Product information

Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva ‘Rio Sordo’ 2016

Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy, Barbaresco


$204ea in any 3+
$194ea in any 6+
Closure: Cork


The 2016 Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo is a serious, somber wine. Black cherry, plum, lavender, spice and menthol show off the darker side of Nebbiolo to great effect. In most vintages, Rio Sordo is an easygoing wine, but not in 2016. Readers will find a potent, brooding yet mid-weight Barbaresco that screams with character. What a way to start this tasting!


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Check out all of the wines by Produttori del Barbaresco

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

The wines of Produttori del Barbaresco were my first introduction to Barbaresco. The good bit was being introduced to a producer that is now a staple in my cellar. The bad bit was all of the lesser Barbaresco I tried after that. They had set the bar high!

Barbaresco is often considered the poor cousin to Barolo. That it certainly is not! The benefit for us is the marketing hype around Barolo which is often deserved and sometimes not help keep prices of Barbaresco reasonable. Produttori produces what are undoubtedly some of the best value Barbarescos available today.

I while ago I had a 1996 Produttori del Barbaresco standard next to a 1996 Vietti Riserva Villero – in today’s money $75 vs $750. The Vietti was undoubtedly the superior wine, but, gee the Produttori held it’s own for a wine of the comparative price.

There really is an incredible amount of wisdom in Aldo Vacca’s winemaking.

A rare opportunity to try the best Crus from across Barbaresco, and, explore the diversity of personalities in the wines of the region, from feminine, and, perfumed, to brooding and structured.

They are all excellent wines of distinction, with a few more years in the bottle they will be a truckload of fun.

My 1st meeting with Aldo

Aldo Vacca has deftly brought the Produttori del Barbaresco into modern times while making subtle changes to farming and winemaking yet maintaining the traditional style that has made this coop so adored by its rabidly loyal fan base. The changes at Produttori have been gradual to the degree they aren’t always so noticeable, but they are there. No one knows every nook and cranny of Barbaresco better than Aldo Vacca, but Vacca has also proven to be incredibly wise in making choices that have positioned the Produttori for much continued success in the future. I can’t think of too many wines that deliver this much pleasure and value. Antonio Galloni

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The 2016 Vintage at Produttori del Barbaresco

From Produttori:

The 2016 vintage was certainly one of the longest-lasting season of recent years. Signs of the vegetative cycle being so long first appeared at the beginning of the season, when the mild temperatures and low rainfall in January and early February confirmed the trend that had already been seen during the first part of the winter.

From the end of February throughout March, on the other hand, temperatures dropped and there was plenty of rain, providing the soil with good reserves of water, although less than what was recorded the previous year.
Spring began with a considerable amount of rain as well as cold night temperatures which actually helped avoiding any significant disease related problem also because of the still primordial stage reached in the vegetative cycle.

Only after June 20th temperatures become more normal and summer settled in with maximum day temperatures above 85°F. The good weather stayed through the summer, but never too hot and grapes showed a slowly delay in the ripening process that was overcome only in September especially thanks to the beautiful second half of the month. Bright days and chilly nights helped a perfect evolution of the structure of the wines and the accumulation of phenolic substances.
Harvest happened in the first two weeks of October under beautiful weather. We can look forward to wines with excellence balance, big bouquets and great structure, although in some cases lower alcohol contents will be recorded than in 2015. 2016 will be a vintage of great personality and definitely in for the long run in your cellars!

Antonio Galloni’s Thoughts:

The 2016 Riservas are without question the finest wines I have ever tasted from the Produttori del Barbaresco. That is evident from the very beginning of this tasting. Wines like the Pora, Rio Sordo and Muncagota that are typically open-knit and accessible, in relative terms, are brooding powerhouses. From there, the Riservas only get richer, deeper and more structured. I am too young to have tasted the 1978s as young wines, but the darkness and power of the 2016s reminds me of those Barbarescos, with the finesse and nuance of today, naturally. Harvest began in early October, which is on the later side by current standards. The Riservas saw five weeks on the skins, with submerged cap fermentation and then malolactic fermentation in steel, where the wines spent a number of months before being racked into 25 and 50HL casks in May 2017. No one who loves Piedmont wines will want to be without these mind-blowing, majestic Riservas. Prices remain exceedingly fair, making these some of the most reasonably priced, ageworthy wines anywhere in the world. Because of the very high quality of the year, the Produttori bottled about 20% more volume of the Riservas.

While waiting for those wines to come around, readers will want to have the 2017 Barbaresco in the cellar. It’s a very pretty wine from a year with more challenges. It will be interesting next year to see how the Riservas fared. Congratulations to Managing Director Aldo Vacca and his team for this breathtaking set of wines. The 2016 Riservas will go down as an epochal achievement for the Produttori del Barbaresco.

A bit about Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is an incredibly challenging grape variety to grow, make, and, as a consumer, sometimes, to drink and understand.

The name incorporates ‘Nebbia’ or cloud. Driving the vineyard clad hills of Barolo or Barbaresco in Piemonte (at the foot of the mountain), you’ll often find yourself immersed in clouds! A function of the topography and the region being surround by mountains on three sides.

Nebbiolo wines tend to focus more on what we call secondary characters, earthy, truffles, violets, woody herbs, tar. The texture / mouthfeel is a hallmark of Nebbiolo. They can be extremely tannic demanding rich food to balance them, and time in the bottle to soften. No matter the quantity of tannin, the best Nebbiolo wines will always have incredible quality, depth and length of tannin.

The bunches and berries are much larger than most of the French varieties. The colour of Nebbiolo wines can range from deep and dark to rusty tap water! Yet, a pale colour is often no indicator of the depth of flavour or quality of the wine.

A bit about Barbaresco

The area of Barbaresco is only 10min from Barolo, the difference in soil and weather can mean one may have a great year whilst the other is average.

Barbaresco DOCG regulations allow for wine to be released a year earlier than Barolo. Angelo Gaja, perhaps the most famed producer of Barbaresco, has largely chosen to ignore DOCG regulation in the pursuit of excellence. There is perhaps a question over whether marketing or tending of the vineyards and wines is the reason behind their cult status.

Whilst Gaja has been in the limelight wineries like Roagna and Produttori del Barbaresco have been quietly going about the business of making some of the best value Nebbiolo’s available today.

There is no doubt that the great Barbaresco’s are every bit as good as the great Barolo’s.

As a generalisation, Barbaresco tends to be less tannic and more approachable as younger wines. This has absolutely no impact on the ability of Barbaresco to age.

94 Points

The 2016 Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo is a serious, somber wine. Black cherry, plum, lavender, spice and menthol show off the darker side of Nebbiolo to great effect. In most vintages, Rio Sordo is an easygoing wine, but not in 2016. Readers will find a potent, brooding yet mid-weight Barbaresco that screams with character. What a way to start this tasting!

Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Produttori del Barbaresco S.A.C., Via Torino, Barbaresco, Province of Cuneo, Italy