Barolo help!

Hi,

I am not too well versed with Barolo and would really like to explore the region a bit more. My palette is more old world and I drink mostly a lot of burg and bordeaux. However I have had a few barolos that I have liked recently (1961 borgono, 2001 falletto giacosa)
Wine at Hong Kong retail is still quite expensive so I tend to buy a lot of wine from acker internet auctions, heritage and occasionally spectrum. They often have a lot of different barolos but I am not too familiar. I am guessing what style I would prefer is a old school barolo with a some age on it. I dont mind a bit of volatile acidity as long as I get some really nice rose, tar, cherry kind of notes. I am not really into huge oak and vanilla. However I have not tried enough to know what I like yet.
Does anyone have some recommendations for barolo producers / cuvees that I might be able to find fairly easily that could be a good starter?. Price point below $160 per bottle

Appreciate all the help from any nebb heads!!!

Toby

A few names to look at:

Giacomo Conterno
Bartolo Mascarello
Giuseppe Mascarello
Bruno Giacosa
Rinaldi

Try some others too, like Macarini and Cavalotto which are very nice and, while not at the tip top of the producers, do very very nice wines. ’
Vintages…

A series of 1995s tried a few months ago were drinking nicely and have some time to go. Avoid 91-94 for the most part. 1996 was classic and they’re not ready but probably should be checked into, esp the midlevel producers and the more general cuvees. 1998 is a vintage I’d like to try soon too. I find that most Barolos younger than 15 years are still not showing classic aromas so I’d mostly avoid them now.

1989 and 90 are both great vintages but aren’t cheap. 85, 82 and 78 as well (of course, bottles start to vary here and not all producers were as good then as they are now and some perhaps were better.)

Monprivato - Do it!!!

Toby,

Rick has given you great suggestions for classic Barolo producers. I am not sure how prices are in your auction market so some of those wines, depending on vintage and cru, could exceed your upper cost limit. However, you should be able to find great examples of 1997s and 1998s that are drinking very nicely now if that is your interest. Good examples of 1989s and 1990s are likely beyond your price point for the producers listed. Also keep in mind that Rick’s list is one that satisfies the hard core traditionalist criteria but there are other producers that you should give considration to, at likely lower price points such as Borgogno, Vajra, Vietti, Bovio, Cogno, Cappellano, Massolino and F. Alessandria. But I suggest you widen your horizons to some producers who in the past were perceived as modernist producers that, lightning may strike, are really somewhere in between the nebbiolo nazis and gonzos such as Clerico, A. Conterno, Fantino, Pira, Azelia, Parusso, Grasso, and Sandrone. I know that is a lot to consider but actually not in the scheme of things.

I’ll second the Vietti, Borgnogno, Alessandria and Capellano from personal experience. Need to try a few of the others in Kelly’s list.

I had a brilliant 2000 Bruno Giacosa Rabajà for $130 retail. Wide open with a long slow ox.

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Kelly and Rick, are there any younger ones (as opposed to mature/drinking now) around the $40 -50 price point? I have very little experience with them and would like to explore them more and don’t mind cellaring them if I can find something around that price. Toby’s looking at a way higher price point and a lot of the wines you’ve suggested seem to be mature and ready to go, but I don’t know how inexpensively you can get newer vintages.

Marcarini and Ratti can be had at that price point and are worth searching out IMO.

Tom

Rachel – There is a surprising amount of good Barolo and Barbaresco in that price range still if you avoid top 10-15 names that command a big premium.

In the more traditionalist camp:
–Produttori di Barbaresco “normale” (non single vineyard): the 2006 is outstanding, but 99, 01, 04 and 05 are also excellent value. Can often be had for less than $30 and is the real stuff.
–Burlotto Acclivi Barolo
–Vajra Albe Barolo (I’m less keen on this than some)
–Oddero Barolo
–Vietti Castiglione Barolo (sees some oak)
–Marcarini La Serra and (better yet) Brunate Barolo (don’t be fooled by how light these can seem when young; the Brunate, particularly, is first class with age)
–Fratelli Alessandria Barolo (various single vineyards)
–Cavallotto Bricco Boschis Barolo
–Brovia Barolo
–Guido Porro Barolo
–Rizzi Barbaresco (and perhaps even their single vineyards)

In a more modern style:
–Paolo Scavino Barolo
–Azelia Barolo
–Moccagatta Bric Balin Barbaresco

I am on the Aldo Conterno train. Older vintages can be sought out for relatively decent prices. Old world style if that is what you are looking for.

Toby – My guess is that you’ll only see the “headline” producers in the Asian auctions – Gaja, Giacosa, the Conternos, etc. I’d be surprised if any of the names I listed in the post above (except maybe Vietti and Scavino) show up in the Acker catalog. But I’m sure everyone here would be happy to opine on the listings in the catalog if you want advice. (Who, us? Offer free advice?)

Rick summed up the vintages well. I would just add that a lot of 98s are drinking pretty well now, as are some 95s. I’m told a number of 2000s are showing well, though I never bought any, so I don’t know. It was a warmer, softer vintage.

I had exceedingly pleasing 88s from Aldo Conterno and Giacosa ~7-8 years ago, so you might want to be on the lookout for 88s, which didn’t get a lot of love. They should sell for a fraction of the 89s and 90s and would be substantially more drinkable.

Hi Toby,

I live in HKG too.

I buy from the UK and ship to Hong Kong to take out the local greed. It peeves me off no end. I was in Barbaresco recently and a proud maker invited me to attend the launch of their cru wines in HKG. They were under 35USD at his cellar door and he was quite shocked to find them over double that in HKG. Greed and sadly it won’t promote the region. Sandrone from Barolo shook their head too with what goes on with their wines.

Buying Barolo from the UK will save you about 30-40% off local retail!

I would suggest you optimize more for vintage than producer though it’s always great to optimize for both. You have a very good chance of buying a vintage that’s currently shut down and I’d hate for this to sour you on Barolo. 1989, 1990 and 1998 are all good vintages that are drinking now. I’d step down a notch in producer quality to get something from one of those vintages.

On the traditional producer side I’d suggest Produttori Riservas, Cappellano, Bartolo Mascarello. On the modern side I’d suggest Clerico, Einaudi, Azelia.

I’d personally suggest passing on stuff like Giacosa, Rinaldi, Gaja, G. Conterno or Voerizo. They are fantastic wines but for your price point I don’t think you’ll be able to afford one from a vintage that’s currently in its drinking prime.

Wow thanks for all the suggestions!!. I will let you know what I get into and report back!

Rachel,

Produttori del Barbaresco would be my go to in the sub $50 range. I also like Castello di Neive Santo Stefano, Cantina del Pino, Rizzi (the single vineyard), Guido Porro, Cavallotto’s Bricco Boschis, etc.

Toby, Kelly Walker also mentioned “Grasso”, that means Elio Grasso. Grasso’s Case Mate and Gavarini Chiniera are awesome. My only regret is that I wish that I had known about Elio much sooner.

And, you can get some of these wines (esp. Oddero) at around these prices even with age on the wines. See http://bassins.com/wine/italy/piemonte.php

89? Drinkable? I don’t know that you’d find many people who agree with you on that one!

Why not John? I had an 89 Aldo Conterno Cicala a few weeks ago that was lovely.

Some nice suggestions above already. I’d look at Macarini Brunate and Cavalotto too, as well as as Barbarescos from Produttori and di Gresy. You can find examples of a lot of this stuff with 10-15 years of age for not a bad price (i.e. Macarini from 1995 for ~$70 or so), so if you have some folks interested you could do a tasting and get some insight into how they age too. 04s are still more or less available and reasonably priced too.

His wines tend to have softer tannin. In general, it’s a great but high-tannin, backward vintage. The 90s are much more approachable, and the 88s, from my experience, much more still.

I only really began buying with the 96 vintage, but have some 90s. I wish I’d gone much longer on 89s… and that I live long enough to enjoy them. The 78s are just beginning to drink nicely.