom and orange rind this is well balanced and displays ample acidity that keeps the wine fresh. On the back end, the tannins are notable. With the grilled porterhouse, they don’t detract but without food, this is not surprisingly grippy. If you’re curious, decant one of these for 2+ hours and grill some hearty meat. Otherwise, cellar another 5 years. 94 points. About $60. Find this wine.
In the future there will be more data points from this wonderful coop as I have several other Cru in the cellar. For now, decant and enjoy!