2006 Produttori del Barbaresco: an important clarification from Aldo Vacca

From the “department of keeping the world safe for Italian wine”…

aldo vacca

Above: I tasted with winemaker Aldo Vacca at Produttori del Barbaresco in March 2010. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am one of the wineries hugest fans.

Reader Ken wrote me a private message recently, asking if I’d seen an email blast from a New York retailer in which the author claimed that there had been two bottlings of Produttori del Barbaresco classic Barbaresco 2006 — one made before the decision not to bottles the 06 crus (and thus not including the single-vineyard juice) and one made after the decision not to bottle the 06 crus (and thus containing the higher-quality single-vineyard juice).

“If there has, in fact, been a second release that now has included the single-vineyard grapes,” he asked plaintively, “how on earth can anyone distinguish the bottles?

“I’ve cut and pasted a recent e-mail from [a highly respected New York retailer] and highlighted the statement about a second release. I’ve collected a ton of the blended 05′s for cellaring and have only a couple of the blended 06s, which got initially reviewed (by fellow Cellar Trackers) as a ‘drink early.’”

    The news, if you haven’t heard it: for the 2006 vintage the Produttori have decided not to bottle any of their single-vineyard Barbaresco Riservas. Aldo Vacca, manager of the Produttori, describes this [SEE THIS POST] as a business decision that was not based on the very high quality of the wines, but instead because there have been so many strong vintages in a row (basically 2004-2009) that they were concerned that there would be too much wine on the market. The wines were vinified and aged separately as per their normal practice; following an initial release of the 2006 Barbaresco (which was a terrific bottle at the time), all of the Riservas have now been blended together to produce just one wine.

Yesterday afternoon I wrote to Aldo, who promptly responded with the following message:

    What happened is that we took the final decision not to produce the 2006 S[ingle]V[ineyard] one year later than usual, in the spring of 2009. At that point the first bottling of 2006 was already done so no SV in the first bottling. However this is the bottling that we release every year in Italy in the early Fall, so it is largely used for domestic market.

    Second bottling was done in July and then a third bottling in the Fall. These two bottlings were a blend of SV juice and standard Barbaresco juice in very similar %. The wine you can buy in the States now is from the 2nd bottling and later this year will be from the 3rd, so very similar indeed.

So the bottom line is that there was indeed two bottlings, one without the crus and one with the crus (the former sold in Italy, the latter available in the U.S.). But if you’re buying the wine in the U.S., you’re getting wines that include the crus.

To this I would add that 2006 is not a forgettable vintage, as some of Ken’s Cellar Tracker buddies might insist. In fact, it was a good-to-great vintage (05 very-good-to-great, 07 FANTASTIC). IMHO 06 is best to drink 2011-2016 and beyond (but keep in mind that I’m a believer that these wines are to be drunk younger than most American fetishizers of old wine would tell you).

12 Responses to 2006 Produttori del Barbaresco: an important clarification from Aldo Vacca

  1. Levi Dalton says:

    That’s an interesting comment that you’re “a believer that these wines are to be drunk younger than most American fetishizers of old wine would tell you.”

    Would you mind expanding on that a bit, please?

  2. Do Bianchi says:

    hey Levi, great to see you here. I will comment back at you over the weekend… gotta run now… more shortly… much to say on that point… and hey, thanks again for the other night… there’s a post in the pike…

  3. Kyle says:

    I think 2006 is head and shoulders above 2005, which was weaker — cool and a lot of rain. I’m not so certain about the 2007. Some great but it’s not all gold.

  4. Ed McCarthy says:

    Jeremy, you rate the ’05 too highly. I agree with Kyle; it’s an average-to-good vintage at best. Also, you’re too high on the ’07. Having just returned from Piedmont and tasted all vintages, this is how I rate the last five:

    2004: super; probably better than 2001 on the level with 1999.
    2006: very good, but not great; a bit monothitic
    2007: good, precocious; too warm to be great
    2009: again, too warm (like 1997, 2000); not long-lasting
    2005: average to good; weathe wasn’t so great

    Ed McCarthy

  5. charlesscicolone says:

    I have a problem with all of this: Wines made for the Italian market, wines made for the American market and are there other wines for other markets.One different wine and two that are the same. When the vintage is not good they always tell you it should be drunk young, they want you to drink the wine young so that you will buy more wine- sounds like doubble talk to me- I agree with Ed on his ratings

  6. Do Bianchi says:

    @Levi as much as I love old vintages of these wines (you know better than anyone, after our excellent dinner the other night!), I do think that in the U.S. we tend to fetishize those bottles. I’m talking about the people who scream “infanticide!” on e-Bob and similar fora when anyone opens a bottle less than 20 years old. In Italy, there’s no question that they drink their Nebbiolo at 10-12 years out. One of these days I’m going to translate Martinelli’s superb tome on “Barolo and how I taste it”: I think it’s a good indicator of how a great Barolista, for example, appreciates old, old wine but favors them with 10 years +. And ultimately I think it’s important, when drinking these wines, to be at least conscious of how they are perceived and “applied” in the country where they are made.

    @Ed I haven’t tasted enough 2006 to make a truly informed opinion and so I appreciate your expert insight (and it’s always great to see you here). As the saying goes, ubi major, minor cessat. I do think that 2007 — not for everyone but for Produttori del Barbaresco — has great potential. Aldo told me that he feels its the greatest vintage of his lifetime (again, not for everyone, but for his growers) and gauging from the Langhe Nebbiolo, I’m excited to taste the Barbaresco.

    @Kyle I agree, especially after tasting Giacosa’s 07s, some great but not all gold… Thanks for stopping by!

    @Charles you bring up a truly important point and an ugly reality that we do have to face: even the most traditionalist of producers, like Produttori del Barbaresco, bottles wines intended for American audiences and palates… In this case, maybe the Americans got the better wines… I appreciate Aldo’s honesty in allowing me to publish what he wrote. And again, as per Ed, I defer to both you and him when it comes to evaluating these vintages. Your palates have never steered me wrong!

    @Levi I’d love to hear your vintage notes on these wines and I do think that Produttori del Barbaresco is an interesting example of how vintage can express itself so differently among producers — depending on style and growing sites.

    Thanks to all for such interesting comments and insights!

    • aldo vacca says:

      Hi Jeremy, Hi Charles,
      just a quick note: we at Produttori Barbaresco never bottle wines specifically for one market or another. We do not look for specific taste for specific market and all that, we just make the wine at the best of our knoweldge in one very define style. if we do more than one bottling we try to have a similar blend in all bottling.
      We do release our new vintage in the Fall in Italy and usually, because of logistic of the market and because we like to give some more bottle aging where we can, the next January in most export market. So it is usually the case that the first bottling is mainly sold in Italy while the second bottling (which is also larger in size) goes to export and Italy as well: it is just a matter of timing not of deciding which market gets what. Normally this will not make any difference anyway because the two bottling would be very similar. The one thing that happened with the 2006 vintage was the late decision of not bottling the SV. If we had took the decision earlier,as we usually do, all bottling would have been the same.

  7. bags says:

    It’s not my very, very limited experience that later bottlings are necessarily more Americanized in taste generally. I suspect it depends on the grape, vintage, etc., so that release variation might be a bit more random than intended.

    I’m wondering whether later Produttori bottlings are really “intended” for a different palate. I am fully ignorant of the logistics of shipping, but I would ^guess^ that a summer bottling (the initial bottling) in Italy is safest transported locally, while fall bottlings can be safely shipped abroad, when it’s cooler. Is that a reasonable assumption to make of such an honorable enterprise?

  8. [...] I wanted to draw your attention to a comment made by winemaker Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco, made the other day here at Do Bianchi. He was commenting in response to Charles Scicolone, who had asked plaintively whether or not Produttori del Barbaresco typically made different bottlings destined for its domestic and international markets (the thread appeared in a post on the winery’s decision not to bottle its single-vineyard wines for the 2006 vintage). [...]

  9. [...] I wanted to draw your attention to a comment made by winemaker Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco, posted the other day here at Do Bianchi. He was commenting in response to Charles Scicolone, who had asked plaintively whether or not Produttori del Barbaresco typically executed different bottlings destined for its domestic and international markets (the thread appeared in a post on the winery’s decision not to bottle its single-vineyard wines for the 2006 vintage). [...]

  10. vittorio says:

    I am finding a lot of the 2006 Barbaresco here in my favorite enoteca here in Italy. So, how do I know if it was the first bottling that was to be sold here or if it is either the second or third bottling that was distributed to the US and to us here?

    The store has no idea when it came in. It is dusty like everything else in the store so that is no clue.

    Is there some mark on the label? Perhaps the number of the tax stamp?

    Aiuto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. [...] là qu’entre en jeu cette histoire de lots, et le flou artistique qui l’entoure. La décision de ne pas produire ces cuvées est arrivée très tard dans le processus, alors que le premier lot était déjà embouteillé. Le [...]

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