Monday, March 14, 2011

Values in Barolo & Barbaresco? Absolutely.

Is there value in Barolo and Barbaresco? It’s a very good question and one that I’ve been asked often. My immediate answer is… It depends on your definition of value. Why? Because Barolo has become the victim of its own marketing. The wine that’s been touted “The wine of kings, the king of wine” is something that many people seek out when they know they love Italian wine and would like to know what the “king of wines” tastes like. The problem is that the average consumer considers anything over $25 to have left the realm of value, and the average Barolo costs $45 and up into $100+.

Baroli from $25 - $40 a bottle.
Does this mean that you can’t find good bottles under that price range? Absolutely not. However, if you are looking for value in Barolo and Barbaresco, then it’s imperative that you make educated decisions because there are many bottles of cheap ($25-$35) Barolo littering the shelves of your average Wine and Liquor store that are not worth your time. However, all the notes below are from bottles costing between $25 and $45, and yes, they are very good, and yes, they are a value.

I can also assure you that it is truly worth seeking out a good bottle of affordable Barolo or Barbaresco. I’m a perfect example, as I’m truly infatuated with all wine made from Nebbiolo (the grape that makes Barolo and Barbaresco), and I would have never known how much I love these wines if I didn’t go through the process of exploration and sometimes paying a little more than average for a bottle of wine. The worst part is that I didn’t have anyone to guide me through this exploration.

So read these notes and pick a bottle to search for. Open it one night and let it breath in the bottle for a couple of hours before you pour the first glass. Enjoy it over dinner or over the course of an evening. Your first glass may be wonderful and your last glass may be amazing; that’s the magic of Nebbiolo.

On to the notes:

2005 Giovanni Viberti Barolo Buon Padre - The nose showed classic notes of cherry, roses, forest floor and tar, with a whiff of truffle. On the palate, this was savory with cherry and leather on a light, elegant frame. The finish was dry and youthful with a hint of old wood. This affordable Barolo is easily worth the tariff, and the nose alone is a gorgeous, feminine expression of Nebbiolo. (90+ points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

2006 Vietti Barolo Castiglione - The nose showed strawberry, anise, coconut and vanilla with a hint of lead pencil. On the palate, I found dusty cranberry and a hint of wood. The palate was rich with tones of darker fruit as it worked its way across the tongue. The finish showed a little rough tannin with dry red fruits. This wine is young, but not painfully so, and with a little air, it showed the darker and richer tones of Nebbiolo. (91 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

2006 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe - The nose showed dusty black cherry, allspice, rock dust and hints on menthol. On the palate, I found wild red berries, earth, green olive and crushed flower petals with teaming acidity and a slight sour profile. The finish showed cedar and leather, but unlike most Barolo of its age, no overwhelming tannin was present. This may not be a Barolo for the ages, but it is very enjoyable now. (90 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

2007 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco Serra - Upon first pour, the nose showed roasted chestnut, which blew off quickly to reveal a gorgeous bouquet of cherry, roses, animal musk and blood orange. On the palate, I found red berries and cedar that turned spicy with time in the glass. This wine was full-bodied and incredibly silky but turned very tannic on the young medium-long finish. I'll look forward to checking in on this Barbaresco in eight to ten years’ time. (93 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

2006 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco - The 2006 Produttori del Barbaresco Normale was fantastic for a young Nebbiolo. It was a textbook example with elegant red fruits, roses and tobacco on the nose. There was black cherry on the palate, as this showed to be very young, yet highly enjoyable, with a fresh balance of acidity and a big tannic shutdown on the finish. I will buy this wine by the case. (92 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

Okay, okay, okay, so this is not Barolo or Barbaresco, but it is made from Nebbiolo in Piedmont, and it is a great bottle of wine. I didn’t even intend to include it here but was so thoroughly impressed by it that I felt it was my duty to share it with my readers... Also, I notice Wine-Searcher doesn't list it, but this next bottle can also be found at Grapes: The Wine Company

2006 Cantina dei Produttori Carema Nebbiolo di Carema Riserva - On the nose, this wine showed strawberry, musk and earth with hints of cinnamon and ginger in a beautiful feminine expression of Nebbiolo. On the palate, I found focused red berry fruit with savory mushroom and hints of salinity. The palate started tight and focused but turned full and expansive with air. The finish was long with berry fruit and wonderfully fresh. This wine is a great early-drinking Carema. (91 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

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