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One hundred years ago my ex and I owned a house in the Loire Valley (3km down the road from the Puzelats at the Clos Tue Boeuf); we were just getting into wine, and when a neighbor suggested we buy 20-liter plastic containers to take to a local winery it sounded like a great idea. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting, tasting, and filling the containers from a gas pump nozzle. Back home we bottled the wine in a troop of recycled bottles, with a bag of corks from the hardware store. The wine was cheerful, and certainly cheap – I have no idea if it was any good at all, but we did have some raucous dinner parties. I’ve always wished that we could offer a similar service from barrel at the shop, but it’s definitely not permitted in New York. It remains quite common practice in Europe; a surprising number of producers sell in bulk, even at some pretty fancy addresses. Thus it’s not a big surprise to come across a stash of home-bottled Produttori del Barbaresco. I’m sure that the Produttori no longer sell in bulk, but back in the day it was a typical way to obtain some top-quality wine at a relative bargain. The big question: are the wines as good as they should be? They come to us from a fine Piemontese cellar that we’ve bought a lot of wine from in the past (including Produttori bottled at the winery). Forty years ago the technological differences between winery and home bottling were not as great as they are now, so I was optimistic.
The happy report, after tasting the 1978 and the 1982, is that the wines are excellent.
Both wines had a lot of sediment - a very good sign for an old Barbaresco. And the color of both was correct: brick-like, even a little brown, and becoming more vibrant and lively after some time open. Aromatically they also showed as hoped-for, with plenty of forest and truffley notes, balsalm, and orange peel. From great vintages, the 1978 is a bit more muscular, the 1982 a more elegant wine. They showed surprisingly well on decanting, but as expected both improved considerably over the next 6 hours. The ultimate test would be to try the Produttori’s versions side-by-side with the home bottlings; unfortunately I didn’t have that option, but I think it would be a reasonably close contest. Jamie Wolff
If you bought wine in bulk to bottle at home, the Produttori would also give you a handful of labels. In this group some labels were designated as: "Imbottigliato dal cliente", while others are standard Produttori labels.
Recylcled bottles were used, so they are a variety of shape, and include old embossed Borgogno and Giacomo Conterno bottles. In the mix there are also a few one-liter bottles that are priced the same as the .750s like the 1979s below - you might get lucky in that regard.
1974 was a sleeper vintage for the Produttori, and it has definitely impressed on two separate occasions while tasting vertical flights of the cooperative's normale. Ripe red and black cherry fruit flavors mingle with secondary notes of balsamic, dark chocolate, and spaded earth. The medium body and robustness is supported by a quite lithe texture (1/17/17). Jonas Mendoza
Brambly black cherry with undertones of black raisin and sweet dirt. Quite developed with secondary/tertiary notes of hoisin, dried mushroom, and dried meat. After 40 years, it still has plenty of structure and only started to reveal itself after being double-decanted eight hours earlier (1/17/17)! Jonas Mendoza
I couldn't help but make the comparison initially to older Chianti, with flavors of dried red cherry and dried herbs. As the evening progressed, the wine became richer and weightier with darker fruit notes of black raspberry and brandied cherry with intensity similar to the blockbuster normale bottlings of 1971 and 1978. (1/17/17). Jonas Mendoza
The 1970 Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta from one of the my favorite Piedmont producers is showing beautifully with a compelling blend of earthy old Nebbiolo aromas, resolved tannins, and still lively fruit. The tension between the sweet and savory on the nose is beguiling, while the palate has evolved to the point where the fruit and earthy flavors are supported by the structure, rather than dominated by it. Given time to blossom (we strongly advocate double decanting after lunch for dinner service) this is the perfect partner for braised meat with polenta or risotto with truffles. This is a lovely wine and a truly special treat for lovers of aged Nebbiolo. (Tasted 2/25/16) John McIlwain