Wine Talk

Snooth User: lingprof

help with brunello.... (bat-signal for GDP!)

Posted by lingprof, Jan 15, 2011.

A friend and I had a regions-of-the-world tasting, and we had a Brunello that we loved (Nardi 2003).  I paid about $37 for it, but it was on sale and is more like $60-$80.  My friend has been learning more about wine recently, and was really ecstatic about this bottle.  I told her that she has expensive taste and she's going to have to spend about $50 to get another Brunello.

Then I was looking on K&L (which is local for me) and it turns out they have at least a dozen Brunellos under $40 bucks (many of them on sale from higher prices).

So my question:  Are there any Brunellos under 40 that you've had and recommend?

Here is the list if anybody wants to have a look at the specifics before weighing in:

http://www.klwines.com/content.asp?...

Molte grazie in advance!!

 

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Replies

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 15, 2011.

There was a whole post about Sangio/Brunello that kind of ended up being about drinking Rhones, I think. But if you are local to K&L and on the East Bay side, also consider WineMine in Oakland.  David has many options in Brunello that are under $40.  A non-Italian Brunello that is intereting is the Two Mile Sangiovese (made with the same sub-varietal of Sangiovese grosso). (He doesn't have that, but you can find someplace that does, maybe even K&L.  Check the website of twomilewines.com)  Very Brunello-like, but a bit bigger and more assertive than some Brunellos.  The 2004 Brunellos were diluted with non-approved juice in some cases, but all of that is off the market now. 04 was a great year for the weather, I am told, and there seems to be a ton of it on the market.  Look beyond K&L and you'll find even more bargains. If you go to WineMine and tell David what you liked, he'll tell you which of his is a good one for you, and he'll be right. 

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 15, 2011.

Cheers to Brunello's!

I haven't heard of anything under $40, but i'm interested and will look into this.

I hear the 2006 vintage is a once in a generation type, can't wait until they start becoming available.

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Reply by lingprof, Jan 15, 2011.

@foxall:  I'm SoCal local, unfortunately, to the Hollywood K and L.  But when I'm next up there, I'll but WineMine on my list.

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Reply by lingprof, Jan 15, 2011.

"put", lol

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 15, 2011.

Oh, right, you can be local to K&L down there.  I forget. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 15, 2011.

JonDerry--there are deals on Brunello under $40.  Keep looking! I had one the other day, but it was not memorable, so I won't recommend it.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 17, 2011.

Lingprof, here's an old thread that has lots of good reccs, though not geared to SoCal retail availability:

Good Brunellos and other reds from Montalcino

You could always use its hints together with WineSearcher and see what pops up in the greater LA area...

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Reply by lingprof, Jan 17, 2011.

Thanks, dmcker.  I'm probably going about this the wrong way.  But rather than identifying the best Brunellos and searching for them, I kind of wanted to see what is available at some of the places I respect, at an attainable price, and see if anybody knows which ones might be worth a try.  (I looked at the other thread, but most of those were kind of hard to track or very expensive).

Everybody says to just go with Rosso di M if price is an issue, but I've disliked them in the past, and that's where I feel like there's no point experimenting.  I would only buy a specific one that everybody assures me is worth it and is close to a brunello.

In the end, maybe I'll just bite the bullet and buy a couple of the K and L ones, or the ones available at my local places like NapaCabs.  $30-40 is kind of a steep price for an experiment, without more info. I sound like a professor, huh?  Maybe I should think of it more like a lottery ticket, where you pay much more than usual, but the odds are also much better than with the actual lottery.  ;-)

Anyway, if you have any further suggestions, please toss 'em out.

OH, and a side question: people are starting to talk about old and new style Brunellos, kind of like with cali cabs and bordeaux and so forth, where the new ones get a fishy eye from connoisseurs like yourself.

If I loved the Nardi 2004 Brunello, do you happen to know if that's "new" style, or old?

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 17, 2011.

lingprof, I agree that $30-40 is steep for experimenting, but some would consider that a daily drinker here.  (I think JonDerry's band must have been very successful, based on the wines he drinks week after week.  Maybe you could get an invite from him, as I think he is in SoCal.) Unfortunately, there are wines that just start at relatively higher prices--Barolo is yet another notch upwards, for one--so it's hard to dip your toes in.  But here's an idea:  Look for a tasting event.  WineMine runs $10 tastings along with the usual $1 tasting sometimes so that David can pour something on the higher end.  Sorts out the serious buyers, a little, but also means less of a loss for him to get you to try it.  It's a good deal, because you get 3-5 tastes and you can then buy after you have tasted. 

You can also just ask the folks at K&L which ones are like the Nardi and are in your range.  They should have some idea, especially if you remember what you liked about it.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 17, 2011.

Utilizing the K&L staff in the manner Foxall suggests is a good idea. Ditto if some other shop in your general area (Wally's, wherever else) is a place you feel comfortable in.

Poggio di Sotto is quite good, but roughly twice your price range. Biondi Santi (the first brunello I ever had, way back in the '80s, and it still makes me happy) has risen to three times. Il Palazzone is in the 1.5-2x range. Salvioni in the 2-3x range. Salicutti in the 1.5x range. San Carlo is $40-50. Sesti in the same range. San Giuseppe in the 1.5x range. Ditto for Pian dell'Orino.

All of these are good brunellos I've had over the past couple of years. If you're not satisfied with what K&L and others locally offer in the $30-40 range, you should seriously consider those up to 1.5times your stated budget. All the price ranges I quote came from WineSearcher. With those labels, I wouldn't feel nervous about ordering online, as long as the merchant is solid.

Personally, I'm at the stage now where I'd rather have one $60 bottle that's good then two $30 that are only mediocre. Plenty of daily quaffables in the $10-$20 range (not brunellos, but I'm liking a number of Spanish garnachas, French GSM bends, Australian blends, etc., etc. in that range) to make up the differential.

Finally, have you explored the Chianti Classicos (esp. Riservas) sufficiently?

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 17, 2011.

As a final note, and although I haven't had them personally, amongst the labels that Eric Guido recommends in that other thread, the La Torre is in the $40-50 range, as is the Conti Costanti and the Tenuta La Fuga, while the Gianni Brunelli is in the 1.5x range. These should also be considered worthy old-skool candidates, knowing what I do of Eric's tastes.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 17, 2011.

Good point by dmcker: You're probably better off with a chianti classico riserva if you want to save the money.  You can buy something close to the upper end of them for what you are talking about.  Won't be exactly the same as the best brunello, but there are some good ones.  And if you guess wrong, you are out a lot less money.

dmcker made a second really good point, which is that there are so many good wines at 10-20 dollars that it's hard to get really excited about wine that costs 2-4 times as much and isn't rocking your world.  But it's also hard to justify spending a ton of money more for an improvement of, say, 2x. Not that you can quantify these things exactly.  And with my local discounter selling $65-80 Napa Cabs for $15 and sometimes less--no advertising allowed--sometimes it's not necessary.

Other possible places to check: Get on the list for garagistewines.com, if you like Jon Rimmerman's taste, and wait for a good offer from them.  (But then you have to wait some more because they only ship 2x a year. And their system is frustrating in other ways, too--they won't ship less than a case unless you specifically request it. But I got Terralsole Brunello for $33, so I'll put up with it.) Sign up for WTSO's daily emails--they've had some deals on Brunello, and you can jump if you see something you like.  Also keep your eye on the folks who sell collectors' cellars, because sometimes they have someone who collected exactly what you like.  bpwine.com is such a merchant (and the shipping is cheap!) WineryInsider/invino is mostly California stuff, but not exclusively.  Still, I always like to ask the local guy, because I can talk with him (or her--my #1 salesperson at K&L SF is a woman who lives down the street from me) and he or she can ask questions about what I liked about what I drank.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 17, 2011.

@ Fox - Ha!  My band did okay, but luckily I have a day job that pays my bills and allows me a couple hundred worth of wine purchases a month.  Of course, my wife helps to keep me in check but overall I just try to drink less often, and higher quality when I do. 

That said, I still have a long ways to go in figuring out what brands are worth going back to - it's a process for me figuring out what I enjoy and what I don't. It's rare that a wine under $20 is good enough to savor...it does happen but not often enough.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 17, 2011.

Waterstone Cab (Napa) on offer at bpwine right now is under $20 and actually 'savor'able.   the $10+ stuff I'm talking about, however, is generally wellmade and balanced and great with food on a daily basis, but not something I'm going to spend hours focusing on. That's for the $50+ stuff, for me, anyway, sometimes less but not always reliably so. Not that I'm turning into the historical view of the French bourgeoisie with the daily plonk and the special bottle for Sunday dinner, but I do find a dichotomy developing in my consumption habits.

Not mentioned by Foxall but also quite good as a source for well-provenanced private-cellar offerings is Benchmark Wines, also up in Napa. You'll need to cull their offerings since there's a lot of pricier stuff, too, but both they and BP have some surprising offerings on a fairly regular basis. Rarewineco in Sonoma is also good, but with a narrower range of offerings, and more focus on the upper end.

BPwine

Benchmark

Rarewineco

Garagiste

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 17, 2011.

D

I think your position is not uncommon with many people's consumption habits in general.

There is plenty of good easy to drink sub $20 Wine in the world which satisfy our tastes for the casual occasion. 

I am reminded as a comparison today as I sit home nursing a head cold and blocked sinuses and having just prepared myself a cheese and corn beef sandwich.  The commercial matured cheese slice was quite enjoyable and convenient in an uncomplicated sandwich but clearly not what would go onto a cheese platter when entertaining.

Wine is the same, I definitely like to make the special occasions - special and splash out some cash for something worth seriously thinking about whilst enjoying it.

At the end of the day we are al constrained by budgets [unless we invented microsoft, release rap music, play pro sport etc] and the it is just a case of what fits the budget for both the top end and the everyday wines.

The fascinating beauty and charm of wine is that you can find great examples of the product at affordable price and by paying outrageous sums you can still be very dissappointed.

My Bulgarian mate calls this wine socialism!!!!

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 18, 2011.

Dm - I like what you mention about the ability to find $10-20 wines that are good for every day drinking and going good with food, while $50+ are usually reserved for savory wines or wines that just aren't worth the money.  Exactly what i've found over my years of at least somewhat informed purchasing. 

There is another level there in the $25-$45 range, but it's usually not as distinct a class.  Would usually rather pay less for something comparable, or pay a little more for something special.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 18, 2011.

Thanks to a role in the dotcom bubble and earlier related work, as well as the nature of the wine markets at the time, in the '80s and '90s I was in a position to buy most any wine I wanted every day. This past decade until fairly recently definitely any bottle (though that was before the Chinese started going hogwild). Now, however, I've got specific goals for every penny not otherwise nailed down, and I've placed myself on a strict budget. Thus the dichotomy I mentioned.

It's interesting to see how much more I can focus on and appreciated the $8-$28 bottles with dinner or an occasional lunch these days, when in the past purchases always tended to start above that range. Part of my ability to focus on wines without cachet that are still good, and a wider range of varietals, styles and regions, is the time I spent in winegrowing regions in Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Greece), living for somewhat extended periods and drinking with the locals. I was spoiled before, I suppose (or just pointed in narrowly focused market-hyped directions) whereas now I'm more appreciative of the whole range of what Bacchus has to offer....

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Reply by lingprof, Jan 19, 2011.

These are great suggestions, you guys.

@JonDerry: get thee behind me satan, lol!  I've only recently made it to the "I'd rather have a nice $40 bottle than two $20 ones" stage....  I'm not ready to go to the next level yet, although I'm sure I'll get there.  ;-)

Okay, I have a few alternative plans now.  1) I just get a Fulbright and go live with Dmcker for a year and get him to let me buy some of his bottles at a discount.  It's not totally clear what's in it for him, yet, but I can figure something out.  An obscure translation?  Tutoring in Japanese phonetics?

2) Barring that, and sending the topic in a whole new direction, could you all recommend some nice Chianti Classicos?  I think of Chianti as "what I used to drink when I didn't know anything", which has probably kept me from exploring as I should.

Again molte grazie in advance!

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 19, 2011.

Now that sounds interesting, Lingprof. Feel free to PM me about what you figure... ;-)

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 20, 2011.

D - I also think by sharing experiences here on Snooth it helps widen eyes to the vinuous delights of the globe.

 

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