2015 Giuseppe Cortese "Rabaja" Barbaresco

SKU #1408519 95 points James Suckling

 Wow. What a nose of pure blueberries, rose petals, lavender, crushed minerals, elderflower and so much vivid orange and candied citrus peel. Full body, electric acidity, firm and wonderfully polished tannins and a long, mineral finish. Drink in 2021.  (7/2018)

95 points Wine Enthusiast

 This opens with aromas of ripe berry, crushed herb, scorched soil and dark culinary spice. Mirroring the nose, the firm full-bodied palate evokes juicy Marasca cherry, black raspberry, star anise and clove. Taut, tightly knit and noble tannins provide the framework. Give it time to unwind and fully develop. Drink 2023-2035. *Cellar Selection* (KO)  (2/2019)

93 points Vinous

 Cortese's 2015 Barbaresco Rabajà is open-knit and attractive, qualities that can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring given the wine's mid-weight structure. Crushed raspberry, rose petal, mint, dried herbs, orange zest and anise add super-classic Nebbiolo signatures to this very pretty, inviting Barbaresco from Cortese. The 2015 is all class. In 2015 Cortese did not bottle their flagship Riserva. Instead, all of the wine went into this, the straight Barbaresco Rabajà. The 2015 spent 20 months in cask. (AG)  (10/2018)

93 points Wine Spectator

 This red shows an appealing combination of cherry, licorice and underbrush aromas and flavors. Smoke and leathery accents add depth, and the finish is long and solid. Best from 2021 through 2036. (BS)  (2/2019)

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Price: $49.99
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By: Mike Parres | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/19/2019 | Send Email
Love the 2015 vintage of this wine. The nose brings aromas of dried cherry and roses, and on the palate you will find raspberries, tar, tobacco, truffle, and a little Langhe dust with a good tannin structure. I love the elegance to this wine, and with all of its varietal purity here (Rabaja at its best), I recommend decanting for a couple hours...or even aging a couple of years (up to five or six years if you are that patient). This would show extremely well with a wild mushroom risotto or a barbecue Tri-tip.

By: John Downing | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/20/2019 | Send Email
Cortese has long been among the top producers in the Barbaresco zone yet has remained seemingly under the radar by comparison to many of their contemporaries. They are also one of the few to own a portion of the famed Rabaja vineyard and their 2015 from this site is sublime. It captures the warmth of the vintage with sweet, forward fruit and ripe tannins yet retains plenty of acidity that allows for aging. Whether you open the wine today or stash it away for a later date, it's certain to impress.

By: Kate Soto | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/18/2019 | Send Email
This is a gorgeous wine. Rose petals and black tea leaves and an epically long finish. There is an understated elegance here; it's not showy or flashy at first, but once you take a sip, you realize this wine has got the goods. I'd invite it home any day.

By: Kaj Stromer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/17/2019 | Send Email
Stylistically, this is my dream Barbaresco. That should come as no surprise given the pedigree of the wine. This small, family-owned winery is renowned for their pure expression of Nebbiolo. The fruit comes the Rabaja vineyard, one of the most successful sites in all of Barbaresco, aged 20+ months in 5-20 year-old Slavonian oak barrels. The resulting wine has the most charming bouquet of wild berries, raspberries, flowers, a touch of leather and a hint of spice. A similar flavor profile continues on the palate finishing with firm but ripe tannins. This is serious Barbaresco made the right way. I’m putting a few of these away for myself.

By: Kirk Walker | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/17/2019 | Send Email
You can get lost in the nose of this wine. It is not effusive but it is seductive Nebbiolo at its best. As you try to wrap your mind around the fruit, there are layers and layers of superfine spices, the word foliated comes to mind. I knew I was going to like because I spent so much time with the aromatics; the palate is fruit and spice and floral notes over and over. This is Rabaja, it is structured and very long. If you drink it in the near term think rich food if not please wait. This is a wine that will repay your patience.

By: Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/16/2019 | Send Email
Full disclosure up front, Rabaja’ is my favorite vineyard in Barbaresco, I’m pre-disposed to its character, that soaring fruit, the power but elegant balance and long finish. This wine is a classic, it’s old school made from 50 year old vines aged for 20 months in large, old Slavonian oak casks. The nose is brooding, yet is full of vibrant aromatics, the classic rose petal, orange peel but in a more savory setting. On the palate you see this wine is dynamic, powerful and full-bodied and has tannins, but the are fine grained not harsh. The finish is a misnomer because it doesn’t seem to finish just and endless replay of the earth, spice, fruit, herbs and leather, one for the cellar but a sensational wine.
Drink from 2022 to 2040

By: Ryan Moses | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/16/2019 | Send Email
For many, Rabaja is about as good as it gets for Barbaresco, and Guiseppe Cortese's is not only one of the standard bearers for the vineyard, but the wines remain superbly priced. The aromatics are intriguing, with nuances of orange peel, raspberry, rose petal, and red cherry. On the palate it somehow combines the ripeness of the vintage with a hint of rusticity and a good amount of mouthwatering, deep red fruit. There's a lot going on here, but it might need a few years to really strut all its stuff - it is pretty structured for a '15.

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- Tar and roses are the two descriptors most associated with this red grape grown, almost solely, in Italy's Piedmont, where it has achieved fame under the guises of the incredibly and age-worthy wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Characterized by chewy tannins, high acidity, high-tone cherry and raspberry fruit and truffle aromas and flavors, Nebbiolo has rightfully earned its reputation. Sadly the late-ripening varietal is quite delicate and is prone to disease as well as damage by hail that frequently pelts the region. Outside of Barolo and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo is grown in the DOCs of Gattinara, Spanna and Ghemme. The Nebbiolos of the Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC in the southeastern part of Piedmont are generally lighter and more immediately approachable versions of the grape, aged for less time than Barolo and Barbaresco, which also makes them less expensive. Langhe Nebbiolos are generally made from declassified fruit from the aforementioned regions of Barolo, Barbaresco and Nebbiolo d'Alba.


- Once named Enotria for its abundant vineyards, Italy (thanks to the ancient Greeks and Romans) has had an enormous impact on the wine world. From the shores of Italy, the Romans brought grapes and their winemaking techniques to North Africa, Spain and Portugal, Germany, France, the Danube Valley, the Middle East and even England. Modern Italy, which didn't actually exist as a country until the 1870s, once produced mainly simple, everyday wine. It wasn't until the 1970s that Italy began the change toward quality. The 1980s showed incredible efforts and a lot of experimentation. The 1990s marked the real jump in consistent quality, including excellence in many Region that had been indistinct for ages. The entire Italian peninsula is seeing a winemaking revolution and is now one of the most exciting wine Region in the world.


- Piedmont is in the Northwestern region of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. Piedmont is predominantly a plain where the water flows from the Swiss and French Alps to form the headwaters of the Po river. The major wine producing areas are in the southern portion of the region in the hills known as the "Langhe". Here the people speak a dialect that is 1/3 French and 2/3 Italian that portrays their historical roots. Their cuisine is one of the most creative and interesting in Italy. Nebbiolo is the King grape here, producing Barolo and Barbaresco. In addition, the Barbera and Dolcetto are the workhorse grapes that produce the largest quantity of wine. Piedmont is predominantly a red wine producing area. There are a few whites made in Piedmont, and the Moscato grape produces a large volume of sweet, semi-sweet and sparkling wines as well.
Specific Appellation:


- Barbaresco is a small village in Piedmont rising up out of the plain to sit in the Langhe hills. Here they produce a 100% Nebbiolo wine that takes its name from the village. Barbaresco is a serious wine of power and depth with an ability to age for multiple decades. Often thought of as the feminine version of Barolo, Barbaresco is a dramatically smaller region than its cousin. Barbaresco can only be produced within 1265 acres, and a maximum of 85,000 cases per year can be produced from the more than 500 growers. It is separated into four different communes of which three dominate, Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso. Angelo Gaja is perhaps one of the best known producers in the wine world, let alone Barbaresco, lives in the village. Recent technological and viticultural advances have made the wines more consistent, deeper in color and more flavorful. A wine of great perfume, the classic nose is "tar and roses", and complexity. Barbaresco is best served with roast meats, game birds or powerful cheese.