2017 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
The brilliant ruby and orange tinted 2017 Barbaresco DOCG from the Produttori del Barbaresco is already drinking fabulously with classic Nebbiolo character and though it has a ripe sensation on the full bodied palate from the warm vintage it still has a chalky mineral note and some rustic tannin to balance things out, this is a remarkably poised and alluring effort. The stylish and high quality co-op continues to impress, and while I loved the 2013s and especially the 2016s here, this 2017 is just about equal and I was captivated with my first impressions here and the lovely aromatics with wilted roses, anise and earthy tones adding to the brandied cherries and damson plum fruits, the palate is complex playing the heightened fruit against a nice savory edginess, it adds a deeper sense of currant and a nice cedary spice to the mix as it opens up. Food brings greater depth and pleasure to the experience and brings out the softer and more pretty side of this Nebbiolo, while hints of iron/meat and truffle come through in the background. This vintage should drink well mid term and no penalty for early drinking is obvious, while the powerful 2016s still should get another 3 to 5 years in the cellar, for best results. Coming from various parcels and exposures, set on limestone and clay soils, rich in calcium with sandy veins, the 2017 was stainless steel vat fermented and then aged 24 months in traditional large oak casks. The winery suggests natural pairings of fresh pasta, meat dishes, game birds, such as quail, duck or the guinea hen, and particularly lamb to go with this Barbaresco, which I agree with, plus more mild cheeses.

Modern Barbaresco came into being, or saw a significant re-awakening In 1958, when the priest of the village of Barbaresco, recognizing that the only way the small properties could survive was by joining forces, and he gathered together nineteen small growers and founded the Produttori del Barbaresco. The first three vintages were made in the church basement, then in the winery built across the square where the Produttori is still located. The Produttori as of today has 54 members and controls more than 100 hectares (250 acres) of premium Nebbiolo vineyards in Barbaresco. Before that, back in 1894, Domizio Cavazza, the headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba and a proud Barbaresco resident who realized that the area had a distinct terroir and was an equal to the bigger and more famous Barolo, created the first cooperative, the Cantine Sociali to compete with Barolo, he gathered together nine Barbaresco vineyard owners to make wine in the local castle that he owned, and this was how Barbaresco came into being. Sadly the fascist government put the original co-op out of business, but after the war and Italy’s re-birth, things started looking up and Produttori del Barbaresco has taken up the challenge and produces maybe the greatest co-op wine in the world, especially their Cru bottlings, like their Asili, Montefico, Montestefano, Muncagota, Ovello, Pajè, Pora, Rabajà and Rio Sordo Riservas, but this basic Barbaresco is a fantastic wine and a great value, as this 2017 demonstrates. It is quite amazing that this wine, with 22,000 cases made, can be this good, this unique and this consistent, it is a tribute to each and everyone of the collection of individual farmers that go about their work with such pride and passion.
($49 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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