Miriam-Webster describes Cooperation as:
1: the actions of someone who is being helpful by doing what is wanted or asked for: common effort. E.g We are asking for your full cooperation.
2: association of persons for common benefit established trade and economic cooperations. This is what we’re talking about with our #ItalianFWT!
In a nutshell, to cooperate, means to work together, pulling together your resources, knowledge and expertise to make the best possible outcome.
Barbaresco is a small village in Piemonte in Northern Italy. Like its famous sister town Barolo, it also is known for growing world class Nebbiolo, but the world might say it’s the ‘queen’ to Barolo’s ‘king. Although the wines might be more approachable due to vines growing at lower elevations, and its closer proximity to the Tanaro river to help regulate temperatures, there are some very fine examples of powerful, structured, full-bodied and age-worthy wines coming from Barbaresco. In their youth, Nebbiolo from Barbaresco may be easier to drink with softer tannins, delicate fruit and perfume; it doesn’t mean that they are by any means, less quality or not as important!
In small places like this, land is at a premium and producers who may want to make wine from their grapes might not be able to because they wouldn’t have enough to sell. So, why not join forces with other growers/producers around you and still make great wines, but in greater quantities? Thus the cooperative makes sense.
Produttori del Barbaresco was Founded in 1958, by the local village priest who recognized the fact that the only way small properties could survive was by joining their efforts. Previous to this, grape growers sold their grapes to producers in Barolo for their wines. The priest gathered together nineteen small growers and founded the Produttori del Barbaresco. From its humble beginnings making the first three vintages in the church basement, Produttori del Barbaresco has grown to a 52 member co-operative with 250 acres of Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation and an annual production of over 500,000 bottles. Its vineyards amount to almost 1/6 of the vineyards of the area. The beauty of this arrangement is that each member is in full control of their land, growing Nebbiolo grapes with the skill and dedication they have honed over generations. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like win-win to me!
And the Cooperetiva has continued to be one of the greatest producers of the area.
Unlike Barolo’s 11 villages, (and single vineyards within each), Barbaresco has four; the village of Barbaresco itself, along with Nieve, Treiso and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio. Within these villages are cru vineyards, and in the best years, the cooperative will make wine from nine premium sites: Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajè, Montefico, Muncagota, and Rio Sordo. Keep in mind that all of these wines are only made from ONE grape. That’s pretty impressive in itself to have a cooperative dealing with only one grape, which speaks to the power of Nebbiolo.
Since I work in a retail wine store, I will speak to the wines that we have here: two cru wines and the Langhe Nebbiolo – all wines made by Produttori del Barbaresco, or what we affectionately know them as – PdB.
2013 was a great vintage in Piemonte with a very warm summer and a temperate fall, which resulted in full ripeness of the Nebbiolo grapes. Since 2013, some exceptional vintages have followed (both the 2015 & 2016 vintages were stellar) and as a result, if you are a points follower, these wines have traditionally garnered quite high scores.
I won’t get into all the single vineyard wines the PdB produces, but I will talk about two in particular: Produttori del Barbaresco Rabajà, and the Montestefano.
The Rabajà vineyard is 3.7 ha with a South-west exposition (cool mornings, warm evenings) with a total of nine owners to the vineyard. No new oak on this, but 36 months in the large neutral oak barrels and one year in bottle. The total production is just over 17K total bottles, and they even bottle a few magnums too! And the price won’t break the bank either! In Canada, we sell single vineyard wines for around $C85
Loads of red cherry, and that beautiful red rose floral note that is so synonymous with Nebbiolo. Some lovely clove spice notes on the palate along with more red fruits and hints of licorice and leather even. The tannins are super smooth and that high, high acidity would lend itself to a number of local cuisine that the Piemontese are known for! Simply Outstanding! In my travels in Piemonte, I always look forward to my first dish of tajarin, (say Tah-yah-REEN) the long egg pasta served with ground meat (often veal or pork or a combination of the two), sometimes just mixed with sage and butter, and very often truffles grated on top, which as we know, famous in the region! Sooo good, and a dish that honestly, I never get tired of eating when I’m in Piemonte!
The Montestefano vineyard is 4.5 ha with a south facing exposure. Incidentally, the ageing protocol is the same for all the single vineyards. There is a total of six owners for this vineyard and production is around 6500 bottles. (Please note, I did not taste this wine, but the professional reviews are solid).
If you’re looking to not spend that much money, for half the price (under $40 in Alberta) the Langhe Nebbiolo is also a good choice. The grapes in the bottle come from a selection of grapes from the estate owned vineyards inside the appellation. Still amazing quality, and the wine is juicy with red fruits and smooth tannins-2017 being another great vintage in the region.
Produttori del Barbaresco is always a good choice if you’re looking for both quality and a price point that is not far out of reach. This Cooperative has stood the test of time, and will continue to be a strong force in the town of Barbaresco and area. Salute!
Check out some other Cooperatives in Italy as written by my fellow #ItalianFWT colleagues!
Cindy at Grape Experiences shares On Wine Co-ops, Sicily’s Cantine Settesoli and Mandrarossa Winery
Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares Celebrate Chinese New Year, Observe Italian wine coop evolution, OMG yummy Prosecco!
Katarina at Grapevine Adventures shares Cincinnato – A Cooperative in Lazio Focused on Native Grapes
Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares Prosecco, coop-style: What do these tasters say?
Jane at Always Ravenous shares Popping the Corks on Cooperative Prosecco
Jen at Vino Travels Italy shares Italian Wine Cooperatives with Prosecco from Val d’Oca
Liz at What’s in That Bottle shares What’s Up with Italian Wine Cooperatives?
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “https://adayinthelifeonthefarm.blogspot.com/2020/01/godendo-aperitivo-prima-di-cena.html“Godendo Aperitivo Prima di Cena
Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “https://savortheharvest.com/alpine-wine-cooperative-how-things-roll-in-alto-adige-italianfwt/“Alpine Wine Cooperative – How Things Roll in Alto Adige
Susannah at Avvinare shares “https://avvinare.com/2020/02/01/visiting-lake-garda-through-the-wines-of-cantina-colli-morenici-italianfwt/“Visiting Lake Garda through the wines of Cantina Colli Morenici
Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “https://foodwineclick.com/2020/01/31/the-italian-wine-cooperative-surprise-italianfwt/“The Italian Wine Cooperative Surprise
Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares”http://culinary-adventures-with-cam.blogspot.com/2020/01/hardworking-kids-fresh-pasta-and-red.html” Hardworking Kids, Fresh Pasta, and a Red Wine from Vallevò
Gwendolyn at Wine Predator matches https://winepredator.com/2020/02/01/3-bottles-of-bubbles-from-val-doca-paired-with-crab-butternut-bisque-and-polenta-shrimp-italianfwt/“3 Bottles of Bubbles from Italy’s Val D’Oca Paired with Butternut Crab Bisque and Polenta Shrimp
Nicole at Somm’s Table shares “The History of Amarone at Cantina Valpolicella Negrar, and Domìni Veneti Amarone Classico with Decadent, Braised Lamb Shanks”
These look fabulous. Now I’m definitely on the hunt! Thanks for the tips.
Marcia- I just missed tasting some of these wines yesterday at the big Piedmont tasting in NYC. They are a great cooperativa. Your article and tasting notes were spot on, as I would assume from a VIA expert. I have the VIA Ambassador certificate :). I’m happy to discover your blog and your ideas. Alla prossima (Until next time) Cheers, Susannah
Hey Susannah! That’s great! Where and when did you get your VIA ambassador? One of my Maestro students is attending this year!
This is the one high quality Italian Cooperative I was aware of before this month. Fabulous wines, and I have a bunch in my cellar.
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I’ve seen these labels before but didn’t realize they were from a cooperative. It was mentioned on the chat yesterday it can a difficult thing to identify. Now I have 2013 Nebbiolo in my head, as well as Tajarin- yum to both!