Posts Tagged ‘Langhe’

Crushing grapes on the Produttori high street

Via Torino in Barbaresco village is just a short 300-metre street. Yet it houses two powerhouse wineries in Produttori del Barbaresco at one end, and Gaja in the middle.

The Produttori de Barbaresco fascinates me with its successes. It controls 15% of the DOCG, and more single crus, nine, than any other owner in the three villages; Treiso, Nieve or Barbaresco, which constitute the wine denomination Barbaresco.

Prices of this Italian wine category keep firming so let’s discover why.

The Produttori del Barbaresco, a co-operative, consists of 54 member farmers, is successful and as Uncorked’s visit was on the first day of the 2016 harvest, we met a few of them as they lined their tractors in the street to deliver grapes.

Our Italy wine tours take guests through the hills of Piedmont offering introduction-only visits to wineries, only some open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email

Produttori growers on the charge to deliver nebbiolo – Day 1 harvest 2016 on Uncorked and Cultivated’s visit to Barbaresco village.

But Barbaresco (the wine) and Produttori are all about a great drink, made from the thick skinned, leathery actually, nebbiolo grape. It’s the street hero.

Harvested nebbiolo-10 kg crates here

Harvested nebbiolo-10 kg crates here

Drinkers in the know come from all over the world to see this wine town perched on the Barbaresco hill alongside its tower, built there since the Middle Ages to spy on visitors, and past insurgents. Note the tower on their label.

Uncorked’s tours take you where the real taste action is, and on this day, we meet the Produttori board chief, and head winemaker, an affable, historically-knowledgeable Aldo Vacca.

Aldo Vacca CEO & Author

Produttori’s Aldo Vacca CEO-Author


The reason for nebbiolo addiction is simple for this Master of Wine to digest. The flavours of this grape persist in your mouth, they are subtle and never simple or capable of drowning your food. Nebbiolo is light bodied, brisk in tannin and ever present in acidity.

The palate can be extended, not dulled as overt wine fruit jam does from warmer climes, then lead you on to the enjoyment of savoury notes.

Your dinner is not sweet but savoury after all? This is wine pairing. Juicy meats or charred beef or north African spice for example. Food savouriness + flavours which tread lightly. Yum.


PDB Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 Always the budget option to get into nebbiolo for your first time, an easy drink made from younger vines in grower vineyards. Sold earlier as a non-aging style.

PDB Barbaresco 2013 The new vintage just out for sale now. The real deal wine of the Produttori, a blend of all growers’ grapes not including single vineyard crus (the nine).

Barbaresco 2013

Produttori Barbaresco 2013

PDB Barbaresco 2012 The vintage just gone, very lithe and flavoursome, capable of 5-7 years easy aging to plateau its drinking.

Barbaresco 2012

Produttori Barbaresco 2012

PDB Barbaresco 2011 A vintage showing some aged character so well advanced now. A good example for the visitors to “get” how nebbiolo projects as it ages.

PDB Rabaja Riserva 2009 These are regarded as the reserves of Produttori, and they overlap as families’ single vineyard crus, basically the best expression of the grape in a range of terroirs that occur, and are captured from the three village expanse which is DOCG Barbaresco.

Rabaja cru 2009

Produttori’s Rabaja cru 2009

Grower families Antona, Arossa, Casetta, Lembo, Lignana, Manzone, Rocca, Vacca, Vezza are in this blend this year.

The Produttori takes only nebbiolo grapes – no barbera, dolcetto or pelaverga, or no white variety. Just the top of the pinnacle red variety which keeps the quality and wine purity. Commendable.

DOCG – is the physical and hence geographical boundary of Barbaresco wine producers; production must lie inside or one cannot use the name; Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.

Certification of a Co-Operative

Certification of a Co-Operative


Nebbiolo (CN): You can join the club

Australia’s Uncorked and Cultivated Italy Wine and Food Tour recently visited Piedmont (province of Cuneo CN).

This is a piece of nebbiolo heaven. As this black, blushed, hard-skinned, slightly elliptical grape makes wines which assail the palate, yet when you “get it”, open a new range of flavours and textural sensations to wine drinkers.

This is the experience of my wine tour group. The enlightenment comes around the lunch or dining table as small drops of nebbiolo fall into large glasses as a procession of typical Piedmontese foods enters the spheres of food tourists’ minds.

Not all tastings were conducted over lunch/dinner and I made the exception when visiting the mountain at Barbaresco, the home of Angelo and Gaia Gaja.

We were also there to connect the dots between slinky Barbaresco and the more solid Barolo regional wines. Hmmm.

The morning was warm and hazy, Alba fogs and the morning collection of mist dusted the hillslopes.

The pre-lunch shimmer of this thin blue cloud over the patchwork of nebbiolo, barbera and dolcetto vineyards is a usual site. After then it vaporises.

Both Europe and this Langhe region remained in an unusual stretch of warm weather in early October.

It was 24 oC as we filed into the courtyard at Gaja at 10:30.

Gaja entry-understated

The greens of mid-summer have gone and the vine leaves morph to duller colours, the early harvest 2011 vendemmia is in, vines rest, the sandy-white clay is turning to dust with the low humidity and drying conditions.

At Gaja all the harvest is in before October 4, winery floor freshly-washed and no longer smelling of grape juice, fermentations are ceasing, and grape skins are sitting in contact with their newly-formed wines to undergo the slowly cooling maceration process (just sit in contact with skin and seed for 20-30 days before separation at the press).

This is modern nebbiolo with more tender tannins but equivalent ageability to the great 1958 wines and the two decades afterwards.

The tank farms are quiet and one would hardly know that each shiny vessel is filled to capacity.

Sonia Franco leads our tour. She fixes on the original family subterranean barrel rooms (with progressive additions) which hold both large Slovenian (2-5000 litres) and barriques (225) of French allier style. At tastings though this oak is barely detectable.

Our visitors also share in Gaja’s contemporary celebration of Spanish ancestry amongst the life and events which led to the 150th year of business two years ago.

The posters say so much about this family who aimed for greatness in their winelands along the river Tanaro.

Never take the display down Angelo!

And connected with the relationship between great older bottles of Gaja and the British fine wine auctioneer Sothebys.

Auction Times

In the glassy Castello tasting room Gaia Gaja presented four nebbiolo: two Barbaresco, two Barolo. A tasting with balance and thought to focus Australian palates.

Gaia Gaja-the writer

The Gaja Barbarescos DOCG 2008 (14.5%) and 2001 (14%): polarising tastes as 2008 is a ripe year with exuberant flavour, tastes of ripe tobacco which are easy to connect over, mouthfeel which rolls the savoury earth fruits with the ample acidity; 2001 is a vintage slowly unwinding, always showing backbone when I tasted in the past, never generous, taut, herbs, black fruits so not under-ripe; just a contrasting wine.

Gaia says ”2008 is our drinkable young Barbaresco. The summer was particularly dry and the flavour came easily. A beautiful vintage. It has perfume for aroma, the palate has layers, even soil character. The 2001 has transparent colour now, a colder year, mature but with a long tail of fruit, it is delicate”.

Gaja Barbaresco 2008 DOCG

Gaja Barbaresco 2001 DOCG

Gaia is gently expressing the soul of Barbaresco nebbiolo, its understated character, silkiness and therefore contrast with the same grape grown in Barolo when the texture becomes more emphatic. A discovery point for the touring tasters, particularly without food.

The Gaja Barolo-origin Conteisa 2007 (14.5%) and Sperss 1999(14%) are firstly fabulous single vineyard wines-from sites which speak of the character of nebbiolo, but the more sizeable wines, opposite to Barbaresco. Conteisa is being carried along by the product of global warming, so the fruit is expressed in every direction, roses, this brings about a lot more roundness on the palate, immediate acceptance. Sperss stands out like a beacon, power but maturing aromas bring out nebbiolo character, tar, tea, earth, drying chewy tannin mixed up with high complementary acidity.

Gaia says “Conteisa 2007 is a year for density of fruit, the expression is very apparent, then the palate gives softness. Firm wine but rounded from ripeness. For Sperss we like to think maturity comes 10-15 years from bottle date, so this wine is now just entering its maturing plateau, so it is now approachable”.

Gaja Conteisa 2007 Langhe Nebbiolo DOC

Gaja Sperss 1999 Langhe Nebbiolo DOC

Piedmontese nebbiolo looks to be on a golden run: after declared vintages in 1961, 1964, 1967, then 1970, 1971, 1974, 1978, 1979, followed by late 80s magic, 1988, 1989, 1990, again late 90s, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, then the big stretch, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, now 2011.

All that remains is how to conquer this high acid, high tannin, moderately light bodied, textural, savoury grape style that leaves enlightenment until the end of a visit to Gaja in Barbaresco.

Peter Scudamore-Smith is a Brisbane-based Master of Wine, winemaker, educator, tour leader

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