We got started last time with a short list of cellarable wine values for the cellar. I only touched on Portugal and Spain, but judging from the response it looks like we’re going to have to dig a bit deeper to satisfy every palate out there. This week we return to the regions that are nearest and dearest to my heart: The great wine-producing valleys of northern Italy. I love Barolo and Barbaresco, but almost all of them are just getting too expensive, so we'll be focusing on the alternatives out there for the savvy shopper.
With all the great wines coming from other regions, it’s not like we need Barolo or Barbaresco in the cellar. Heck, who am I fooling -- I need some Nebbiolo in the cellar, and you know what, you can still satisfy your craving for great Nebbiolo and not break the bank, but don’t ignore the rest of the top of the boot as a source of fantastic values.
Want more wine?Don't miss the first installment of Starting a Cellar on a Budget, or our round-up of 12 Great Values in Cabernet. While you're there, check out tips for Fixing 7 Common Wine Emergencies and Pairing Red Wine with Fish.
To me there is no finer wine than a perfectly-aged Barolo. Barbaresco, sort of Barolo’s twin sister, also fits the bill. The only problem here is that the prices for almost all of these wines have gone crazy over the past few years putting them out of reach for most of the world’s wine lovers. Now, that’s to be expected since the production figures for most producers are miniscule, typically in the 1000s of bottle for most Barolos and Barbaresco (compare that with Bordeaux, where production numbers can be measured in the tens of thousands of CASES). Yet there are still a handful of producers who make world class wines and somehow charge pretty modestly for them. Guido Porro is tops on my list in Barolo. His wines are awesome, and while $40 is not cheap, it’s a really fair price for this quality. Shop around and you might even be able to find the wines for less!
Two to Try
I’ve already said that Sangiovese and Chianti are some of my favorite, go-to wines. They also can age spectacularly well and, luckily enough, I happen to really like some of the less expensive wines produced in a traditional style from Chianti, as well as Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. I’d love to include some Brunello here, but the truth is I can’t think of one that is still cheap enough. These are wines that sometimes don’t wow you in their youth, especially if you’re looking for power, but become beguiling with a bit of age on them. My all-time favorite Chianti has to be the Chianti Classico Riserva from Monsanto. Monsanto is one of the most consistent producers whose wines age gracefully and are downright cheap!
Two to TrySteinraffler Lagrein from J. Hoftatter is a remarkable wine that ages into a thing of beauty, and never fails to impress anybody who tries it! Seriously, it's got something for everybody. It’s not the cheapest wine on the block but at about $40 a bottle or less, it’s worth every penny.
Want more collecting advice? Don't miss part one of Starting a Cellar on a Budget.
Two Great Ways to Start Your CellarGuido Porro Barolo
Guido Porro is tops on my list in Barolo. His wines are awesome, and are sold at a really fair price for this quality.
Chianti Classico Riserva from Monsanto
My all-time favorite Chianti, from one of the most consistent producers whose wines age gracefully and are downright cheap!