Let’s take a look at some pricing, historical and current and see where prices have gone, and where they might go, helping to identify some smart buys from the region. Let’s begin with those two blue chips. I’ve listed the price for each wine on release, the price those wines are currently trading for and the price of the latest release.

1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d'Alba $90 Now $190 The 2008 is $210
1996 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino $185 Now $550 The 2005 is $440

As you can see, both of these wines have experienced roughly a doubling of price over the span of a decade, and while a good portion of the price increases can be attributed to the relative strengths of the Euro and the Dollar, the bottom line is that I’m no longer comfortable buying these wines. They have priced themselves out of my world. It’s also tough to justify paying more or about the same for a current release wine as one might pay for something with a decade of age on it, adding further weight to my decision to just say no to these wines, as painful as that has been.

One point worth noting: if all of these price increases were due to currency rate fluctuations, we might expect to see more consistency across the board for wines from Piedmont. Clearly that is not the case, and some producers are simply enjoying an explosion of demand. Here are some additional examples to help illustrate the point.

1999 Vietti Barolo Brunate $65 now $100. The  2008 is $125
1999 Vietti Barolo Rocche $70 now $135. The  2008 is $130
1999 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo $75 now $120 The 2008 is $100
1999 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste $75 Now $180 The 2008 is $120
1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra $75 now $90 The 2008 is $100
1999 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc $75 now $90  The 2008 is $100
1999 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia $80 now $200 The 2008 is $140
1999 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis $100 Now $ 165 The 2008 is $150
1999 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato $60 now $125 2008 $115

With an average increase in price somewhere around 30 percent, basically the rate of inflation, there is clearly something else at play with the jump in prices the Monfortino and the Giacosa have experienced, and that is most simply explained by demand. Interestingly Conterno’s Cascina Francia has only jumped about 50 percent over the past decade, so that wine remains a bargain, even if I no longer feel comfortable buying it. In fact, as you can see, all of these wines are now at, or across my threshold of pain, leading to some soul-searching and painful decisions.