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The Fantasy of Piedmont

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Cinquant anni Produttori del Barbaresco
Cinquant anni Produttori del Barbaresco

Picture it. The dramatic rise and fall of sun-soaked hillsides blanketed by an endless corduroy of broadleaved vines. An old man taking shade on the back of a vineyard truck at the end of a long day, a mountain of harvested grapes stacked in wicker baskets at his back. Some of the world's most seductive wines being made literally all around. This is Barbaresco, the jewel in the crown of the Piedmont, Italy's bodacious highland wine country.

Barbaresco is the name of the place—a medium-sized, crescent shaped village in the northern foothills of the Piedmont—as well as the wine made in that place. It's also one of those names that often answers the question: What got you into wine in the first place? It's high on style and deeply in love with tradition. And the cooperative Produttori del Barbaresco is your easiest way to access the riches this land holds.

Nebbiolo, the only grape that goes into the making of Barbaresco wines, has been grown here since the 13th Century. For most of its history, these grapes were sold off to Barolo, another Nebbiolo-centric neighbor. But at the turn of the 20th Century, people began to noticed Barbaresco's distinctive and complex character. The small farmers of the region pooled their efforts, and the village began it's steady climb toward fame.

In the 1920s a fascist hiccup threatened to extinguish Barbaresco as a brand, but then in the 1950s the village came back through the formation of Produttori del Barbaresco, a small cooperative of farmers who today carry the mantle of the original federation.

Each vintage, they produce eleven wines. One of those, their flagship wine, is the clearest triumph of this collaboration. Produttori del Barbaresco DOCG ($35) combines the efforts of many, sacrifices the stewardship of none, and provides an affordable entry point into a realm of wine that can sometimes feel cruelly out of reach.

The cooperative also makes single-vineyard wines from each of the nine recognized classical sites within the village. These wines are labeled 'Reserva' and are accompanied by the corresponding vineyard's name. They're fetching, to be sure, but at nearly twice the price of the entry-level bottling they also fetch a hefty tax on your wallet. Not to say they aren't worth every penny (resoundingly, they are!), just that the large numbers can often scare off folks who have every reason to go Barbaresco on the reg.

If you know you love these wines, then this post is just a friendly reminder of the plentiful riches of the Produttori. But really this is for all the rest, those of you who may not be acquainted, but who can be, who should be, and who now have every reason to embrace a truly world-class wine.

Wines currently in-stock

Produttori del Barbaresco DOCG 2009 ($35) Produttori del Barbaresco DOCG Reserva "Muncagota" 2008 ($65)