Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bargain Barolo?

Barolo is one of those magical wine names that I don't often find in my glass. It is considered by many to be the finest wine made in Italy - and premium prices follow it accordingly. It's easy enough to find the big red wine, from the region of Piedmont in northwest Italy, in our market. It's just that those bottles tend to start at $50 and there are only a couple that come in at that price in our government stores.

Imagine my surprise when I ran across a bottle for $27.

1055. 2006 San Silvestro - Patres (DOCG Barolo - Piedmont - Italy)

Made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, the appellation - or district - that is designated for the production of Barolo is quite small. Historically centred around five towns, it has expanded somewhat (not without controversy) but total production is still limited - which only helps keep the prices at a premium level. Normally noted for its high tannins and acidity, the last thirty years has seen many changes to the production methods and styles - from vineyard yields to the length of maceration to the oak and ageing process.

Like many Old world wine regions, Barolo faced a lot of pressure in the 70's and 80's to modernize its wine to adapt to changing global tastes and to deliver more discernible fruit on the palate - and to do so in a wine that would be more approachable, without having to wait years for the tannins to subside. Stories abound of the "Barolo Wars," recounting "traditionalist" vs "modernist" takes on production - differing standpoints that can still be argued today. I'm no expert on Barolo and I won't pretend to tell those tales of modernization, but they do make for some interesting wine geek reading.

With all that being said, I can't say that the San Silvestro did a whole lot for me. There's little doubt that I have a tendency to reach for wines with a bigger fruit profile, but I just didn't find an integration of the tannins and acid in this wine. I know this won't be the last Barolo (or Barbaresco) to fill my glass but this isn't the first time that I haven't been excited by a Nebbiolo wine. I'm starting to wonder if Nebbiolo's just destined not to be a favourite varietal of mine.

Than again, maybe this bottle was found at a bargain price because it isn't a premium example of the region and wine. Even if $27 is be a good price for Barolo, I wouldn't call it an every day price tag. I'm pretty sure that I can find many a bottle that better suits my palate at that price point. Too bad. I was rather hoping for a little Barolo magic to happen.

1 comment:

  1. My was so excited by your title, hoping desperately that you DID find a fabulous Barolo at a reasonable price. Alas - not this time! It's one of my favorites and I'm also looking for a bottle that won't break the bank.