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Produttori del Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Langhe, 2006, $23.99

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Nebbiolo is one of the world’s great grape varietals. It is the varietal of Barolo and Barbaeresco, two majestic wines of great longevity. More affordably, Nebbiolo d’Alba and Langhe afford the opportunity to taste this varietal without the commensurate price tag of Barolo. These are also wines that you can enjoy much sooner, with warmer, longer summer days and warmer evenings in the Po Valley leading to riper grapes with softer tannins.

This is a wine to savor, slowly letting the flavors open and shift from rose to brambly fruit to fennel. Enjoy this when the sun has set and a little coolness has set in, ideally with a plate of aged Italian cheese like a good Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you eat meat, include some prosciutto or fennel salami on the plate as well.

The following review was written by Antonio Galloni, Italian wine critic for the Wine Advocate. “Readers who want to get an early idea of the 2006 vintage in Piedmont will want to check out Produttori del Barbaresco’s terrific 2006 Nebbiolo delle Langhe. The wine shows the super-ripe qualities of the vintage in its sweet dark fruit, licorice, tar and spices. To be honest, I haven’t always been a fan of this bottling as too often it can come across as green and under-ripe, but none of those qualities are present in this 2006, which bodes well for the estate’s top wines. In the meantime, this is a sexy, perfumed Nebbiolo to enjoy over the next few years. As is the case with the more important wines here, the Nebbiolo was aged in cask, six months in this case. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2011.”