To welcome fall, and without a doubt the season has arrived, like clockwork, the moment our Labor Day weekend had wrapped up, I have always had a bit of a tradition of opening some Barbaresco. While my heart may belong to Barolo, the somewhat more elegant and more approachable wines of Barbaresco are perfect for times when you are looking for something lighter, and often somewhat less expensive than the best wines of Barolo.
Also worth consideration at this time are the great Nebbiolo wines that so many producers bottle at fair, though increasing less affordable prices. I have devoted quite a bit of space on these pages to Barolo and the 2010 vintage, and at the same time I have also suggested that the 2011 vintage, while not as classical a vintage as the focused and austere 2010, would provide for some remarkable drinking for those who are either not so patient, or more welcoming of the extra fruit a precocious, warm climate vintage delivers.
Barbaresco producers typically release their wines a year before those of Barolo, reflecting the less stringent requirements of the DOCG. As such we can get a glimpse of the quality of 2011 by sampling the current crop of Barbaresco as well as dipping our tongues into all the straight Nebbiolo that makes its way to our shores. While I consider Barbaresco affordable, it’s obvious that these wines are not inexpensive. For real value your best bet in Nebbiolo are they myriad base bottlings of Langhe Nebbiolo and/or Nebbiolo d’Alba, particularly those from some of the top producers whose Nebbiolo can compete with many Barolo and Barbaresco. 
Today I offer you lists of my favorite Nebbiolo and Barbaresco from my visits to Piedmont this year. You can find examples from 2010 through 2012 on shelves right now. Of these my favorite for Nebbiolo is 2011, as it is for Barbaresco as well though 2010 Barbaresco can be very exciting as well. The base Nebbiolos though tend to have benefited from the added warmth of the 2011 vintage, a vintage where the top sites yielded fruit that might be a bit over-ripe or at a minimum particularly rich in sugar and thus alcohol, but at the less well positioned sites the fruit seems for the most part to have reached perfect, if full maturity and the wines show that. The Nebbiolo and Barbaresco in bottle and the Barolo in barrel are across the board the most exciting group of Nebbiolo based wines I’ve ever experienced from a warmer vintage.
What this means for the average consumer is more fruit, softer tannins, and earlier approachability than usual. All of which have traditionally been issues facing Nebbiolo based wines when it comes to consumers with new world palates. Which is not to say that these wines will turn off those with old world plates. These are not 2000s, 1997s, or 2007s. They are a cut well above those vintages and one which I am thoroughly enjoying as I broaden my appreciation of these fine wines!

12 Great Nebbiolo's Worth Exploring!
One last note. While in Treiso I visited the Rizzi winery and tasted both from barrel and from the cellar. As further proof  of the quality of the 2011 vintage let me say that Rizzi’s 2011 Boito is outrageous, dark, powerful and intense. It will be a fabulous Riserva.  Pajore is all perfume and spice and totally seductive, and Nervo is linear and elegant with the Rizzi an amalgam of all looking very promising and pretty. These were out of barrel but just about ready to be bottled. The wines out of bottles are listed below and show that while Barbaresco is ready before most Barolo, they are long lived wines that warrant more attention from consumers.
Deeply burnished on the nose, with a hint of Chinato layered over dried cherries, a hint of ash and dried cherry wood. This is a big wine, a powerful wine, a bit dark and folded in on itself today but each layer seems distinct, fine and clear. Air brings out a mineral aspect on the palate with gentle medicinal tones that lead to a long finish which shows off the power, elegance, and finesse of this grand site. The  tart red berry fruits, a bit of strawberry with lemon juice on top show fine persistence through the long finish ending with a bit of a spicy  finale. 93pts
Already showing aromatic maturity on the nose this explodes from the glass with aromas of Crayon, damp soil, pine cone, dried raspberry, fine blond tobacco, cranberry and a bit of hightoned middle eastern spice. Still tight and focused on the palate with subtle spicy herb and sandalwood flavors on on entry, this opens on the midpalate to reveal a broad and open pool of orange rind framed wild strawberry flavors which are washed away on the powerful and focused backend which reveals a streak of brilliant red cherry fruit that shows great follow through, along with fabulously ripe tannins through the long finish which ends with a lovely pop of rosebud aromatics in the mouth. Quite tannic and almost ready, this is gorgeous. 93pts
For comparison’s sake I list the current releases here. 
Smoky on the nose with slightly jammy aromas of frutti del bosco, a bit of sandalwood on the nose, and underlying aromas of blueberries and tar. Fine ripe tannins, greet the palate along with acids that lend a bit of orange rind framing notes to the very focused, gorgeous purity to the red wild berry fruit on the plate. With a little balsam notion the backend, this finishes rather tightly with furry, lingering tannins. This needs a few years to fully integrate. 91pts
Powerful with great aromas of fresh fruit on the nose with hints of mulberry, sandalwood, spiced and flinty with an almost peachy note. In the mouth this is decidedly broad and a bit soft with supple tannins, though great acids adds some power and some weight to the rich raspberry fruit on the palate. the tannins build on the backend lending this grace and purity in the mouth. A really terrific effort. 92pts
Deep and powerful on the nose with huge perfumes, spicy and rich with great woodland aromas, pine needles, icy, mineral soil, a bit of pine bark, and dark, tobacco stained berry fruit. Already almost velvety on entry, this exhibits huge structure in the mouth with a poised and faceted feel along with compelling depth and perfume to the wild black berry and blackcurrant fruit on the palate. Long tannic and savory on the finish which is replete with mineral, juniper, and balsamic accents.  Elegant and powerful. 93pts
Big aromas of burnished sIiced cherry fruit greets the nose along with spicy, almost peppery accents and soil tones that lends this an almost animale quality. With lovely fruit on the attack this shows off considerable power and gains nice balsamic spice notes on the midpalate but this feels a bit less full on the back end, tannins are very ripe, and while there is really gorgeous fruit here the wine lacks a bit of grip through the finish. 89pts
First year for the reserva
Tight on the nose with blueberry in alcohol and medicinal aromas. The finest focus of the wines tasted here today, this is clean and taut, tight on entry with tightly packed fine tannins fanning out broadly on the palate. remaining quite fresh and crisp in the mouth with good acids, this is savory and tight right through the moderately long finish. With the fruit is a bit in hiding today, this comes off as a bit lean but powerful and focused. 90pts
Wines from the Produttori del Barbaresco
Two weeks before harvest there were a couple of days of rain
With sweet woodsy forest floor aromas on the nose, this is quite aromatic, with a lovely floral top note, integrated spice accents, fine apple skin, red lingonberry, and wild strawberry aromas. Not shy with the alcohol in the mouth, this is smooth and polished on the palate with  good power and length, and real drive from the tannins, though this seems deceptively small today with astringent red berried fruit and  a little hint of forest floor bitterness on the palate. Tight and in need of additional time in the bottle. 89pts
Sweet herbs, slightly roasted red fruit fruit, cocoa, and an incipient truffle note appear on the nose. With sweet fruity on entry, soft tannins, big size, and great acids this makes quite an impression in the mouth but the tannins show a slight bitter edge, the sweetness comes from the rather high alcohol, and the fruit is decidedly simple in the mouth with lots of small red berry fruit that lacks detail and complexity. Fine but this is a bit short and less interesting than usual. 87pts
Big burnished fruit with a slightly roasted quality greets the nose along with a wonderfully spicy character  bright with rosemary and menthol top notes. Smooth and silky, with some power in the mouth, there’s a burnished, slightly spicy sandalwood quality here, a little vitamin c, slightly mineral quality as well on a palate that is pretty seamless. This shows good power, not the most complex bottling today but with good persistence and follow through on the finish. 90pts
Small raspberry fruit, sandalwood,  and lots of rose petals with a slightly dusty edge show up on the nose which carries with a sense of sweetness to the fruit.  Bright on the palate, and very lively in the mouth with raspberry and cranberry fruit, along with hints of wild cherry. This is really lovely with a playful balance, though it finishes a touch short with hard tannin on the cherry cough drop finish. Should be fairly elegant if the tannins soften up. 89pts
Big and detailed on the nose which shows wild, dark cherry fruit, flecked with bits of mint and tree bark, very detailed with an unusual, sweet creamy note, almost taffy like on the nose. packed with power and delicacy, this shows off lovely balance on the palate which is rich with cherry pit fruit, firm in texture, full of energy on the palate, even if the acids are a touch soft. Broad, fruity, and nicely fresh in the mouth thanks to the zesty tannins, this also exhibits good length, but it is not shy on alcohol. A lovely wine that shows both ripeness of fruit and a sort of windswept character. I bet this will improve though the alcohol will always be apparent. 90pts
After a tight floral note opening note on the nose this turns very precise,  deep and savory with a fairly strong wood smoke top notes, briar, pipe tobacco, and strawberry aromas. In the mouth this exhibits a lovely, smooth polished feel, nuanced but smooth, with fine tannins and integrated acidity supporting really precise and crisp woodsy red berry fruits. This has excellent purity this year, and good length with a balance of tannin and acid that puts this near the top of the class. 92pts
Burnished wood pops on the earthy nose, which is dark yet fresh fruit, with a touch of quinine spice accenting the tight, tough and clay mineral, though sweetly floral toned nose. Big rich berry fruit greets the palate here along with nuanced spice notes that are wrapped up in a smooth, lithe palate that is rich with deep mineral notes that lead to a dark tight long finish that does show a hint of warmth. The fruit really turns quite dark cherried in the mouth, supported by nice round tannins that help to drive the briar wood and strawberry seed toned finish. This is complete and deep. A real winner. 93pts
Additional Barbaresco wines tasted in Italy 2014
A step up in aromatic depth and complexity from the Tre Stelle and just gorgeous with complex floral aromas rich  with mineral flecked wild cherry, wild berry fruit and just a hint of lime zest. A little extract of fruit on the entrance with good weight and power on the palate, this is obviously a little young and chewy though long in the mouth with ripe tannins. Air brings out very pure wild cherry pit fruit, a little dusty and decidedly soil driven on the long finish, incredible emerging rose petal perfumes, serious depth to the flavors, and attractive complexity both on the nose and in the mouth. Fabulous wine. 94pts
Tight on the nose with very fine rose petal aromas and balsamic tinged red berry fruit, raspberry and limestone. Superbly elegant, pure and delicate in the mouth with late arriving tannins and intensity of fruit that leads to great intensity and weight on the back palate. While fairly tannic, the crisp tannins are well judged and present on the finish which is a bit tight, irony, and very aromatic with red fruit aromas with a hint of mint in the mouth. Tight and promising. 92pts
Rosehips, clay, cherry and strawberry aromas all show up on the cool, mineral rich nose. Crisp on entry long, and dusty in the mouth with a young,  tight and,  delicate feel. Showing off hints of mint and rose in the mouth retro nasally, this remains very firm and tight on the palate with very important tannins that are superbly fine grained. A bit warm and spicy on the finish, This has a lovely nose and the structure is gorgeous, though the fruit is hiding a bit today. 92pts
In Barbaresco, a part of the vineyard was replanted three years ago, the last vintage with only older vine juice,
Big on the nose, deep and rich with dried fruit, leather and spice notes underpinned with hints of autumnal herbs, candied cherries, astringent spices and dry soil notes. Round and opulent in the mouth, this shows a nice blend of freshness of flavor and bright acids with tannins that are both ripe and just beginning to soften. Fairly tense and clear on the palate this still feels firm in the mouth with mossy cherry fruit on the palate leading to a backend which gains some leathery and dry spice tones before finishing with fairly important tannins and fine length, all amarena cherry and strawberry toned.  Pretty classic stuff with fine persistence and power. 92pts
Pretty on the nose with underlying  clay aromas topped with a little sweetness of dark fruit and nice pure macerated rosepetals and camphor top notes. This shows big yet precise fruit in the mouth with lovely, ripe tannins lending this a  velvety feel already. A little spicy on the palate, this has good  energy in the mouth and fine length. In an elegant style and pretty sweetly fruited, though remaining fairly complex and refined. 91pts
Strawberries in alcohol and leather greet the nose which smells a bit sweet and picks up a hint of carob with air. Bright acids are obvious on entry, and this is immediately  this is drinking quite well with small, slightly angular tannins supporting lots of strawberry fruit with little flecks of jammy black raspberry fruit that fills the palate and extends through the long finish. Well balanced, but not very nuanced and very fruit driven, this should have a long life ahead though it may never be the most complex. 90pts
From vineyards in Barbaresco and Treiso
Gorgeous on the nose, rich with dried rose petals, dusty earth, menthol, nettle, chalk, woodsmoke a hint of game even and burnished amarena cherries and small plum fruits. Bright acids make this juicy and clear on the palate, perhaps a touch simple but with good concentration and lovely sour cherry, raspberry tinged fruit. The palate lacks the complexity found on the nose, but shows fine energy to the fruit and finishes with well judged but classic tannic bite, with a hint of leather and dried fruit adding some nuance to the finish. 90pts
2 years in big wood
Old wood, rose hips, hints of clove oil come together on the spicy nose along with slightly stewy cherry fruit, very aromatic with some newer wood here as well. Lean, fresh, and precise with tightly wound tannins in the mouth, moderately rich, with a little strawberry note on the backend. This is elegant in the mouth with a slight dip on the palate, then there's attractive richness and slightly sweet fruit notes with nice length and a hint of tobacco on the finish, which is a touch short and chunky today. This should improve as it fills out but may always be a little lean. 88pts
Tight on the nose with a fine cigar wrapper blond tobacco note, earthy, dried, pressed flowers, and hints of mint and camfor. Very smooth in the mouth with good acids and modest, ripe tannins that float around in the pool of orange tinged, orange acid supported wild strawberry flavors on the palate. Tight and acid driven on the finish, which shows lots of mineral depth. A bit minty in the mouth, good length, warm finish. 88pts
Small red fruits, sandalwood,  and hints of cinnamon, mushroom, and  leather appear on the nose along with a hint of peach. fairly tannic in the mouth and medium bodied, quite woodsy, savory, and a little tough in the mouth with menthol and strawberry flavors. Tannic and tough on the finish, with dry tannins that are not that well integrated.  Strives for elegance but is weighed down by tannins today. 87pts
Nebbiolo tasted in Italy in 2014
With awesome aromatics that savory, complex and deep with subtle woodsy red fruit aromas, wild strawberry, camphor, and just a hint of sweet, roasted wild cherry, this is absolutely alluring on the nose. In the mouth one finds a  perfect middleweight Nebiolo, perhaps a bit on the sweeter side with all the fruit, camphor, and spice, and savory complexity found on the nose along with super purity. One barely notices the finely ripe tannins until they eek out past the big strawberry and orange peel flavors on the moderately long finish. Beautiful Nebbiolo. 93pts
Rose petals, camphor, sand, and light red fruit emerge on the nose along with a hint of black spice and a low innate sweetness. Soft and supple in the mouth, this flows over the palate with lovely bright fresh fruit with small tannins add a nice hint of firmness on the palate. Complex flavors of rosehips, burnished wild cherry fruit, a hint of watermelon rind, and those firm, dusty, little tannins linger on the long finish. This is so elegant and refined showing power and delicacy with a softness here that wraps around the palate. 92pts
Full west piece of Merenda, less sand, fresh hill that comes Vergne, more sand across the way in Merenda
Barrels for malo, bottled in september
A hint of cherry wood spice greets the nose which is very fragrant, pure , high toned and complex with nuanced women's perfume and  rose petal aromas.  Light and elegant on entry, this then turns pretty powerful with bright acids and round tannins that are opulent for a Nebbiolo. There’s great fruit here, fresh and deep yet transparent, a touch short today perhaps, but with such a fine texture. This is just beautiful Nebbiolo, gaining some complexity on the backend, a little sandalwood, savory nuance, slightly leathery and dry on the wild cherry toned finish with a hint of licorice on the finale. 91pts
Extract like aromas of fruit and roses greet the nose, followed by soil tones and hints of darker fruit. With lovely, spicy, cocoa tinged cherry strudel fruit on the entry, this is warm and supple on the palate, soft, and seamless with lots of depth and power to the extracty and slightly jammy wild cherry fruit that leads to back palate full of gorgeous raspberry strawberry and rhubarb fruit supported by fine grained tannins that lend just a hint of spice on the long finish. i would love to try this again in two or three years. 91pts
On year of big wood, outside of Barolo zone , higher 550m still in monforte,
20 days
Aromas of cherries in alcohol, camphor, rose petal, and pollen explode on the nose. On the palate this is supple and elegant, flowing across the palate with tarry fruit that show lovely subtle minty nuance and  fine grained tannins on the palate followed by a very long finish rich with impressive spice and drive to the slightly dark berry fruit. This really combines complexity and drinkability. 91pts
Shows a woodsy, butchers wax, watermelon rind aroma on the nose followed by a white cherry note, and then savory, briar wood top and emerging rose petal top notes. .A little tight in the mouth with a big tannic structure that sits just above the fruit today and just clips the finish. there’s great acidity here, which helps to lift the fruit on the plate and adds some softening material to help cover the tannins with  big cherried fruit and spicy soil notes on the back end and through the moderately long, pure red fruited finish. Needs a bit more time but this should be very good. 90pts
Tight and raw on the nose nose which is quite medicinal with aromas of camphor and barbershop antiseptic over a woodsy, cool, composed and focused Core. There's lovely wild raspberry fruit on the palate and fairly important tannins, great acids, but this, having been bottled in January, is still tight and a bit tough going but shows depth, power and balance, Long finish, lovely watermelon, wild,raspberry, and  cherry wood flavors, really showing very well, this needs a bit of time but should be excellent, surprisingly rich. 89pts
Very floral on the nose, filled with rose petals, red fruit, lingonberry fruit, a little nettle and minty. Smooth, juicy and very approachable and pretty Nebbiolo, easy going with bright berry fruit supported by crisp tannins, a hint of purple fruit, youthfulness along with spicy accents on the backend. rather full on the midpalate, with good length featuring nice dry tannins on the finish.  88pts
A subzone of Monteroero
Grapes are bought from a single vineyard
10 months in wood, almost all botte
Nice classic nose of rose hips, prune plum and cherry in alcohol.  Smooth and  nicely balanced in the mouth this is easygoing on the palate and very much in the style of the vintage. With good fruit, modest complexity, classic hints of leather appear early in the palate, this is rather a clean fresh finish, and classic Nebbiolo, with good acids and  tannins that are notably ripe and almost soft here, typical of Roero and 2011. There’s good persistence to the fruit, as this turns a bit more complex and even firms up a touch in the mouth with nice perfumed wild sour cherry and dried red plum on the finish. 88pts
Just a selection of less ripe, less powerful grapes, a little Barolo one to one and a half years in botte, very Barolo like elevage
Lovely fruity on the nose with aromas of wild raspberry in alcohol that are light and fragrant, followed by a bit of a jammy wild berry note. Opening with good acids and ripe tannins this displays lovely, burnished fruits on the palate in a super classic flavor profile. With a good hit of tannin on the finish this seems rather short and front loaded but at the same time quite complete. Should be better in a year. 88pts
A little sweet edge to the aromas of nettles, sage, crisp cranberry, and a bit of orange rind on the nose. While rather big on entry, this quickly gains some elegance in the mouth with very fine grained dusty tannins layered under rich, savory fruit, burnished red fruit. Airy, light and with attractive minerality on the palate, this reveals  lots of soft, ripe tannins on the finish along with lingering strawberry seed and slightly chalky mineral notes. Simultaneously soft, supple and a bit four square in the mouth. 88pts
40% le Coste, 60% the last rows of serralunga bosca retro, they don't age well enough to make Barolo,
bottled yesterday
Herbal and  tight on the nose with a savory stemminess layered over frutti del bosco, wild raspberry, and red currant fruit. Delicate yet powerful in the mouth, this lacks a bit of harmony on the palate, it’s not rough, just disjointed from bottling. It is rich, juicy, full and fairly powerful with an innate sweetness to it and lots of fruit with notes of minerality adding some complexity already and the ripe tannins lending a spicy cast to the palate. There’s a hint of VA on the finish adding some lift but this seems to be quite an elegant expression of nebbiolo. 88pts
Lovely aromas of rose hips, sandy soil, dark cherry, a little black tea and pollen spice come together on the very fresh nose which picks up a small prune in alcohol note on entry. This is a big, mouth filling wine that is a little hollow on the midpalate needs to flesh out. Rich, ripe and still quite structured, this shows all the ripeness of the vintage with its telltale freshness and perfume. The finish is moderately tannic and tobacco and earth laced, and while this stumbles on the midpalate today if it fills out it will be lovely. 87pts
All SS.  Mostly rose clone
Gorgeous aromatics of slightly jammy wild cherry and  strawberry fruit are light and perfumed on the nose with rose petal accents. Pretty fresh and zesty on the palate with juicy acidity supporting just under ripe cherry and strawberry fruit framed with a hint of orange rind. Very clean, and even a bit lean in the mouth, this comes off as quite focused and refreshing with nice abundant but soft tannins emerging on the finish. Easy drinking 87pts
1 year in wood. Fruit from Roddi
Rose petals and chalk pop on the nose over a peach base note with a hint of va adding lift to the classic rose hips and raspberry/strawberry in alcohol aromas. Nice raw tannins on entry support lovey burnished sour cherry  fruit in the mouth that is framed by hint of watermelon peel,  and sandalwood accents. With good length and nice tense tannins making this just a  little tough on the finish, this could use a bit more time but it’s already enjoyable for its purity and bracing, structured style. 87pts
Soft on the nose with sandy soil tones, a hint of watermelon rind along with a touch of va adding lift to light rosemary, and even almost peppery spice notes. There’s nice depth on the palate which shows off subtle flavors of chalk, tart red berry fruit and gentle balsamic tones. and while this is a touch tough in the mouth, it does turn fresher on the backend and through the modest finish. Subtle but the balance is quite attractive with everything rather in harmony here. 87pts
Nice, slightly herbal, and vaguely medicinal aromas of wild black cherry cough lozenge with hints of cola and licorice greet the nose. Much cooler on entry than the nose suggest,  though this is big and fruity and has a hint of rs most likely. The solid acids keep this in balance with the quite ripe and slightly candied fruit on the palate yielding to a flow of green herbs and old wood on the backend and through the modest finish where fresh Nebbiolo tannins add a crisp snap.  A bit chunky and firm in style. 87pts
Monte Roero
Big raspberry aromas with a liquory edge first greet the nose followed by lots of strawberry fruit, a bit candied but fresh, with hints of black raspberry candy. Smooth and rich in the mouth with perhaps a hint of RS as well. There are rich if gentle macerated herb tinged black berry and  raspberry flavors on the palate with just a hint of mineral adding detail through the moderately long finish, which is plush, fruity, and a bit sticky. Not my style of wine but one that has its appeal. 87pts
Light herb stem, rose stem, and hints of mint accent the sweet fruit on the nose that has a jammy wild raspberry quality to it and hints of chocolate chip cookies,Fairly tannic on entry and bright with lots of acids, in a moderately powerful style that is very front loaded with sour cherry fruit and then tight and tannic on the backend powerful, and dry tannins on the dry, herbal, and tough  finish, though this remains very fresh and linear. 86pts
Hugely balsamic on the nose, which is quite aromatic and fresh with aromas of red frutti del bosco, camphor, and a hint of something a little spicy. With high acids on entry, this comes off as a bit lean, with sour cherry, in a simple, clean and decisive style. the finish is long and   fresh, if simple and easy going. 85pts
Below 15 years old, 20-23 days on skins, 6 months in wood
Very balsamic on the nose with a huge pine resin top note,  some sweet woody notes, sweet red fruit and a hint of mint. Rather sweet/tart in the mouth, though mostly tart with lots of cranberry and raspberry flavors. This is less balsamic in the mouth than on the nose, but it retains some of the woodland spice character through the  modest finish, which lacks some fruit covering the dry finishing tannins. 85pts