Co-operatives are usually best avoided by wine consumers who appreciate high quality. This is because most of them focus on volume, i.e. high yield. There is one major exception; Produttori del Barbaresco. This co-operative lifted its game big time in the 1990s. It has access to a number of top class vineyards, maybe even better than Gaja in Barbaresco. The Montestefano is one of their finest.
A few days ago, I opened a bottle of the 2000 Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano Reserva. The 18 year old wine is probably drinking at its peak now. The flavours are an intriguing mix of red cherry, tobacco, some green leaf, and (non sweet) marzipan. The structure is still great, with delicate acidity shining through.
This wine is very dry, Nebbiolo-like, with silky tannins and long flavours. The only downside; this full-bodied wine is slightly alcoholic on the mid-palate. As a compliment to protein food, it shows its strength particularly well, and the alcohol is not very noticeable.