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Paitin's Starda Nebbiolo: Basically Barbaresco, At A Fraction of the Price

Stylized image of Paitin's Starda Nebbiolo

The part of our job that involves selecting Nebbiolos to write about from the 2021 vintage in Piedmont is incredibly easy. Everything we have tasted is delicious. We assume that the the 2021 Barolos and Barbarescos will be some of the best ever made, but for now, we can assure that the region’s “baby wines” — varietally labeled wines such as Barbera, Dolcetto and Nebbiolo — are some of the tastiest fresh wines we've ever tasted from the region.

So we certainly could have thrown proverbial darts to come up with today’s Nebbiolo story. Instead, we tried the 2021 version of our old favorites, the Nebbiolo “Starda” from Paitin, and decided that you simply can’t get a tastier red wine for under $20. It just gushes pure cherry fruit, blood orange, flowers and spice, and we love it.

Paitin is one of a handful of traditionalist producers that specializes in the vineyards of Barbaresco located in the village of Neive. There, they have vines, now over 40 years old, planted in a Cru called Bricco di Neive. They can legally produce Barbaresco from these vines, and given the age of the vines, this is exactly what most producers would do. But Paitin dedicates this plot to making straight Nebbiolo.

Even once the grapes get to the winery, there is a tendency to veer towards Barbaresco. A straight Nebbiolo is usually allowed to macerate (i.e. soak on the grapes’ skins) for only a short period of time. This one macerates for over 30 days — a long time even by the standards of traditional Barbaresco.

It is only in élévage (raising in barrel) that Paitin’s Nebbiolo takes an off-ramp that prevents it from becoming Barbaresco. Barbaresco requires two years of aging in cask (all large, Slavonian oak casks in Paitin’s winery), and the Starda Bebbiolo is aged for just one.

That makes a difference. Paitin’s traditionalist Barbarescos are austere wines that require patient cellaring. The Nebbiolo Starda is already on fire. 

Paitin, Nebbiolo “Starda”, 2021 $23.99

This story was originally featured in our newsletter, where it was offered at a special subscribers-only discount. Subscribers get special offers, the first look at new discoveries, invites to events, and stories about wines and the artisans that make them.