Vinopolpick Weekend – November 22

November 22, 2013


The Nebbiolo grape is considered by many to be a native species to the Langhe sub-region of Piedmont.   There, the grape yields two world-class wines, Barbaresco and Barolo, but yet is practically inseparable from its home terroir around the Langhe.  Attempts to grow it elsewhere are rarely successful and do not yield the same level of power or complexity.  The phylloxera devastation encouraged many grape-growers throughout the Langhe to replant with easier to grow and vinify varieties such as Dolcetto and Barbera.  Today, less than 10% of vineyards in the Langhe are planted with Nebbiolo.  But, those grape-growers that choose to take the risk and grow this finicky and late-ripening grape on their prime sites are rewarded with wines having rich tannic structure, hauntingly beautiful aromas and decades of potential aging.
Tucked away in the Langhe between the cities of Alba and Asti, along the Tanaro River, rest three small villages producing a unique and world-renowned wine.  These three townships, Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso, are the home to the Barbaresco DOCG.  Barbaresco wine was first recorded in the beginning of the 14th century.  Until the 19th century, Barbaresco wines were vinified off-dry.  Wine-makers then discovered that by using temperature control to keep the wine warmed during the winter fermentation, they could ferment it completely dry.  Today, Nebbiolo is the only variety currently permitted in the Barbaresco DOCG, which was first delineated as a DOC in 1966 and elevated to DOCG in 1980.
Vineyards are planted along the pre-alpine hills that surround the villages.  The region once lay under an inland sea that was turned into steep hills when the continental plates collided.  The soil varies, but is predominately composed of limestone marl and clay.  The Barbareso climate is warmer, drier and milder than the nearby region of Barolo.  This allows the Nebbiolo grapes to generally ripen earlier, with slightly less tannin, than in Barolo.
The grapes are hand-picked from the steep vineyards.  Once fermented, the wines spend at least two years aging, with at least one year in wood.  The Riserva designation requires two additional years of aging.  The DOCG requires 12.5% minimum alcohol.  Barbaresco is an age-worthy wine and most drink best at least 10 years after the harvest.  The wine is more feminine in style than Barolo, yet no less note-worthy.  The wine is spicy, lingering, richly perfumed and of refined elegance.  Notes of dried flowers, red berries, white truffles and warm spices are apparent.
In the Piedmontese style, the wine is often drunk with richly flavored meats such as game or roasts alongside polenta.  Alternatively, enjoy it with the rich Italian Fonduta (fondue) of cheese, milk and egg yolks.  Accent these dishes with white truffle to complement the earthy mushroom notes from the wine.  Barbaresco is broadly compatible with all meats, most cheeses, and much of the vegetable world too.  Take home one of our Barbaresco wines and try it for yourself!
Featured Barbaresco Wines – Here Now:
Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili 2005 1.5L ($399.95) $319.00 special, 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 95 points: “Giacosa’s 2005 Barbaresco Asili is noticeably rounder, sweeter and denser than the Santo Stefano. It shows remarkable balance and harmony in an incredibly pure, graceful style. The tannins are so finessed and elegant it is hard to actually perceive them on the palate. Here too, the wine shows awesome inner balance and poise. Sweet raspberries, flowers, roses and spices are just some of the nuances that emerge from this incredibly delicious, promising Barbaresco. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2025.” WA
Ca Del Baio Barbaresco Asili 2009 1.5L ($89.95) $69.00 special, 32 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points: “The 2009 Barbaresco Asili caresses the palate with soft, open fruit and a resonant personality that is quite striking. The essence of red berries, rose petals and sweet spices blossom in the glass. This is an especially vibrant style for the year, with excellent freshness, color and balance. Firm tannins support a highly attractive, delineated finish. The 2009 should be an absolute beauty in another few years, once the tannins soften. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024. I was deeply impressed with the wines I tasted from Ca’del Baio this year. As always, the house style favors a juicy, fruit-forward expression of Nebbiolo.” WA


Ca Del Baio Barbaresco Asili 2010 ($39.95) $31.90 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 95 points: “The 2010 Barbaresco Asili is an exciting, top-notch achievement that shows extreme class and sophistication. Polished mineral tones are fleshed out by cassis, wild berry, chopped mint and freshly milled white pepper. The wine is long and smooth on the finish, with a finely detailed or etched quality to the tannins. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2028. Giulio Grasso’s family entered the wine business “late,” as he tells it, because his male ancestors were soldiers in the various World Wars. Only after the turmoil in Europe settled, in the mid 1950s, did the family start to bottle wine. The estate’s most precious vineyard, the three hectares they own in the Asili cru, was a wedding dowry from Giulio’s grandmother (from Barbaresco) to his grandfather (from Treiso). Today, the family owns 25 hectares including the Valgrande and Marcarini crus in Treiso and the Asili and Pora crus in Barbaresco. Giulio’s father, Ernesto, farms the vineyards today at age 91.The Ca’ del Baio line-up is extremely impressive and delightful. These are some of the best wines from Barbaresco” WA
Ca Del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2010 ($37.95) $29.00 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 94 points: “Of course, the Nebbiolos are nothing to sneeze at. The 2010 Barbaresco Valgrande, on the other hand, delivers a heightened sense of elegance and feminine restraint. The bouquet is redolent of cola, tar, blue flower, rosehip with faint hints of exotic spice. The tight grip of the tannins–firm without being astringent–gives this wine the attributes needed for longer cellar time. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2026″ WA
Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco 2008 ($39.95) $33.00 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 92 points: “The 2008 Barbaresco comes across as quite elegant and Burgundian in this vintage. Sweet dark cherries, spices, mint and crushed flowers are some of the notes that take shape in the glass in this, bright, focused Barbaresco. The 2008 possesses terrific energy and polish from start to finish. This is a beautifully balanced wine from Cantina del Pino. The 2008 was made 50% from an east facing parcel of Ovello in the Morassino district. The other 50% of the fruit was sourced from the west-facing part of Ovello, plus Vacca’s smaller holdings in Starderi, Gallina and Albesani. How’s that for a superb quartet of vineyards? Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028.” WA
Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco 2009 ($39.95) $33.00 special, 23 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 91 points: “The 2009 Barbaresco wraps around the palate with soft, caressing fruit. This juicy, up-front Barbaresco is an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years. Renato Vacca has succeeded in giving his Barbaresco considerable finesse without losing the essential Nebbiolo tannins and overall structure. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024. Proprietor Renato Vacca continues to show he has the magic touch. I would be thrilled to drink any of these magnificent wines. Vacca has decided to release his 2009 single-vineyard Barbareschi before the 2008s, as he feels those wines need another year in bottle. I hope readers take the time to check out these fabulous wines. Along with Sottimano, Gaja, Pelissero and a handful of others, Cantina del Pino is one of the very few estates in Barbaresco where every single wine is fabulous” AG


Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco Albesani 2009 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 12 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points: “The picture of harmony, this red exudes cherry and floral aromas, with plenty of berry, tobacco and balsamic flavors. Balanced and firm, with a lingering aftertaste of spice and mineral. Accessible now, yet will improve. Best from 2014 through 2025″ WS
Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco Ovello 2006 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 4 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points: “The 2006 Barbaresco Ovello, from one of the village’s cooler microclimates, is lighter in color and also a touch more ethereal than the decidedly virile Albesani. Dried flowers, cherries, mint and minerals are just some of the nuances that are woven into the fabric of this finessed, elegant Barbaresco. The Ovello gains considerable volume in the glass, showing exceptional balance and tons of class, but it remains a slightly feminine Ovello with less of the sheer power found in the finest years. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2026.” WA
Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco Ovello 2009 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 5 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93+ points: “The estate’s 2009 Barbaresco Ovello is gorgeous, even if some of the vineyard signatures are obscured by the year. In exchange, though, the 2009 will drink well relatively young. Rich, fleshy and seductive for a wine of this site, the 2009 possesses terrific balance and plenty of harmony. Juicy red berries, flowers, mint and crushed rocks are layered into the expressive, broad-shouldered finish. This is going to be a fascinating wine to follow. Barbareschi from Ovello are notoriously slow out of the gates, and while that doesn’t appear to be the case here, it is also plausible that the wine is only showing a fraction of its ultimate potential. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.” WA
Castello Di Verduno Barbaresco Rabaja 1997 3 Liter ($399.95) $369.00 special, 1 bottle available
“Mario Andrion represents a new generation of Langhe winemakers who resist the rigid traditional/modern categorization that has dogged Barolo and Barbaresco for decades. Like many of his contemporaries, he is willing to use advances in viticulture and vinification to produce wines that vibrantly express varietal character and reflect the top quality of the estate’s vineyard sites while requiring minimal technical intervention. Castello di Verduno’s classic Barbaresco is from one of the zone’s most famous and coveted vineyards, Rabaja, and is known for it’s longevity and it’s distinct earthiness. Low-yields and minimalist intervention in the cellar create a traditional-style Barbaresco with impressive aging potential and classic tar and rose petal flavors.”
Elvio Cogno Barbaresco Bordini 2008 ($47.95) $35.00 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 93 points: “The 2008 Barbaresco Bordini is much more focused and inward than the 2007. Dark red cherries, plums, licorice, mint and minerals are some of the notes that take shape in the glass. The 2008 impresses for its cut and sheer energy. It is a very classic Barbaresco that could use another few years in bottle. Tar, mint and licorice are nicely layered into the finessed finish. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2023.” WA
Elvio Tintero Barbaresco 2008 ($24.95) $21.90 special, 34 bottles available 
A great buy for Nebbiolo on a budget. Has plenty of Barbaresco character, in a delicate expression.
Fontanabianca Barbaresco Sori Burdin 2004 ($64.95) $49.00 special, 36 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points: “I remember visiting Fontanabianca and proprietor Aldo Pola as his 2004 Barbarescos were fermenting right after the harvest. The perfumes emanating from the winery were heavenly. Pola’s 2004 Barbaresco Sori Burdin has turned out beautifully. It is a big, authoritative Barbaresco loaded with super-ripe red fruit, macerated cherries, menthol, minerals, flowers and spices. Endowed with notable weight and a layered texture, it offers outstanding concentration and fine, well-integrated tannins. This is a terrific effort from Fontanabianca. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019.” WA
Franco Serra Barbaresco 2008 ($24.95) $19.00 special, 17 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points: “This is rich and deeply scented, with notes of cherry and licorice and hints of flowers. Round on the palate, with a bright structure and refined tannins. Should come around soon. Best from 2014 through 2025″ WS


Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano 2005 ($199.95) $119.00 special, 9 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points: “The 2005 Barbaresco Santo Stefano is striking in its beauty. This firm, structured wine bursts from the glass with layers of dark red fruit, spices, flowers and menthol. Medium in body, the wine possesses notable inner beauty in a transparent, almost weightless style. There is superb pedigree here, not to mention tons of class. Once again the Santo Stefano bottling delivers the goods. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2025.” WA
Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano 2007 ($229.95) $189.00 special, 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 95 points: “The 2007 Barbaresco Santo Stefano is a gorgeous wine that combines element of ripeness, structure and the intense spiciness that makes the best wines from the Santo Stefano vineyard so compelling. Floral, high-toned notes appear on the silky finish, rounding out this highly promising wine. Gorgeous textural elegance and balance are the hallmarks of the 2007 Santo Stefano.” WA
Castello di Neive Barbaresco Albesani Santo Stefano 2007 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 36 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points: “The 2007 Barbaresco Albesani Santo Stefano shows the weight and richness that is typical of this south-facing site in Neive. A rich fabric of dark fruit, fresh roses, new leather and menthol completely cover the palate. The Santo Stefano is impeccable in its generous, enveloping fruit. The intensity and sheer depth of the fruit manages to virtually bury the tannins, but they are there. As delicious as this is today, it will be even better in a few years- time. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.” WA
Castello di Neive Barbaresco Albesani Santo Stefano 2009 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 30 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points: “The 2009 Barbaresco Albesani Santo Stefano unfurls on the palate with layers of highly expressive dark fruit. Hints of menthol, smoke, incense, leather and tobacco appear later, adding considerable depth and complexity. A plush, open finish rounds things out in style. Though fresher than the straight bottling, the Santo Stefano is also remarkably open today. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2024.” WA
Paitin Pasquero Sori Paitin Barbaresco 2006 ($49.95) $37.00 special, 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 91 points: “The 2006 Barbaresco Sori’ Paitin flows onto the palate in a masculine expression of dried cherries, autumn leaves, tobacco, roasted coffee beans, licorice and leather. The wine possesses notable concentration and depth, but the aromas are slightly forward. The former suggests the wine will age gracefully on its fruit, the latter that it will develop rather quickly. My best guess is that the Barbaresco will drink well for a number of years even if it won’t necessarily improve. Readers who enjoy the firm style of Barbaresco typical of this part of Neive will find much to admire here. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2021.” WA
Pio Cesare Barbaresco Il Bricco 2000 ($119.95) $99.00 special, 2 bottles available
Wine Spectator 94 points: “Rich and ripe Barbaresco with loads of velvety tannins, toasted oak and ripe fruit. Full-bodied, round and unctuous. Hard to resist now but will age very well indeed. Best after 2006. 520 cases made.” WS
Prunotto Barbaresco 2004 ($49.95) $39.00 special, 1 bottle available      
Wine Advocate 91 points: “The 2004 Barbaresco is a very pretty, layered wine. Vibrant and fresh on the palate, it offers sweet dark fruit, menthol and spices with outstanding length and terrific harmony. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2019.” WA


Prunotto Barbaresco Bric Turot 2004 ($69.95) $59.00 special, 1 bottle available      
Stephen Tanzer 92(+?) points: “Dark red. Reticent but pure aromas of dark cherry, spicy berries and licorice, with complicating notes of marzipan and underbrush. Fat and full but more backward than the basic bottling, with a strong spice of acids and tannins currently dominating the vibrant fruit and floral flavors. Like the basic Barbaresco, this is a very sappy, primary style, but this one is even more tighly coiled today. Offers terrific potential. This was aged in a combination of botti and second use barriques.” ST
Punset Barbaresco Riserva 2006 ($49.95) $39.00 special, 20 bottles available      
Wine Spectator 93 points: “Though dense tannins are still present, this is beginning to show the haunting floral essence of mature Nebbiolo. Light-footed, if muscular, with a long licorice and spice aftertaste. Drink now through 2024. 250 cases made.” WS
Roagna Barbaresco Asili 2006 ($119.95) $99.00 special, 5 bottles available     
Wine Advocate 94+ points: “The 2006 Barbaresco Asili is stunning. Silky Asili tannins frame a deeply expressive core of red berries, flowers, spices and anise, all of which come together beautifully in this sumptuous, layered Barbaresco. This will be a fascinating wine to follow, especially since it was only bottled in August, 2011. Today it is racy, sexy and flat-out compelling, but it is young and very primary. This is textbook Asili given a little more richness through low yields. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026.” WA


Gaja Barbaresco 2010 ($219.95) $189.00 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
PRE-ARRIVAL ETA MAY 2014 Wine Advocate 94 points: “Smack from the start, the 2010 Barbaresco shows full-on Gajissimo personality with irresistible opulence and intensity, magically contrasted against remarkable smoothness and finesse. Everyone wants to know his secret. The wine delivers seductively rich concentration and integrated oak that is offset by a delicate portfolio of chiseled mineral, dried berry fruit, Spanish cedar, crushed herb, anisette and blue flower. Fruit is sourced from 14 vineyards in Barbaresco. It already leaves a mark, but will reward those who wait. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2028.” WA
And 9 of our 30 wines from the eponymous Produttori del Barbaresco:
In 1958, the wine cooperative Produttori del Barbaresco was founded to help pool the resources of struggling Nebbiolo grape growers around the village of Barbaresco.  These nineteen small producers grew to over fifty.  They produce a single Barbaresco DOCG and, depending upon the quality of the vintage, nine Cru Barbaresco Risera.  Of these single crus, the clays soils in the Ovello, Montefico and Montestefano vineyards gives the wines a rich earthy and meaty flavor.  Pajé and Moccagatta are intense and elegant and Rio Sordo has lush black cherry and earthy truffle notes.  The three greatest sites, Asili, Rabajà, Pora, are noted for their complexity.
Produttori Del Barbaresco Asili 2007 ($69.95) $59.00 special, 16 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points: “The 2007 Barbaresco Riserva Asili is a huge wine. In some ways it reminds me of the 2004 because of its silkiness, but the 2007 is a richer wine with more weight, glycerin and body. Sweet cherries, flowers, hard candy and spices are woven together beautifully through to the plush, enveloping finish. Despite the power and richness there is plenty of Asili character in the glass. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2032.” AG
Produttori Del Barbaresco Montefico 2007 ($59.95) $47.00 special, 30 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points: “The 2007 Barbaresco Riserva Montefico is all about energy and sheer power. The Montefico is quite virile, even in this vintage, with a certain austerity in the tannin that will require time in bottle to soften. Dark red fruit, leather, anise and spices are some of the notes that wrap around the insistent, pointed finish. There is plenty of nuance here, but not the early appeal of the year. This is a great showing, but readers will need to be patient. Anticipated maturity: 2017- 2029.” WA
Produttori Del Barbaresco Montestefano 2008 ($79.95) $59.00 special, 3+ cases available
Produttori Del Barbaresco Montestefano 2008 1.5L ($139.95) $119.00 special, 14 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 95+ points: “The 2008 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano is exquisite and harmonious from start to finish. Among the more structured 2008s, the Montestefano is the wine that most hides its tannin, as the fruit is intensely perfumed, rich and totally seductive. Today the Montestefano provides the illusion of being relatively accessible, but it is virtually certain to shut down in bottle. The 2008 boasts striking aromatics, seemingly endless layers of fruit and power to burn. Readers can think of the Montestefano as a synthesis of Montefico, Ovello and Rabaja. Not bad, to say the least. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2048.” AG
Produttori Del Barbaresco Muncagota 2007 ($59.95) $44.00 special, 22 bottles available 
Wine Spectator 93 points: “A whiff of tomato and vegetal aromas leads off, with notes of rose and plum. This is a big red, broad and rangy, settling into plum and cherry flavors that linger on the long, spicy finish. There’s a fine core of sweet fruit, and this changes a lot with air. Best from 2015 through 2028.” WS
Produttori Del Barbaresco Ovello 2008 ($69.95) $59.00 special, 3+ cases available
Produttori Del Barbaresco Ovello 2008 1.5L ($139.95) $119.00 special, 29 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95+ points: “The Produttori’s 2008 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello is a reference point wine for the village, even if, in truth, Ovello is a fairly diverse zone with many exposures. Firm, steely tannins support a core of expressive fruit in this vibrant, energetic Barbaresco. The 2008 is going to require considerable patience, but it is striking, even today. Sweet floral notes reappear on the vivid, utterly breathtaking finish, adding lift, precision and vibrancy. This is a stunning wine from the Produttori. The style is built on tension, energy and focus; in other words, all the qualities Ovello is known for. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2048.” WA
Produttori Del Barbaresco Paje 2007 ($59.95) $44.00 special, 25 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points: “The 2007 Barbaresco Riserva Paje comes across as a bit simple in this vintage. It shows good fleshiness and lovely inner sweetness in a fairly approachable style. I don’t see the pedigree of the finest 2007 Riservas here. In exchange, though, readers will find a highly attractive, forward Barbaresco that will drink well right out of the gate. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022.” WA


Produttori Del Barbaresco Pora 2004 ($59.95) $47.00 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 91 points: “The 2004 Pora is a dense, chewy offering loaded with ripe red cherries, licorice, tar and sweet wild herbs. The wine’s sheer concentration and power are impressive but today the tannins seem to lack the extra level of elegance that characterizes the best wines in this vintage. Despite its slightly rustic personality, this medium to full bodied wine delivers plenty of drinking pleasure in an intense style. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2024.” WA
Produttori Del Barbaresco Rio Sordo 2005 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 15 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points: “Chocolate and ripe plum aromas verge on overripe. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and lots of richness. This is a powerful young wine. Makes your mouth pucker. Best after 2012.” WS