Every day I log onto xe.com and gnash my teeth, bite my nails and cry stained Barolo tears over the state of the falling pound. It's happening though. The credit crunch is real, affecting my wine drinking habits, so I presume affecting yours too. While the young Barolo I already own becomes more and more tempting it is high time to start looking around at which other Piedmont producers can offer us some real bargains both within Barolo and into Dolcetto, Barbera, Roero, Ghemme and Gattinara. Today I am going to run through some QPR bargains from all six of these DOC/DOCG's. Just because famous named Barolo is running £40-£50 a bottle, more if you are looking for Barolo with 10 years already stacked, doesn't mean you can't enjoy other fabulous Nebbiolo or other grapes from the region. So let's get into "credit crunch" mode and talk about the best value Piedmont wines on the market today.
Barolo is one of those wines that has a real geek following. Barolo nuts, of which there are plenty, spend hours discussing the qualities of this producer or that producer, new school vs old school production, specific vinification techniques, the advantages of this vintage over that vintage. Barolo wine aficionados are right up there with their Bordeaux and Burgundy counterparts and if you're reading this you may well be one of them and don't need me to tell you about the value of Varja, the benefit to Baudana or the merit of Molino. These are famously fair priced Barolo products and in some vintages, quite excellent. For 2009 though, which producers are still not getting their plaudits and thus, cheapy!?
Bovio - two excellent Barolo wines, especially from the great 2004 vintage, look out for "Gattera" and "Arborina". A producer starting to come to the fore, these are £20 Barolo products with 90-91 point RP scores. I've rattled on about Bovio before, I'm not sure about the ageing capabilities as I've only tasted the most recent vintages but these are shockingly good Barolo to drink young. Bargain city.
Poderi Colla - another Barolo producer I like to personally champion, Poderi Colla produce value across the spectrum of their wine production. The fairly well known "Bussia Dardi le Rose" has come on leaps and bounds in the first half of this century soaring up to 93 points with RP for the 2004 vintage. Expect to pay £30-35 for this bottling.
Famiglia Anselma - Producing a standard bottling Barolo and the very good "Adasi", these producers are fairly new to Barolo comparatively starting out in 1993. Can be a bit hit and miss but when Anselma do hit, they hit big. Prices are a bit wild but I've seen the Adasi selling for around £30 with some Italian websites. Giacomo Brezza - With a fair old plot in the Piedmont and producing 4 sterling Barolos, the Sarmassa and Canubi being the best of the bunch it is surprising Brezza dont get their props. A fine producer of Langhe Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo too this producer represents the best of the area without the fanfare. Despite Gambero Rosso awards and a long history in the area Brezza just don't come over the radar as they should. Good news for you and I then as you can stack up on quality Cannubi 2001, the Tre Bicchiere year for under £40 a bottle.
Eraldo Viberti - With several Viberti's in the Piedmont you need to make sure you pick out the wines of Eraldo! Though a small producer, Viberti is quickly becoming a consistant quality producer of Barolo. With under 23,000 bottles produced at Viberi each year getting hold of his excellent Barolo may prove tricky. A deserved 90 point wine in good vintages look to pay around £30 per bottle.
Bovio, for my money, is the QPR producer of Barolo at this price point. Of course there is one simple way to knock a few £ of your Nebbiolo habit, same producer - drink Barbaresco!
Rest of the Piedmont
Though some Barbera can run into serious money, look at Braida and the insane price of the Pozzo dell'Annunziata from Roberto Voerzio, with the other wines of the Piedmont you can drink quality for £15 and under. Some of the very best Dolcetto, 90+ Dolcetto retails under £10 so here is a list of the very best from the Piedmont in the £15 and under range.
Dolcetto d'Alba and Dolcetto di Dogliani have come on leaps and bounds since the jug wine days of only a decade or so previously. Quality Dolcetto is among the best value wine in the world, let alone the Piedmont. At its best a wonderfully concentrated and fruity wine. There are only a few dedicated Dolcetto producers with most of the production coming from already big Piedmont names. Look out for the producers below, those marked in red being the best producers of Dolcetto, all selling for under £15 a bottle;
Ca' Viola, M&E Abbona, Quinto Chionetti, Pecchinino, San Fereolo
Claudio Alario, Bricco Maolica, Anna Maria Abbona, Einaudi, Luigi Einaudi, San Romano, Bruno Giacosa, Vajra, Elio Altare, Francesco Boschis and Brovia.
Barbera really is a lot of fun. It's one of those wines whose general quality can not be assured in any way. I've spent a lot of time drinking Cotes du Rhone wines at the moment and am always struck by a kind of standardised quality in them and when you go back to Barbera you really notice that this wine can be tremendous or terrible even within similar price points. With Barbera you really do have to know what you're looking for. The price of Barbera can similarly run the gamut but for around £15 your best bets would be La Spinetta, Giacomo Conterno (maybe closer £20), La Morindina, Bava, Hastae, Iuli, Cascina Ferro, Claudio Alario, Enzo Boglietti, La Tenaglia and Martinetti. Look for '05, '01 and '00 vintages.
This is one of the Piedmont productions that can offer serious Nebbiolo value with even the top producers coming in around the £15 mark. Look out for Malvira, Angelo Negro & Figli, Matteo Correggia, Gallino, Cascina Chicco and Cascina Val del Prete.
A DOCG wine made mostly from the Nebbiolo grape there are few great producers of the wine with the most consistent and readily available globally being Cantalupo.
I've featured Gattinara on the blog a couple of times one of the most famous producers being Travaglini for their peculiar shaped bottle. However, the best producer without question is Antoniolo but both these producers retail closer to the £20 mark.
If you want bargain Nebbiolo the clear choice would be Roero wines, if you're experimenting in the wines of the Piedmont there is wonderful value in even the top producers of both Dolcetto and Barbera. Don't forget the white Gavi wines from the region or even the rapidly improving Langhe Chards. So there you have it, even in Italys most prestigious wine areas there are still 90+ point wines for £15 and under and with Bovio you can even have top class Barolo for a £20 note. Happy bargain hunting!
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