Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cellar Report: 1999 Produttori "Rabaja" Barbaresco; 2003 Patricia Green Pinot Noir

Two recent drinking excursions are all the proof I need (as if after all this time I needed ANY) that wine with time well spent in my basement is one of my life's great rewards.....
1999 PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO Barbaresco "Rabaja" 1.5ltr
Drinking this was like being a homerun hitter and having the pitcher groove one right down the middle of the plate. Can you say "sweet spot"? My long held belief is that most great Barbaresco and Barolo, the two noble wines of Italy's Piedmont region and surely the reason the nebbiolo grape was "invented", start showing their stuff...really showing it...at about 10 years of age. Assuming a good vintage of course, and '99 was very, very good. Oh, and a good producer as well, of which the Produttori del Barbaresco is undoubtedly one of the world's great wine houses. I took this big bottle of deliciousness to dinner out with the VINO gang recently and from the first sniff to the last slurp it was glorious. The Rabaja is one of nine single vineyard "Riserva" bottlings the Produttori does in the very best vintages. Young, the 1999s really didn't show much of themselves, all closed up on the nose and tannic with that hard body that only softens up over time (an uncomfortable allusion to my own self, I realize...*sigh*). Anyway, back to this bottle. First off, there isn't anything much better, wine-wise, than popping the cork on the large format bottle. Just lugging it into the restaurant, you know good times are ahead! After pouring it around, the nose throughout dinner just kept opening and revealing more and more nuance. Sure, all the classic Piedmontese earth and cherry fruit was there, but also creeping in and out of the picture were rose petals, wisps of smoke, road tar (which in this case is a good thing), and ripe plums. On the palate the fruit was velvety smooth, melding with those hard tannins over time to become something pretty profound. The same aromas were echoed on the palate, with cherries and spice more in abundance. It had a pitch perfect acid balance, which is one of the reasons this was so good after ten years. It's acid that holds everything together in a wine, and a reason I fear for so many of the new world fruit bombs that are all blowsy alcohol and high extraction that sacrifices that acidity. This was simply an impeccable wine, drinking at its apogee, that enhanced each bite of food. Wow, if only it was like this every time!
*** *** *** *** ***
2003 PATRICIA GREEN CELLARS
Pinot Noir "Dollar Bills Only"

Patty Green, along with her winemaking partner Jim Anderson, are two of the nicest, and most talented people going in the Oregon wine business. They make incredible single vineyard pinot noir under their Patricia Green Cellars label, and a few years ago started selling this "Dollar Bills Only" bottling as a way to access a new, and more value conscious consuming public. I think this '03 on release was selling for $13-$15 a pop, which for better or worse in the Oregon wine world is a stellar price. 2003 was a searingly hot vintage, where whether you liked it or not as a winemaker you were going to be dealing with very ripe fruit and unheard of sugar levels (which translates into high alcohol) for pinot noir. There were a slew of out of balance wines released that were all fruit and not much else. Winemaking chops were of paramount importance and not many are better than Patty & Jim. The DBO was released as more of drink now pinot, but I managed to cache a few bottles away. This was my last bottle of the 2003, and I pulled it out the other night with not too many hopes for anything interesting. But man, did this surprise! There wasn't much if any tannin left, and just a hint of acidity, but the fruit was absolutely luscious. Darkly colored, with mouthcoating purple plums and ripe, sugary strawberries, with a bit of earth and light pepper sprinkled on top. A long, lush, almost decadent finish completed this very happy picture. This was wine that was just out for a good time. It only serves to remind that I don't need...or want...a Nobel prize laureate every time I pull a wine from the basement!

10 comments:

TSannie said...

This has nothing to do with your post - sorry!
Did you know Kevin Sandri got a second cart and moved his first cart - or something like that - I'm getting this info second hand.
You've been a good critique/friend of his and I hope you'll have time to keep me (CT me) informed. But if not, I do understand.
(I'm living vicariously, you know!)

Paul said...

I'm sitting on a bunch of 01's, so I really appreciate the thoughts on aging. It is very rare to have critics write about when to drink a wine (Jancis Robinson being an exception). Thank you.

bb said...

TS...Kevin moved his Sellwood cart 1/2 block south right around the corner from VINO. Hopefully opem by end of Feb. His new N. Mississippi & Skidmore cart will open in about 2 weeks.

Paul...the 01's are still very young. I think a longer lived vintage than '99. I'm lucky that i have a chance to try so many wines like that! thanks for your comment, too....I'll take a Jancis comparison any day!

Paul said...

I did a quick search and got this Jancis article on 99 Tuscans at 10 yo.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/83c44e0c-aee2-11de-96d7-00144feabdc0.html

bb said...

the '99 Tuscans are fabulous right now. iy was a really ripe, rich vintage. I've had some 98's also that were spot on now. And my '99 Brunellos are just, barely, starting to drink well.

Neil A said...

The dinner and wine story was excellent. The wine jumped right off the page without spilling a drop.

Keep the wine poetry flowing.

bb said...

Thank you Neil....it tasted better than it reads, believe me!

Marianne said...

Is it possible to buy any of this Barbaresco? Probably not......by the way I read your blog all the time.....love the links to videos etc you have posted....

peter said...

Oh, man- I have a 97 Produttori Moccagatta (sadly, only a 750) that I'm dying to open... this might have just pushed me over the edge.

And yes, 99 Brunellos are really starting to go to a happy place right now.

bb said...

Marianne....it is possible to get some of the '99 mags of this wine. email me at vinobuys@qwest.net if you want some. Thanks for the kind words too!

peter...I've had several '97 Produttori's in the last year..they are definitely "drink now" wines...really at their peak or starting to slide a bit... so have at it. It wasn't the best year of long-lived Piedmont wines.