Commercial director Aldo Vacca noted that the release of this superb co-operative's 1999 Barbaresco crus was well received by the market following the Produttori's decision not to offer any cru bottlings in 1998. Both the '99 and '01 crops here were small and relatively late, noted Vacca, who told me that both of these harvests took place largely during the second week of October. The '99s are dense wines with powerful fruit, said Vacca, while the '01s are more elegant and lead with their sweetness. Vintage 2000 saw a crop level of around three tons per acre, which he described as "a regular size. "Incidentally, this co-operative recently purchased 20 new 35-hectoliter and 10 new 25-hectoliter casks made from Allier oak, and the 1999 vintage was the first one to make some use of these barrels. But the Produttori continues to use its traditional larger casks (of 55 and 75 hectoliters) from Slavonian oak. The Produttori wines continue to be some of the best available bargains in Barbaresco. Although the U. S. is the co-op's most important export market, accounting for about 15% of total production, fully 55% of the wines are sold in Italy. (Vias Imports, New York, NY)
($18; bottled two weeks prior to my visit) Medium red. Roasted raspberry and currant jam on the nose, along with a whiff of menthol. Superripe but fruity, with sound acids lifting the jammy red berry flavors and giving the wine good cut. Finishes with building tannins and a hint of dryness.
($18) Moderately saturated medium red. Strawberry and pepper aromas. Juicy, leanish and peppery; distinctly drier than the 2003. Finishes with tongue-drying tannins and juicy acids. This should make a versatile wine at the dinner table but really should be served with food. (The Produttori will offer only this nebbiolo and a single generic Barbaresco from the 2002 vintage.)
($32) Good medium red. Highly aromatic nose of strawberry and rose petal. Sweet, concentrated, focused and deep; this has lovely tension in the mouth. Finishes with firm, ripe tannins.
($32) Medium amber-tinged red. Complex, full-blown aromas of raspberry, currant, mocha and underbrush. Sweet and fat, with lower acidity than the 2001 but a juiciness nonetheless. Nicely fleshy Barbaresco that finishes with suave, sweet, palate-coating tannins.
($50) Moderately saturated medium red. Aroma of strawberry and raspberry jam. Sweet and dense, with sound acidity giving the wine good thrust. Nicely floral in the mouth. Finishes with firm, building tannins and good freshness.
($50) Palish medium red. At once more reticent and more roasted than the Po ra, with notes of red fruits, mocha and earth. Then juicy and fairly tight in the middle palate, with the wine currently dominated by its tannic structure. A bit youthfully dry on the end.
($50) Good medium red. Ripe aromas of strawberry and milk chocolate, with a whiff of resiny oak. Sweet but closed, with sound acidity and a subtle, gamey sweetness. Finishes with firm tannins and very good grip. This will need at least a few years of aging.
(from the next ridge behind Asili, with the same exposure to the sun) Medium red. Strawberry jam, mocha and a hint of tobacco on the nose. Sweeter and easier than the Asili; showing a silkier, fleshier texture today and harmonious acidity. Not quite as authoritative on the finish but nicely sweet and persistent.
($50) Medium red. Less fruity on the nose than some of the foregoing samples, hinting at dried flowers and oak. Then sweet and lush in the mouth, with fresh fruit firmed by solid acidity. Finishes distinctly hard-edged and backward, with some drying tannins giving the wine a slight sharpness. Still youthfully disjointed.
($50) Fresh medium red. Reticent but pure aromas of strawberry, violet and licorice. Fuller and sweeter than the preceding wines, with strong fruit and more depth of flavor. Nicely perfumed in the mouth and long on the aftertaste. Just a tad dry but the tannins are fine-grained.
($50) Medium color. Perfumed, expressive aromas of musky redcurrant liqueur, flowers and spices. Sweet, lush and chewy, but with a solid acid spine giving firmness to the wine's thick fruit. The longest yet of these 2000s, finishing with lovely clarity of fruit and noteworthy length. This cool, breezy site really enjoyed the heat of 2000, noted Vacca.
Good medium red. Initially closed nose opened with aeration to show smoky strawberry and some barrel notes. Rich and chewy if a bit youthfully sullen; not showing the verve or sweetness of the Ovello today. Finishes with substantial dusty, chewy tannins.
($50) Medium red. Superripe aromas of liqueur-like red fruits; shows a roasted quality that reminded me of a Southern Rhone wine. Rich, thick and liqueur-like, but not particularly sweet. Seems a bit warm with alcohol. A very powerful Barbaresco that tastes like a wine from grapes harvested very late.
($50) Medium red. Aromatically complex nose offers redcurrant, dried rose, spices, graphite and nutty oak. Sweet and floral in the mouth; a fairly friendly style of wine for the vintage. This has good grip and depth but comes across as a bit less primary and fruity than the 2000 version. Open, nutty finish.
($50) Medium red. Redcurrant and raspberry fruit aromas complicated by a note of tobacco. Fat and broad, with sweet redcurrant and raspberry flavors and sound supporting acidity. Finishes with dusty, slightly drying tannins and good length.
($50) Medium red. Perfumed, pure nose combines red berries and flowers. Sweet but subdued on the palate, with insinuating flavors of strawberry, tobacco and flowers. Not at all a weighty wine but there's lovely restrained sweetness here and harmonious acidity. Finishes with very good length and grip. The Produttori's Asili bottling has been a sentimental favorite of mine back to the 1978 and 1979 vintages, and I'm still enjoying my '82s.
Medium red. Rather closed on the nose, showing a good bit of oak as well as herbal and olive nuances. Then thick, superripe and impressively sweet in the mouth, but not especially fruity. Conveys an impression of roasted ripeness.
($50) Medium red. Showy nose offers mint, violet, herbs and nuts. Sweet, fleshy and rich, with lovely depth of flavor. Rather elegantly styled, supple Barbaresco, with harmonious acids leavening the wine's sweetness. This has the verve of the vintage's better examples. Finishes with well-buffered tannins and very good subtle length.
($50) Subdued but pure aromas of dried flowers and nutty oak. Round entry, then quite closed and uncompromisingly dry in the mid-palate, with a medicinal menthol quality. Combines Barolo-like flavors with the lighter body of Barbaresco. Sweeter and broader on the back end, finishing with big, chewy, youthfully tough tannins that call for five or six years of additional bottle aging.
($50) Good medium red. Expressive aromas of red fruits and mocha show an enticing autumnal quality. Lush and sweet on entry, then broad and fresh in the middle palate, with impressive palate presence and ripe, nicely integrated acidity. Rather wild flavors show very good lift but are currently shortened by building tannins. Still a bit youthfully disjointed but offers excellent potential.
Good medium red. Smoky, autumnal aromas of woodsmoke and roasted currant, with a hint of raisin. Very suave on entry, then broad and vinous in the middle, with sound acidity and a continuing note of woodsmoke. Not a particularly fruity style, but very Barbaresco. Finishes with strong tannins that hit the palate quite late.
($50) Good medium red. High-pitched, vibrant aromas of red berries and nutty oak. Sweet and plump but fresh, with nicely integrated acidity framing the berry and marzipan flavors. Very suave and showy today. Finishes with very fine tannins and noteworthy persistence.