Barbaresco's getting hot fast and we are now in what may be a fairly short window when good buying opportunities abound. Tighter allocations and higher prices seem to be just around the corner.
How did we get here? Sottimano's story explains a lot.
It started in the late 1960s, when Sottimano, based in Neive with vines there and in Treiso, was among the first to follow in Gaja's steps and set up shop selling domaine bottlings. You can still, very occasionally, find old bottles of Sottimano from the 1970s and they are amazing. Then, in the 1990s, Sottimano went through a modern phase. Like so many other producers, they made wine with too much new oak.
But the domaine started change things up in 2004. Not everything at once, of course, but between 2004 and around 2010, Sottimano cut down drastically on new wood, eliminated all chemicals in the vineyard, and switched to wild yeast fermentation. The results have been stunning. As Kerin O’Keefe puts it in her great book, Barolo & Barbaresco, Sottimano “has undergone a radical and very welcome change in all aspects of its wine-making philosophy [and] is now turning out terroir-driven Barbaresco that are both exquisite and complex.”