Produttori del Barbaresco Cru Tasting
@ Convivio Restaurant, NYC (1/14/2009)

This dinner was organized by Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co. in Sonoma, CA. Here is the email announcing this dinner. It was very well organized with one flight for each top vintage going backward from 1996 to 1978.

The guest of honor was the managing director of the Produttori del Barbaresco, Aldo Vacca, who led us through the tasting commenting on the winery and each vintage we tasted. Aldo is a very annimated and interesting speaker. There are quite a few photos of him below.

Each of 5 vintages (1996, 1989, 1988, 1985, 1978) got its own flight. Two top vintages missing from this range are the 1990 and 1982. Fortunately, I got to taste four good examples from 1990 and one from 1982, as well as others, at a later event with another group. Another Produttori dinner was organized by Rare Wine Co in March 2012. My notes from that dinner are here.

The Produttori del Barbaresco is a cooperative in the Commune of Barbaresco. It was founded in 1958, though an earlier version (founded in 1894) was shut down by the fascists in the 1920's. According to their website,

The Produttori del Barbaresco … now has 56 members and 100 hectares (250 acres) of Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation, which amounts to almost 1/6 of the vineyards of the area. Each family is in full control of its land, growing Nebbiolo grapes with centuries old skill and dedication.
The winery produces a Barbaresco D.O.C.G. [which is] a blend of Nebbiolo grapes harvested from different vineyards, and a simpler Nebbiolo Langhe suited for earlier consumption. In great vintages, nine single-vineyard Barbarescos are produced from nine classic premium sites within the Barbaresco village boundaries: Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo. These are the geographical names of sites where Nebbiolo grapes have always been cultivated.
The names of the single-vineyards, the total number of bottles produced, and the name of the owners of the vineyards are marked on the labels. The Produttori del Barbaresco, which vinifies only Nebbiolo grapes, produces around 420,000 bottles (35,000 cases) per year.
In a good vintage they are divided among Barbaresco (40%), single vineyard Barbarescos (40%) and Nebbiolo Langhe (20%).
You can find much more information about the winery and its wines at the Fine Wine Geek's Produttori page.

The Restaurant

Convivio was a very good restaurant, but sadly it closed in 2011 along with its sister restaurant, Alto. It was in a unique location in Tudor City just south of UN Headquarters on the eastern edge of Manhattan.

Click on an image for a larger view of that image.
Entering Tudor City from 42nd St. The Entrance to Convivio in Tudor City.
The Entrance to Convivio in Tudor City. The Program for the Evening.

The Wine and Food

All the wines were from the Produttori del Barbaresco, a cooperative in the Commune of Barbaresco. All the wines were single-vineyard riservas except for the 1988 Trentennio, which is a special 30th anniversary blend of several vineyards.

Here are most of the wines for the evening. Individual bottle shots (as well as much more information on the Produttori) can be found on the Fine Wine Geek Produttori Page.

Flight 1: 1996
With Polenta con Fegatini di Pollo alla Salvia (creamy polenta, crispy chicken livers, sage).

Flight 2: 1989
Stracci di Pasta Fresca con Funghi e Tartufo Nero (rags of pasta, wild mushroom ragu, fresh black truffles).
I love these 1989s!

Flight 3: 1988
Tortelli di Amatrice con Fonduta di Cacio e Pepe (amatriciana filled pasta, black pepper, pecorino cream).

Flight 4: 1985
Piccione Arrosto con Cime di Rape e Finocchio (roasted squab, broccoli rabe, fennel, black olives).

Aldo Vacca said this was a bad year for them. They hired a new winemaker in 1984. He cut the fermentation time down to 2 weeks (from the traditional 5 weeks). This was a very bad move in this light ripe vintage. The new winemaker was fired after 1985.

Flight 5: 1978
Formaggi d'Italia (clockwise from upper left): Pecorino from Campania, Pecorino Rosso from Tuscany, Robiola from Piedmont.

Aldo Vacca said that the 1978s were almost undrinkable when they were young.

Others' Notes

The People

Click on an image for a larger view of that image.
My table (#2): John Gilman (l), Hank Silverman (r). My table (#2): Hank Silverman (l), Stefano Fusi (c).
My table (#2): Ray DeAngelo 2nd from right. Mannie Berk of Rare Wine Co introduces Aldo Vacca.
Table 4: Eric Guido, Greg dal Piaz in blue shirts,
Henry Kahn, Marty Neschis across from them.
Table 3 listens attentively
to Mannie introducing Aldo.
Scott Silton, Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan,
Antonio Galloni, Aldo Vacca at Table 1.
Aldo Vacca listens to
Mannie introduce him.
Aldo Vacca speaks passionately about Barbaresco and the Produttori del Barbaresco.
Aldo Vacca talks about the next flight.
Paul Jaouen. Table 3: Joe Gagliano 2nd from left.
Table 4: Henry explains, Marty & others listen. Table 4: Greg dal Piaz (center), Eric Guido (right).
Table 1: Scott, Ed, Mary, Antonio. Table 1: Mannie, Dan Tisch, Paul Jaouen.
Table 1: Dan be sophisticated! Table 1: Aldo and Mannie.
Table 1: Aldo tastes one of his 1989's. Table 1: Aldo is tired but happy.
Aldo Vacca speaks expressively about the 1978's.
Aldo poses with the Fine Wine Geek. Antonio is tired but happy.
Paul & Scott are just happy! Mannie and Greg.
Greg introduces Joe to John. Dan, Joe, & Greg.



All original content © Ken Vastola