Although Nebbiolo's thin skins and heavy tannins make it a demanding variety, and its aging potential, when done well, is well acknowledged, we don't talk about Piemonte vintages with the same reverence as Bordeaux or Burgundy. Let's change that up a little by focusing on one exquisite vintage that's currently quite approachable: 1964.

Vintage reports for this period are scarce, even among mainstream sources like Vinous, but we are fortunate that at least two prominent winemakers kept extensive notes on each vintage. One of the first producers to layout Barolo's vineyards, Renato Ratti, gave this vintage the highest ranking on his vintage chart, "annata eccezionale" (excellent vintage). Angelo Gaja contributed his notes for all the vintages from 1958 through 2011 about ten years ago, recalling a generous crop with excellent autumn circumstances leading up to a fully ripe mid-November harvest.

In terms of winemaking, we are firmly in the era prior to new oak barriques, shorter macerations, and the general desire for an earlier-drinking kind of wine. Long macerations, high tannins, and aging in massive chestnut vessels or Slavonian oak were the standard at the period, making the wine difficult to drink young but allowing it to age for decades.

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Why we like it:

• "Annata Eccezionale" (exceptional vintage) in Renato Ratti's vintage char — his highest ranking — and fondly remembered by Angelo Gaja as well..
• An era when traditional winemaking dominated: long macerations, high tannins, basically no new oak..
• Most of these wines are quite mature now.

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