Readers know I'm a sucker for a great deal, or at least the idea of a great deal. But really, what would you say if I told you I'd found a Barolo under $20? You'd dismiss me with a "stop buying your wine at Trader Joe's." Back away from some industrial shell of such a noble DOCG.
And you'd likely be right. Trader Joe's is full of low budget and low value Amarone and Barbaresco, appellations that typically command high prices and promise incredible wine experiences. So how is this possible? Barolo, the king of nebbiolo from Italy's Piedmont region, for less that $20? That's a normal price for regional nebbiolo these days. How could you possibly get Barolo for such a price, much less something that's not only better than those nebbioli but worthy of the Barolo name much less any of your money?
Enter the 2006 Reverdito Barolo, in the local Portland market from Zancanella Importing for around $19. Reverdito is a smaller producer of Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo from the town of La Morra. Usually their wines offer good value, with notable prices on their Codane and Moncucco Barolo in the $28 to $35 range, low for Barolo though perhaps because Zancanella imports the wines directly.
Then I was in Vinopolis recently and saw the latest Barolo for just $18.99. I had to ask shop owner Dan about the wine. He said he believed Reverdito blended all their Barolo for this vintage together in one bottling, and priced it to move. If it were as good as basic regional nebbiolo I would be happy. But tonight with homemade pizza this wine is absolutely delicious. It's rustic but powerful, not lacking stuffing for nebbiolo's classic tannin and acidity. It's dark ruby colored but translucent, still traditional with lovely dried flower, spicy cherry and tar aroma. Perhaps there's some barrique aging here, but I find nothing overtly modern here. You won't get the finesse and elegance of top producers. You will get true Barolo character and depth for a lower price than I've seen in many, many years for real Barolo.
The back label tells of the Reverdito vineyard holdings. Two acres of Dolcetto d'Alba, two of Barbera d'Alba, five of Lange Nebbiolo and eighteen acres of Barolo, all in the villages of La Morra and Serralunga d'Alba. This wouldn't matter if the wine was no good, but this is good wine, all from a very small area that I believe produces Italy's most exceptional wine. Wine like this won't make you forget the wines of Giacosa or Mascarello. However, this seems like an exceptional opportunity for authentic and delicious Barolo for the price of peanuts. For the record, Liner and Elsen also has this on the shelf and I imagine others in the area have it too. Anyone can order it from Zancanella, assuming it's still available. Barolo at this price won't last long.