Produttori del Barbaresco On Top Of their Game with Two New Releases – Tasting the Langhe Nebbiolo 2021 and Barbaresco 2019…

This famed co-operative in Piedmont dates back to 1894; forced to close in the 1920s because of fascist economic rules, it was regenerated and revived in 1958 by the village priest of Barbaresco who recognized that the only way the small properties could survive long term was by joining forces and combining their efforts.

Today the cooperative is comprised of 50 families and 100+ hectares of solely Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation, which amounts to almost 1/6th of the vineyards of the appellation. With village Barbaresco and the crus pushing such high prices, attention once again has reverted to some of the great Co-ops who traditionally produce some of the regions best value for money wines. Produttori del Barbaresco’s mission is clear – “Excellence in Simplicity”.

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2021, 14% Abv.

An impressively substantial wine yet again from Aldo Vacca and this world famous red wine Co-operative. The wine has a real presence showing complex aromatic layers of wild herbs, dried blood orange, botanicals, vermouth spices over pink musk, red cherry and candied red berry fruits. The palate is sumptuously muscular, plump and fleshy, but beautifully mellow and harmonious with a massive red and black berry fruit concentration, spicy herby tannins and an incredibly bold, vibrant acidity that once again underpins the fabulous depth of fruit and fleshy opulence. This is the real deal, a substantial Nebbiolo that simply sings in the glass. Bravo Aldo! I don’t know how you do it, year in and year out, but the Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2021 is an absolute winner. Drink on release and over 10 to 12 plus years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2019, 14% Abv.

High expectations for this new release coming from such a highly lauded vintage, the 2019 does not disappoint. Bold and punchy from start to finish, the nose boasts a multi-layered melange of lavender, violets, ripe red and black cherries, botte oak spice, potpourri and perfumed bathroom soaps. Seductive and muscular, the palate is as bold as it gets with a rich vein of textured mineral tannins over dense, sweet pithy berry fruits before the finish is overwhelmed by a chalky, spicy, stony minerality. This is a very serious piece of kit with high aspirations and serious intent that is sure to seduce serious Piedmont Nebbiolo collectors.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Wines available to the trade in the UK from Astrum Wines. Langhe Nebbiolo retails for circa £25-£26pb and the Barbaresco for circa £40pb Inc. Vat.

Giuseppe Cortese Profiles Some of Their New Releases Ahead of Nebbiolo Day…

One of the oldest and most famous producers in Barbaresco, Giuseppe Cortese makes some of the regions most classically proportioned wines from their eight hectares of vineyards, over four of which are located in the iconic Cru of Rabaja. Producing wines according to traditional methods but using the latest modern winemaking technology, Azienda Agricola Cortese has managed to bridge the gap between high quality and affordability.

With new vintages recently released and on their way to the UK, today I tasted a snap shot of their new wines with one of their main importers, Wood Winters UK.

Giuseppe Cortese Langhe Bianco DOC Scapulin 2019, 12% Abv.

Using spontaneous Chardonnay fermentation in stainless steel before being divided into an amphora, a stainless steel and a large French old oak portion in roughly thirds for 9 to 10 months ageing before being blended. The nose shows hints of flinty stony reduction with almond skins, limestone, white citrus and dried herbs. The palate is sleek, polished and textural with leesy, pithy almond skins, wet river pebble stony nuances and a long, full, smokey finish with just a hint of marzipan. A lovely gastronomic expression of Chardonnay. Drink now to 2028+.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese Morassina Barbera d’Alba 2016, 14.5% Abv.

Aged for 18 months in French oak barriques and large oak casks, the aromatics show lovely pure red and black berry notes with violets, cherry cola, red plums and earthy strawberries. On the palate the vibrancy and freshness shines through with a well balanced, integrated lick of oak, plenty of sweet spices, red liquorice and a fleshy full textured red fruited depth that is creamy and utterly seductive. Impressively balanced and harmonious, this is a whole lot of classy wine for the price.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese DOCG Barbaresco 2018, 14.5% Abv.

Only produced since 2017, this second release shows a lovely translucent garnet ruby colour and an elegantly restrained nose of dried herbs, potpourri, red cherries, cola, blood orange and a hint of melted tar. The palate is cool and supple, texturally creamy and mineral with a lovely full mouthfeel, bright tart cherry acids, sweet red berry fruits and a fine stony mineral red fruited length. Very accessible now but retains enough stony fine grained mineral tannin tension to make this wine age worthy. Drink now to 2030+.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese DOCG Barbaresco Rabaja 2018, 14.5% Abv.

The is a darker, broodier expression of Nebbiolo with plenty of black berry fruits, liquorice, tar, sweet truffle oil and tilled earth nuances intertwined with complex cedar spice and sappy sandalwood notes. The palate is bold and powerful with silky but potent mineral tannins, graphite spice, salty black liquorice and a long stony, pithy black cherry finish. A delicious expression that is surprisingly seductive now but will age for a decade or more.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Another Grand Release from the World’s Greatest Red Wine Co-Operative – Reviewing the Produttori del Barbaresco 2018…

The undisputed red co-operative champion of the wine world, Produttori del Barbaresco produce, year after year, some of the most scintillating wines of Barbaresco and indeed Piedmont. Masters of Nebbiolo, the 2018 vintage with its cool, damp and fresh weather conditions served up a long list of challenges for producers, yet after all was said and done, many wineries made some exceptional wines fully deserving of the vintage’s 4-star rating with an emphasis on short to medium-term drinking over long-term cellaring.

Produtorri del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2018, DOCG Barbaresco, 14.5% Abv.

We all know when Produttori del Barbaresco decide not to bottle all their great nine grower crus, the resulting wines are all blended into the Barbaresco DOCG normale cuvee. 2018 is just such a vintage and sure enough, eager collectors have been waiting for this super charged Nebbiolo release. On initial examination, the wine shows the most pretty, lifted, inviting aromatics of dried rose petals, crushed coriander, tart red cherries, salty blueberries and a seductive red liquorice complexity. On the palate, there is an attractive translucent purity and silky filigree tannins that combine with a suave, lithe, harmonious concentration of red cherry candied fruits, touches of tar, saline cassis, sloe berries and a finish that typifies true, pure classical Nebbiolo fruit. While the seductive allure of the perfumed aromatics currently outpace the slightly backwardness of the palate fruit density and structure, all the signs in the glass point to another extremely fine and supremely attractive Barbaresco release. Drink from 2022 to 2034+.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Gaia Gaja Launches the New Release Gaja Barbaresco 2018 in London…

With the Gaja Crus of Sori Tilden, Sori San Lorenzo and Costa Russi now almost out of the financial reach of many fine wine consumers, the annual new release of Gaja’s perennially impressive DOCG Barbaresco has certainly taken on a new level of interest and attention from the broader ranks of the global fine wine trade. So when Gaia Gaja made her first trip back to London since the beginning of the pandemic, the stage was set for an exciting Barbaresco launch.

After the warm and dry 2017 harvest, the 2018 vintage was characterised by early flowering and then a cooler summer with periods of rain that proved challenging to grape growers. Indeed, between the 1st of May and the 15th of June, the region saw pretty much uninterrupted rain showers which resulted in downy and powdery mildew in many areas. To compound the problems, the 17th of July saw hail hit the Barbaresco vineyards… “because the hail canons of the town were not used in time because all the villagers were watching Italy play France at football”… Gaia Gaja joked. A more windy, dry and hot September brought on the start of the harvest slightly ahead of schedule with picking finishing on the 9th of October. Despite the challenges of the weather during the growing season, 2018 is generally considered a better vintage than the warmer 2017, yielding wines with great purity, minerality and refinement.

In 2018, no Crus were made at Gaja for the first time since 2012, with all the Sori Tilden fruit and half of the Costa Russi fruit being blended into the DOCG Barbaresco (part of Costa Russi is being replanted). No Sori San Lorenzo wine was produced. While normally a blend of 14 parcels around Barbaresco, the 2018 did see some of these parcels excluded from the blend but the additions of the Cru fruit certainly acted to bolster the cepage quality considerably.

Gaja Barbaresco 2018, DOCG Barbaresco, 14% Abv.

Wonderfully pure and translucent with gorgeous red cherry and ruby hues. The nose shows impressively perfumed, opulent, hedonistic notes of stewed strawberries, fraise des bois, cured bresaola, tilled earth, tar, salty red liquorice and beautifully detailed nuances of aniseed stick. The palate texture is dense yet crisp, fresh, creamy and full in the mouth with a weighty mid-palate concentration, layered chalky, stony mineral Nebbiolo tannins over black cherry and tart blueberry fruits. This is a classical expression of Barbaresco that will appeal to the purists and collectors alike – Very fine, perfumed and beautifully expressive but also powerful, super seductive and accessible. Drink now and over the next 25+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

After The Iconic 2016 Vintage, Produttori del Barbaresco Release Another Blinder in 2017…

Founded back in 1958 and now representing a group of 51 growers with a combined total of 100 ha of vineyards, Produttori del Barbaresco under the leadership of Aldo Vacca has gone from strength to strength. The 2017 vintage certainly has a tough act to follow with the Produttori co-op producing one of their finest modern era wines ever with their 2016 release. But there is a reason that Produttori del Barbaresco is rated as the best red wine Co-operative in the world. Wines like the 2015, 2016 and 2017 exemplify top quality village Barbaresco! When they need to really deliver, they exceed expectations time and time again.

Produttori del Barbaresco 2017 Barbaresco DOCG, 14.5% Abv.

The deliciously serious 2017 is the product of a warm, dry growing season that perhaps pushes the 2017 towards a darker, deeper more broody expression. The aromatics are dense and rich, layered with black cherry, tar, melted black liquorice, salty cassis, maritime sea breeze, asphalt and perfumed violets. Where the 2016 was bright and more red fruited, the 2017 is more rustic, dense, tannic and slightly chewy in a positively Piedmontese style. The palate shows a sinewy, muscled richness and ample crunchy black cherry and black berry with tart bright acids, rock salt, aniseed root and yet more black tarry liquorice nuances. Always fabulously balanced and texturally tightly focused, this is another very impressive follow up to the stellar 2016 with the main components of the blend coming from the Ovello, Montestefano, Muncagota, Pora and Rio Sordo vineyards. Drink now to 2035+

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Fine Wine Safari New Release Notes – Tasting the Impressive New Gaja Barbaresco 2017…

July 2020 sees the new release of the famed Gaja Barbaresco 2017 vintage produced from 14 vineyards situated in the municipality of Barbaresco. The land, at a height between 250 and 330m above the sea level, covers a surface of 21.4 hectares and vines are between 40 and 45 years old on average.

After the abundance of rainfall at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, a suitable amount of water combined with the warm spring, led to an earlier than anticipated bud break, which occurred 15 days earlier than usual. By mid-April 2017, three days of frost had hit the Barbaresco area, leading to a strict selection in the vineyards which resulted in the loss of -10% of the overall production.

However, the sudden drop in temperatures led to a positive slow-down of the vegetative growth cycle, whereas the summer proved to be one of the warmest in the last 10 years. Overall, 2017 will be remembered for the healthiness of the grapes, due to the dry growing season and for the overall drop in the production which the Gaja estate estimated at up to -20% to -30% by the time of picking. The harvest began on September 13th with the Merlot, followed by the Barbera and ending with the late ripening Nebbiolo grapes on October 20th.

Gaja Barbaresco DOP 2017, 14.2 % Abv.

The 2017 Barbaresco is a vintage of low quantity but undoubtedly high quality. After the warm dry vintage, the final expression is one of concentration of fruit as well as acidity and tannins from grapes with a low juice to skin ratio. The nose is perfumed and inviting from the first pull of the cork, showing a complex bouquet of cherry blossom, rose petals, red liquorice, sour red and black cherries, sun raisined strawberries and a classical, cranberry and aniseed root spice. Powerful in the mouth yet notably fine grained in texture and classically mineral with sweet velvety tannins balancing the fruit concentration of red cherries, sour plums and hints of ripe blood orange. Despite the heat of the vintage, the wine retains impressive linearity and classical restraint more reminiscent of a vintage like 2015 while the fruit of the 2017s are purer, more elegant and harmonious and a little less plump, fleshy and rounded in comparison. A beautifully expressive wine showing fabulous freshness, precise and considerate extraction and a grand Nebbiolo intensity and persistence. Drink from release until the aromatics and palate start to tighten up and then over the next 15+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

(The Gaja wines are imported and distributed to the UK wine trade by Hatch Mansfield.)

Tasting the Sensational New Release Marchesi Di Gresy Martinenga 2015 with Jeff Chilcott in London…

If the wines of Angelo Gaja are the Domaine de la Romanee Conti of Barbaresco, then in my mind the pure, precise, fragrant, linear expressions from Kiwi winemaker Jeff Chilcott must surely be the Armand Rousseau. Coming from a site famous since ancient Roman times, the Marchesi Di Gresy estate was originally known as ‘Villa Martis’ with its 11 hectares of single vineyard Martinenga Nebbiolo producing some of the best Barbaresco DOCG reds in the region.

Marchesi Di Gresy own the entirety of Martinenga and split it into three cru terroirs – Gaiun (2.3ha south-facing), Camp Gros (2.6ha south-west facing) and Martinenga (6.5ha facing south/south-west). This ideal exposure at an altitude of 250-280m contains a very special soil composition of blue marl (a mix of clay, chalk and limestone) which all help combine to produce wines of exceptional class, structure and finesse.

Tasting with winemaker Jeff Chilcott in London recently.

The owner Alberto is rarely over in London showing his estate’s wines but these days is more often than not ably supported by his daughter Ludovica and son Alessandro. I recently caught up with Jeff on one of his flying visits to London and had the opportunity to taste the range with him including his sensational new Martinenga 2015 Barbaresco.

Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Martinenga 2015, 14.5 Abv.

From a warm year in Barbaresco, winemaker Jeff Chillcott recons they managed to make a very decent wine. Piedmont of course prefers the cooler years, but in 2015 they had to pick before the end of September. The wine is fabulously perfumed and precise with a piquant note of dried almonds, sour red cherry, pink musk, exotic cherry blossoms and red currant crumble. On the palate there is the usual impressive precision, purity and linearity you find in all Jeff’s Barbarescos. The entry is very seductive with a sweet pocket of spicy, pithy red cherry confit combined with a gravelly minerality. The texture is oh so fine, like polished marble and the acids fresh but soft and perfectly integrated. Medium bodied in weight, silky smooth and utterly seductive, this wine has enough ripeness, freshness and mineral tannin grip to allow good age ability. Definitely one for the collection!

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Gaja Barbaresco 2015 – Quite Simply the Most Impressive New Release Gaja Barbaresco Expression Tasted in Over a Decade….

Gaja’s Barbaresco is a truly magnificent wine and needs no introduction. A firm favourite amongst collectors, it is produced from fourteen unique vineyard sites in the commune of Barbaresco and offers an incredible insight into the brilliance of Gaja’s Nebbiolo wines. Extremely complex and refined, it is aged in barrels for twelve months before being blended together and matured for a further twelve months in large oak casks. A wine which is normally approachable relatively young, the 2015 will definitely improve for 10+ years and age well over two decades.

Antonio Galloni says that the “warm growing season yielded supple, radiant Barbarescos.” Following a mild winter and a protracted and damp spring, which replenished the water tables, temperatures rose steadily in July and August. The vines responded well, a result in part of the many innovations introduced in the vineyards in recent years by the Gaja family. Ideal weather conditions before the harvest allowed the grapes to ripen quickly and evenly producing perfectly ripe fruit with exceptionally regular bunches.

Widely regarded as an outstanding vintage with great promise, 2015 has broader shoulders with richer flavours than the previous vintage combined with “intense aromas and lovely energetic fruit” according to Gaia Gaja.

Gaja Barbaresco DOP 2015, 14 Abv.

This has always been one of Gaja’s greatest wines as well as greatest value wines. But dispensing with commercial intricacies, this wine has also always been the perennial over performer out punching many Crus (even from Gaja) in blind tastings. The aromatics suggest something grand and complex, something more profound than your average year, and in 2015, that is exactly what this wine delivers. Elegantly perfumed, very precise and pure, with a beautifully perfumed bouquet of crunchy red cherry, freshly plucked rose petals, violets and exotic spices. Quite reticent and restrained, more in the mould of knowing it is great without having to shout about it. On the palate, there is power and depth, concentration and density of fruit, with layers of red cherry, blueberry, sour red plum and piquant, grippy chalky natural grape tannins. There is plenty of energy here, power and intensity, all as you’d expect from a warm powerful vintage in Piedmont. This is an a impressive addition to the Gaja Barbaresco archive and one you should probably look to start drinking in 3 to 5 years and cellar for 20+. A very impressive wine indeed.

(Greg Sherwood MW –  95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting with the great Angelo Gaia at the winery.

Fine Wine Friday… at Chez Bruce

A thoroughly enjoyable gathering of wine friends today at restaurant Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, London, with a super selection of Autumnal dishes cooked by chef Bruce Poole. 


Fine wine is of course not made to be tasted, but drunk, and preferably enjoyed with great food. Our first course, Tagliatelle with braised duck paired beautifully with an impressive Gaja Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo 1986 (94+/100) and a mature but impressive Carretta Barolo Cannubi Riserva Speciale 1971 (93+/100).


The Carretta 1971 showed alluring notes of blood oranges soaked in cognac, with hints of stewed winter fruits, sour plums, orange rind, and barley sugar. Very sweet and plump, the tannins were powdery and the structure seamless and lengthy. Evolved seductive wine showing plenty of tertiary, foresty complexity. 


Next blind pair was very intriguing, matched with venison medallions served with a mini shoulder pasty. Beautiful dish, delicious wines. First up, a Chateau Lynch Bages 1970 Pauillac brought along by Neal Martin. This was a rich, earthy wine with lipstick and leather, black berries, licorice, burnt sugar, sweet meat juices and a slightly rustic grainy elegance. (92/100). 


The second wine of the pairing was another Bordeaux, a Chateau Haut Bailly 1970 Pessac-Leognan. A touch stinky to start, this wine opened up beautifully to reveal classic cedary spice, earthy gravelly forest fruits, bloody irony complexity and precise, linear acids. Very pretty, regal wine. (93+/100). 


Other notable wines on this Fine Wine Friday included a tantalising Francois Mikulski Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres 2013 (95/100), Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 1995 (92+/100), Bodegas Protos Gran Reserva 1964 Ribera del Duero (89/100) and a Joseph Leitz Riesling Beerenauslese 1997 (91+/100).


Many thanks to the wonderful Chez Bruce staff who helped make the day so enjoyable. 

Tasting Note: Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Barbaresco DOP 2013 

The 2013 Sori San Lorenzo has a seductive, alluring dark smokey nose of black cassis, cherry, tar, licorice, exotic spices and a dominant graphite undertone. Fully lush, plush and powerful but with superb elegance, depth, power and textured sweet rounded tannins. This is a monumental wine displaying all the hallmark sweet fleshy generosity of a Costa Russi blended with the taught, linear power of a Sori Tilden. Wow, this is incredibly impressive in its youth, but promises a very very long illustrious future. Possibly the finest young Sori San Lorenzo released to date. Wine Safari Score: 99/100 Greg Sherwood MW (UK Release price £1,695.00 IB per 6 – Sept 2016)