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Over the past 10 years I have tasted a lot of wine from the Produttori del Barbaresco, going back to 1964, and I have yet to try a disappointing bottle. There is no other producer anywhere about whom I could make the same claim, and I’m including the so-called “bad” vintages in my assessment. At about 40,000 cases per year, the Produttori make more wine by multiples than my other favorites, but their quality is amazingly consistent.
1989 has been perhaps my favorite vintage in Piedmont since I started tasting it in the mid-90’s; some 1989s still seem very young, but they’ve always shown great balance, and they’ve always been wonderful to taste. By contrast, 1990 (which was more highly rated by the pundits back in the day; they’ve adjusted their scores since to reflect current opinion) was much hotter, with less contrast in temperatures between day and night, and thus a lot of 1990s are much riper in character, lower in apparent acidity, and are fuller-bodied than the 1989s. But in the last year I’ve tasted a few 1990s that were beginning to show well, shedding some of their opaque character to become more expressive and complex. Maybe - hopefully! – 1990 is better than I think. Here’s a chance to compare the two years: on Thursday, September 15th, at the Spotted Pig, we will taste ten of the Produttori del Barbaresco 1989 and 1990s: Barbaresco, and Riservas from Asili, Moccagatta, Montefico, Montestefano, and Rabaja. Dinner with wine, service, and tax is $225. Jamie Wolff
Black cherry and kirsch flavors are underlined by subtle hints of bresaola, dark chocolate, and fresh earth. It's not a powerful vintage, but nevertheless impresses with its lightness, litheness, and elegance (2/28/16). 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
Medium ruby color with hints of brick on rim. Black cherry and black tea flavors with prominent notes of hoisin and balsamic. Quite along its development, but still has firm tannins and resonant acidity (1/17/17). Jonas Mendoza
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