In 10 questions, Aldo Vacca - Managing Director of Produttori del Barbaresco; tells us about running a cooperative and what makes Produttori del Barbaresco unique.
Founded in 1958 by the priest of the village of Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco is one of the most, if not the most, successful stories of Piedmont. A local cooperative that every year makes breathtaking Barbaresco’s that truly exemplifies the full potential of the Nebbiolo grape. While reaching worldwide recognition and each year more media attention, their wines are still one of the best values in Piedmont. Produttori del Barbaresco truly represents what Barbaresco is and should be.
1. What would you consider is the major challenge of running a cooperative?
Keeping all the growers happy and focused on the goal which is producing the best possible grapes year after year.
2. What do you enjoy the most and the least about being the wine director of Produttori del Barbaresco?
The most is being able to work for the land, representing the all village and the terroir of Barbaresco in every nuances, not just one family or one estate. The least, not being able to act fast in a quickly changing world and market, cooperatives tend to move slowly.
3. What do you think has been the biggest change in the winemaking at Produttori since you started? Or there hasn't been any changes?
It has to do with the new climate which is producing far riper grapes than in the past. Until the mid ‘90s the all focus was to have as ripe as possible grapes and being able to “tame the tannins” in the cellar. Now is almost the opposite goal. We did not change the style, still quite traditional, but adjusted it to the new challenge.
4. Do members of the cooperative have a say in the winemaking process after harvest or are they involved in any way in the cellar?
No they don’t, only in the growing of the grapes.
5. How do you make sure the work in the vineyard is similar or homogeneous across all members of the cooperative? Or does every member do their own thing? How big is the level of independence of every member in the vineyard?
They are totally independent, but they pretty much work in very similar ways. It has to do with the fact that they have been working in a very small territory for several generations and techniques are pretty much defined. We also organize 2-3 meeting per year where we discuss new aspect of viticulture or climate, often with invited experts so to share the knowledge with all the members.
6. How would you describe the 2016 vintage for the Riservas?
Vintage of the century is the definition. It has the aromatics of 2014, the body of 2015 and the depth of 2013, all aspects doubled up. It doesn’t get better than that!
7. What would you consider the optimal drinking window for these 2016's?
Would you say they are drinking well young? Yes, they are a joy right now and they will age for 30 years, that’s the nature of the “vintages of the century”…..
8. Describe the main characteristics of each of the following Riservas and how they compare with each other?
Rabaja: a complete wine, showing massive dark red fruit, full body and powerful tannic finish
Montefico: extremely powerful, yet elegant the quintessential “iron fist in a velvet glove” Barbaresco. Lovely minerality in the finish.
Muncagota: a lighter version of Rabajà (same terroir, cooler exposure), more ethereal and less full bodied, but extremely refined
9. What makes Produttori del Barbaresco unique apart from being a cooperative?
It is a small cooperative, only 54 farmers. It is a monovarietal winery (Nebbiolo only), an exception in the Langhe region. By producing 9 single vineyards wines aqll from the Barbaresco village and all made identically, it offers a unique opportunity to taste and learn what is the Barbaresco terroir.
10. Do you have a personal favorite riserva from Produttori? Or which cru do you think is the most consistent?
It is just like asking which one is your favorite children…. First remember that we only release the riserva when the vintage is excellent. If there are up and downs we prefer to blend everything in the Barbaresco. Therefore when they come out they are all quite good and consistent…. This being said I personally lean toward Montefico for its minerality and sheer class. It is also a vineyard which is very consistent in its personality.