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2016 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva

2016 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva

97 VM


Critic Reviews

The 2016 Rabajà Riserva is drop-dead gorgeous, starting with its luminous ruby color and beautiful aromas of forest berry, rose, iris, menthol and star anise. Full-bodied, delicious and focused, the elegantly structured palate features juicy black cherry, crushed raspberry, licorice and saline mineral notes before a minty close. While expressive and savory, it also shows the restraint of the best world-class wines and is beautifully balanced, with polished tannins and fresh acidity. What a stunner. Drink 2024–2036. Abv: 14.5%

Kerin O’Keefe | 99 KO
The 2016 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà is stellar. Just starting to open aromatically, the 2016 is superb in this tasting. Sweet macerated cherry, spice, new leather, tobacco and dried herbs all grace the 2016 with notable aromatic complexity. As always, the Riserva is an ethereal, engaging wine with less immediacy and mid-palate than the other Barbarescos here, but in exchange tons of nuance. This is the best showing yet for the 2016, a wine that satisfies both the hedonistic and intellectual senses.

Vinous Media | 97 VM
Displaying great structure and aromatics within a medium frame, the 2016 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja’ is lifted with licorice, cranberry cocktail, and pink peppercorn. It is a gorgeous wine with great balance, a long finish, and its fruit holding throughout. Ripe, fresh, and not showing any signs of maturity, this is a fantastic and racy wine that delivers a lot of pleasure. Angular, fresh, and ripe with grenadine, cranberry, and salty earth, it is an outstanding wine from Cortese to drink over the next 20 years.

Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JD
The Giuseppe Cortese 2016 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà is a late release and one I am sure this winery is quite happy to see go to market given the hype surrounding this excellent vintage. There is a very pretty smoothness here, both in terms of the aromatic delivery and the mouthfeel, which shows how nicely Nebbiolo can reach balance. The bouquet is lithe and delicate with wild berry, crushed rose petal, white licorice and campfire ash. Some 6,000 bottles were made. Great job.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RP
Packed with sweet, ripe cherry, raspberry, rose, mineral and spice flavors, this red is also fluid and balanced, driven by lively acidity and firm, well-integrated tannins. Fresh, invigorating and long, this is approachable now, yet will be better in 2-3 years. Best from 2024 through 2042. 500 cases made, 50 cases imported.

Wine Spectator | 94 RP
The aromas of rose stems and black cherries with some redcurrants are enticing. Also bark and earth. It’s full-to medium-bodied with very fine tannins and a fresh and bright finish. It’s just starting to open now and shows such finesse and beauty. Drink or hold.

James Suckling | 94 JS
High-toned red cherry and berry flavors show a hint of sweetness that’s balanced by a pleasant amaro bitterness in this Riserva. It’s just beginning to show a hint of earthy development, yet is still tightly coiled, its powerful ferrous tannins needing time to relax.

Wine & Spirits Magazine | 94 W&S

Wine Details for 2016 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva

Type of Wine Barbaresco : A good Barbaresco traditionally conjures a perfume of powerful floral aroma, and massages your tastebuds with gentle violets and roses creating a juicy burst of cherry and truffle. If you decide to let the wine age, it can develop smokey, earthy notes that round out the experience beautifully. No one is left indifferent after tasting one of these masterpieces, we can assure you of that.
Varietal Nebbiolo : Nebbiolo is the superstar grape variety and driving force behind the top-quality red wines of northwestern Italy. The Italian winegrowing appellation of Piedmont is covered by a sea of Nebbiolo grape vines. It is the undisputed king of grapes in the twin hillside villages of Barolo and Barbaresco, where some of the world’s most coveted wines hail from.

Quality over quantity is the motto for this subtly powerful grape. A mere 5,500 hectares of Nebbiolo are cultivated around the world, of which, more than 4,000 are found in Langhe and Roero. The varietal has been growing here since the 1st century and has been called Nebbiolo since the 1200’s. Like most ancient grape varietals, there are many speculations as to its true origin, but what is certain is that in the hills of Langhe and Roero, Nebbiolo has found its ideal environment.

Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon which is a versatile grape, Nebbiolo has not thrived when planted in wine regions outside of northern Italy. Nebbiolo is more like the finicky Pinot Noir: difficult to grow and highly reflective of terroir. The varietal thrives on calcareous marl, a lime-rich mudstone that is found on the right back of the Tanaro River (home to Barolo and Barbaresco) where it grows best in its warm climate and ample sunlight. The growing conditions in the hilly areas of Barolo and Barbaresco are optimal and produce some of the most sought after wines not only in Italy, but in the world.

The Nebbiolo vine buds earlier than most grapes grown in Piedmont but harvested last. The berries do not appear until long after flowering, making it very susceptible to poor weather conditions. The name Nebbiolo is thought to have come from the Italian word for fog, nebbia, which is common during the fall when the local hillsides are covered in a ghostly haze.

The iron fist in a velvet glove, which is a witty slogan for the wine of Barolo, can aptly be used to define the Nebbiolo grape itself. The thin-skinned, light colored grape packs a punch, producing wines that are light ruby when young and fades to a pale garnet when older. This characteristic should not be mistaken as watery; wine produced from Nebbiolo is super concentrated and flavorful with high acidity and tannins. When properly vinified, the best vintages will last for decades.

Despite the challenges of this fussy grape, some growers in the “New World” are trying their hand at harvesting Nebbiolo. In South Australia young producers are making wines that are fruiter and less tannic than their Italian counterparts. This novel take on the Italian grape has prompted California, Chile and South Africa to begin small plantings of Nebbiolo.

The iron fist in a velvet glove, the undisputed king of Piedmont and the deceptively powerful Nebbiolo grape may be limited in quantity, much-coveted, nearly exclusive to Italy, demands aging and can sometimes command high prices; the wait, the price and the difficulty in finding it is rewarded with one of the greatest wines made from the mighty Nebbiolo grape varietal.

Country Italy : Italy is renowned as one of the world’s greatest gastronomic havens; from certified Prosciutto di Parma to the sea-side seafood eateries on the island of Sicily. However, this epicurean experience could not possibly be as hedonistic without the ethereal combination of the country’s plethora of fine wines. It seems unfair that a nation should be able to boast, both, some of the world’s greatest cuisine as well as its greatest wines. Italian wine is one of the most sought after in the world, and has become the second most produced in the world, behind only France.

Stretching an impressive 736 miles from northern Italy to the peninsula’s southern tip, the country’s geography generates an enormous array of topography, climate and soil structure. This is an extremely important quality of its winegrowing and making industry which lays claim to nearly 550 different grape varietals, which all desire their own necessities, in terms of terroir and climate.

The still red wines of Italy truly characterize the nation’s vast and expansive terroir; Nebbiolo dominates Piedmont, where Barolo and Barbaresco reign king and queen of the region’s production. Hailing from Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany, the rockstar Sangiovese grape has become synonymous with greatness. Vin Santo sweet wines have taken on a mighty feat of competing with the glorious wines of Sauternes, and of course, Prosecco. Prosecco, located in Trieste (northeast Italy) and its creation of luxuriously effervescent styles of wine has become Italy’s answer to Champagne. The Glera grape variety, which has become synonymous with the name Prosecco, is the main ingredient and is beloved in the appellation where the village of Prosecco’s name has become world renowned.

The blurred boundary between Italy and the countries of Slovenia and Austria, where German influence still resonates through Friuli wines. The prevalence of Riesling and other such grape varietals is high in this region and have become extremely popular on today’s market.

With nearly 702,000 hectares of grapevines covering the massive and diverse landscape, Italy’s annual average of 48.3 million hectoliters of wine production is second only to France in terms of volume and Spain in terms of hectares of vines. The country is vast and overwhelming when it comes to the culinary arts, but perhaps even this is overshadowed by its production of some of the world’s most sought after wines, whether the omnipresent Chianti to the highly collectible and sought after Amarone della Valpolicalla.

Region Piedmont : Italian culture values the unbreakable bond we share with family and very few things showcase that connection quite like a shared meal. Therefore, it's only natural that wine would also take its place as an important cultural aspect. Fine Italian produce always goes well with a variety of dishes, and that makes these wines an incredibly popular choice among wine enthusiasts who appreciate a good get-together. The foothills of the Alps help define this region's significantly colder, continental winter climate, but during the summer, the conditions are similar to the region of Burgundy.

Flavor-wise, this region has a mind-boggling variety to offer. Not only is there a healthy selection of approved grapes to work with, but the soil often varies from estate to estate, letting every wine stand out. Expect to encounter powerful notes of rose petal flavor, spices, cherries, dried herbs, anise, and many more. Every bottle has a story to tell. Those of you with a tendency to hoard and collect fine wines will be especially intrigued, as Piedmont wines tend to mature extremely well, developing nuance and becoming more and more delicious as time goes on.

Subregion Langhe
Appellation Barbaresco


Producer Giuseppe Cortese

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