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Sottimano 2002

Dolcetto_bric_del_salto_2004Andrea Sottimano rushes into the small tasting room of his family’s winery in Barbaresco. He is covered with dust and sweat, removing his hat he smiles disarmingly and says, “sorry, I’m late”.

You know right away that this is no gentleman farmer’s estate. Andrea was, as always, out in the vineyard working their vines. At the Sottimano estate they take the phrase “great wine is made in the vineyard” to a new level. Each of their vines is treated like a Bonsai tree in a Japanese garden. Nothing is too much for these vines to ask.

The ultimate proof of their skills and dedication in the vineyard sits in the glasses in front of me as Andrea pours the full range of their 2002 vintage. This was a year so difficult that many producers gave up, selling their wines off in bulk. The Sottimanos did not give up, but attacked their vineyards with a vengeance, reducing yields to ridiculous levels. This intensity extended beyond simply reducing bunches as they even dropped the lower half of the remaining bunches to the ground.

If you’re wondering why they do this it can’t be for the money. The Sottimano Barbaresci sell for under $75 – or less than many Napa Cabernets that harvest many tons an acre more than they do. This is a work of passion and they have even reduced pricing to encourage consumers to try their 2002’s. If you don’t have a cellar to age your Barbaresci the recommended eight or so years before they mature, these wines are a must buy as they offer pure nebbiolo pleasure in a package ready for drinking sooner rather than later. This is not to say they will not develop nicely with several more years of aging.

The 2002 Barbaresci from Sottimano are not the greatest Barbaresci you will ever taste, but they are an amazing accomplishment and will provide delightful drinking while you are waiting for their exceptional 2001’s and 1999’s to mature. In another testament to their skills in the vineyards, their 2000’s offer more complexity than the simple charming, forward wines offered by most producers.

Sottimano new releases:

2004 Dolcetto d’Alba, Bric del Salto
Brilliant purple. Rich, juicy blueberry and loganberry fruit. Mouthwatering, zesty and fresh. Drink now. My mouth waters just writing about this charming wine.

2003 Barbera d’Alba, Pairolero
Bright ruby with a hint of purple. Ripe chocolate bittersweet aromas mixed with ripe, yet tart sweet black raspberry. Expansive and alive on the palate. The finish is long with rich brightness and a touch of cassis.

The 2002 Barbaresco releases of Sottimano, all are highly recommended. Tasters will be hard pressed to separate these wines from many producers 2001’s in a blind tasting.

Fausoni
Rich translucent ruby. Spiced, tobacco, tar and smoky cranberry aromas. A wine of great nebbiolo purity with very good depth and structure. Not at all simple or overtly forward, yet already approachable.

Currá
Brilliant ruby garnet. Smoky and meaty with bitter current and ripe fresh red raspberry. Very structured and still closed, but still drinkable with pleasure. The finish is warm. Mouth filling with warm spiced tarry highlights. As usual, Currá is a brooding nebbiolo.

Cottá
Brillant ruby garnet. Firm, earthy and leather aromas mix with dense bittersweet black cherry. Very tarry and generous on the palate with a richly tannic finish blended with sweet burnt blood orange and long bitter tar accents. Big and intense throughout with a warm rich, tannic finish.

Pajoré
Always the most elegant of the Sottimano Barbaresci, this wine does not disappoint in 2002. Brilliant ruby garnet. The wonderfully refined nose is full of roses, violets and pomegranates. On the palate it is full of spices, smooth bitter cherry and ripe blackberry all mixed into a velvety yet tannic package. Irresistible.

Basarin
A new vineyard section recently purchased by the Sottimano family. In an ultimate statement to their dedication to quality, the Sottimanos have decided to wait another ten or so years to call this wine Barbaresco again and will just sell it as Langhe Rosso. This means they will sell it at about 1/3 the price that they could selling it as Barbaresco, even though they are fully able to do so both legally and morally. While not up to the level of their other 2002 Barbaresci, it is still a very nice wine and better than many Barbaresci sold on the market. It is a bright ruby garnet, with an elegant spiced nose. It is bright and fresh throughout. Refined and balanced, the finish is vibrant with a firm, tannic finish.

Shortly I will follow up with some comments on the Sottimano family’s equally deft touch in the cellar.

Pictured above, 2004 Dolcetto from Bric del Salto at harvest.