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A sampling of the 3 Barbaresco communes: Treiso, Neive, and Barbaresco. The Produttori del Barbaresco need no introduction, but for the record their unique history of overachievement was confirmed again last week*.
Like the Produttori, the Cantina Vignaioli Elvio Pertinace is a cooperative. Founded by a dozen members in 1973, they laid claim to the name of one of ancient Rome’s shortest-lived emperors, Pertinax, who apparently came from Treiso– thus the Roman party on the Cantina’s original label. Muddying the waters is the fact that Pertinace was a permitted alternate name for Barbaresco in the 1960’s, used in an attempt to sell wine when the market was very tough. Thus Pertinace appears on some other wines of the period, like the solid Fratelli Minuto “Pertinace Antico”. Over the years I’ve tasted a couple of very good Vignaioli wines; they don’t have the depth and rigor of the Produttori, but then: what does?
Parroco translates as parish priest: "Azienda San Michele is a winery founded in 1973 with three other winegrowers by the archpriest Don Giuseppe Cogno, parish priest of Neive". What I can't explain is why some labels that are virtually identical, like the above pair of 1997 Barbaresco Gallina, are labeled as "bottled by the Cantina del Parroco di Neive" and on the right "bottled by San Michele". Maybe the two entities split the production? Either way I've also had a couple of very good bottles from what we're currently calling the Parroco di Neive. Jamie Wolff
*At dinner last week we tasted more than a dozen Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Barbaresco’, going back as early as 1967. We were stunned by the richness of fruit, the suppleness of structure, and the fine aromatics that almost every bottle displayed – a testament to the cooperative’s history of high quality wines. With good storage and proper decanting, a bottle of Produttori will truly shine. David Hatzopoulos
Vintages tasted: 1967, ’78, ’85, ’86, ’89, ’96, ’98, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’14, ’15, ‘16
*I couldn’t attend the Produttori dinner last week, but I did get to taste the 1978, 2003, and 2008 before they left the shop for Brooklyn. The 1978 was terrible: you clearly wouldn’t like it – I will just have to keep any we might ever get. The 2003 was amazing considering how difficult that very hot year was – showing some extra ripeness, but still fresh and surprisingly charming. 2008 is really solid; young, but complex – a great wine to come. Jamie
Not the Riserva, but no slouch, this wine is still alive and drinking. It may even show a bit more fruit that the '67 Riservas. With proper handling (time to rest, and proper decanting) this is a real treat.