Another funny thing has happened here. For whatever reason my threshold of pain hasn’t changed in a decade. Back around 2002 I was comfortable paying about $100 for a bottle of wine, let's leave aside the discussion as to what form of mental illness this is symptomatic of for now. Today that threshold has remained much the same. It’s true that I made exceptions back in the day, just as I do today, but back in the day the exceptions were for things like Monfortino and Giacosa red label Barolo, two of the wines I can no longer afford, not due to some psychological barrier, but rather due to the rise in their prices. The rise that, in fact, kicked off this written exercise of mine.
We might as well begin with Barolo, there’s a bit of analysis that’s going to happen here so bear with me. Barolo had been, until about the 1997 or 2000 vintage, one of the greatest bargains in the world of wine. Exceptional wines traded at the level of lowly-classed Bordeaux, but that has changed. Today the greatest producers have been fully discovered, and a critic eager to attract a following has been lavishing praises on these wines as if they were the second coming of Christ, or at least Burgundy.
The explosion of pricing for top Burgundies, which we will get to, has pushed many collectors out of their comfort zones and into regions such as Barolo in order for them to satisfy their collecting desires. Truth be told there is some similarity between Barolo and Burgundy; they are both vineyard driven regions, relying on a single grape for their greatest wines, production numbers are small, and there are clearly delineated stylistic camps that people can choose wines from. But the wines are not really that similar, so the move of Burgundy aficionados to Barolo has been a bit of a head scratcher for me, but that's not stopping it.
Interest in Barolo has been simmering for some time now, and if not for the unprecedented string of vintage the region has enjoyed since 1995, and the accompanying production, it would have exploded long ago. This delayed fuse of sorts has let many people learn a lot about the region and the producers, and I think a critical mass has finally focused in on the greatest wines. This will be seen as an inflection point for the region, as names like Mascarello and Rinaldi turn into the Dujacs and the Rousseau of the region, with the wines of Conterno and Giacosa already being the Leroy and DRC.