Wine Talk

Snooth User: toddo14

Help with selecting a nice red from Northern Italy?

Posted by toddo14, Nov 11, 2015.

Hi, my wife and I received a nice bottle of wine as a wedding present that we've now been cellaring for over 5 years (planning to enjoy on our anniversary in the future when its time, online people suggest to 'hold' still). We've never cellared wine before, but it's been fun to have this special bottle that we're waiting to enjoy together over multiple years.

I'd like to do the same for a friend as a wedding gift. I previously asked them what wine they like most and they mentioned Northern Italian reds. So I'd like to get them a nice bottle that will improve over the next 5 years or so if they wait to enjoy it.

Any suggestions? Was thinking something around $100-150 but I know very little about Italian wine, nor what would age well. Thanks in advance, hopefully its fun to explore & suggest ideas :)

Replies

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Reply by dvogler, Nov 11, 2015.

Toddo,

When I think Northern Italy, I think Veneto and that means Amarone.  However, Piedmont is also North and Barolo is another good one for cellaring.  Where are you in the US?  Are there some good wine shops near you?  If so, go see what their stock of Amarone and/or Barolo is and what years they are.  Some vintages are better than others.  2004 for example was fantastic for both, but good luck finding any.  For Amarone, 2006, 2008 are good too.  Amarone should be ten years old before it's opened, but of course you could open a younger one and decant it and it'll be fabulous.  The thing is, they get better!

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Reply by GregT, Nov 11, 2015.

Yeah, and Amarone and Barbaresco/Barolo are about as different as you can get, so make sure you know what they meant!

Amarone is made from dried grapes and it's usually very high in alcohol. Barolo is made from regular grapes, but they're very different from the Amarone grapes and the wine is too. Both of those age well, as DV said. And then you can get things like Teroldego, Lagrein, Barbera, all of which also age nicely and tend to be a lot cheaper. Most importantly, how long do they intend to keep the wine and where? On top of the fridge is no good for aging. Inside the fridge is way better and if they have a cellar, better yet.

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Reply by dvogler, Nov 11, 2015.

Greg,

Toddo threw out a value and I'm running with it!  :)

Speaking of that, if you have a great wine store nearby, you could probably get an older one for that money.

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 11, 2015.

And considering the relative newness of these winedrinkers to Italian red we could probably consider central Italy (a la Toscana) also 'northern'. So we can talk about Brunellos and Super Tuscans.

DV, Amarone is a very particular taste. I love the stuff but it's not something I'd start on with relative newcomers, without being sure of their taste in other areas.

Barbarescos are a little cheaper and ready a little younger than Barolos. So that's probably what I'd go with.

Or can it be two bottles, rather than just one, within the same budgetary framework?

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Reply by dvogler, Nov 12, 2015.

Hey, Burgundy isn't really that far away! 

The guy was fairly specific about Northern Italian.  I love Tuscany and it's offerings as much as Piedmont and Veneto.

The poster admitted not knowing much about Italian wine and perhaps his friend wouldn't know a Brunello from a Barolo.  I gave two good examples of Northern Italian wine that can be put away for years.  They might hate Amarone! 

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Reply by toddo14, Nov 12, 2015.

Dvogler, I'm in Los Angeles, so sure that I can find a good wine store to stop by. The thoughts and suggestions already have been fantastic.

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Reply by JonDerry, Nov 12, 2015.

Giacomo Fenocchio makes good to great Barolo (N Italian) for about half that price.

The 2011 Villero has received excellent reviews, you could buy them two bottles and still be toward the lower end of your budget, highly recommend.

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Reply by dvogler, Nov 12, 2015.

DM and JD both present a good option by getting multiple bottles.  That way in five to ten years you can open one and if it needs time, hey, you have another.  If it's awesome?  Even better....you have another!

As Greg says, cellar it appropriately.  Not in the kitchen cupboard!  :)

 

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 13, 2015.

Then, if you want to break the budget, there's always the 1996 Quinterelli Valpolicella in this offer from a famous merchant up in Berkeley!  ;-)  Quintarelli's 2005 Rosso del Bepi offering from the same shop needs more cellaring, but is within the budgetary parameters. I still think Valpolicella and Amarone offers perhaps too strong a like/dislike dichotomy for reactions by newcomers, though. 

As mentioned earlier, my best recco is two (or even three) bottles of good nebbiolo from Barbaresco (or Barolo, especially with Chambers Street's offerings) within your budget. Chambers Street in New York is a much better option than Total Wine for well selected and even aged bottles of wine from the Piedmont, amongst other areas. They'll ship to LA, no problem.

You should also try some good sangiovese (Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Riserva, etc.) and blends with sangiovese and merlot or cabernet sauvignon ('Super Tuscans') from the northern part of central Italy (Tuscany) when you have a chance, Toddo.

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Reply by William Djubin, Nov 15, 2015.

A Nice Snooth Link HERE. Thanks GDP

A real Northern Italian red wine, Alto Adige Lagrein.

http://www.snooth.com/list/top-alto-adige-lagrein/6221/

 

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Reply by Mike Madaio, Nov 16, 2015.

I'd agree with the person who suggested that Amarone is to a certain taste. Unless it was specifically asked for, I would not go there. (Personally it's one of my least favorite Italian wines, and I love most of them.)

When I read "Northern Italian" and that price range, I immediately assumed Barolo. You really can't go wrong.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 16, 2015.

Of course you can go wrong, MM!  You can buy overpriced modernist Barolo that tastes like... well, only a little like Nebbiolo.  There's my prejudice. 

He's in LA.  Wally's has a pretty nice selection of Barolo, if I recall. Woodland HIlls Wine Company, too.  He could get something with a little age at one of those.  I also like the idea of two bottles, which you could probably do in that price range.  But I'd try either two different crus (like the Bussia and Villero from Giacomo Fennocchio, for example), or maybe a normale from Vietti (that's the Castiglione at about $50) and one of Vietti's Cru bottlings.  Or get an older Oddero and a 2010. (Actually, if you can find the Oddero "Gallina" Barbaresco, it's a steal.)

Oh, can it.  Get them a bottle of Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato, it's just within your price range and anyone in the world can appreciate what a fantastic bottle it is.  It's everything Burgundy is supposed to be--weightless but powerful, rich and long but elegant and lithe. But it's Barolo, so, while expensive, it's not stupid expensive.  I don't think there are many bottles of wine worth $125-150, but it is, and it shines in the vast majority of vintages.  In an off year, Mauro will declass fruit from the Ca d'Morrissio part of the vineyard and it's sometimes even better. 

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Reply by Mike Madaio, Nov 17, 2015.

I tend to agree with the two bottles of $50 wine will outperform one $100 bottle any day wisdom, but your rec seems like a good one...

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Reply by GregT, Nov 17, 2015.

And you can always get some Barbera, which can age well and which will be a lot less money than Barolo or Barbaresco. Well, at least usually it will be. And Nebbiolo is made in other areas as well, so depending on what you're looking for, you can buy a few bottles of something from Valtellina or Gattinara, both of which can produce very nice Nebbiolo

But you know, D had a point about northern Italian possibly including Tuscany. Just as Amarone may be a taste that doesn't appeal to everyone, same with Nebbiolo as it comes in Barbaresco or Barolo. Many people can find those wines overly acidic and unpleasant. Much as I like them, I don't want them every night. Don't want Zin every night either.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 18, 2015.

If you want to do Nebbiolo at a price, Ghemme (Cantalupo is my go to) is safe and there's Valtellina and Gattinara, of course, and some stuff from outside the DOCGs.  But we were talking about special bottles.  I think it would be hard to find a palate that didn't approve of Monprivato--sure, lots of tannins and acids, but somehow Mauro Mascarello makes it all come out great.  (Actually, he doesn't use any press wine, so the tannins aren't as heavy and virtually never green.)  I guess if you like really spoofy wine, then it wouldn't be your thing, but we're not talking about that, are we? 

Good question about what is "Northern" Italy.  In a way, it could be anything somewhat above Rome.  Tuscany is certainly not like Campania, Puglia, Calabria, Basilicata.  I'm pretty sure the Northern secessionists would be willing to take Tuscany along with them, but according to the Padania movement, it's not part of Padania.

For statistical purposes, Italy's census doesn't consider Tuscany to be part of Northern Italy. 

Of course, the folks up in Humboldt County don't consider the Bay Area to be "Northern California."  But they run to the kooky end of things in a lot of ways. 

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 18, 2015.

And northern California secessionists have repeatedly wanted to have Santa Barbara included in their bailiwick when SoCal is jettisoned. California does have its share of characters with opinions.

Toscana is usually considered part of 'Central' Italy, as is Rome. Culturally and historically it's easier to add it to northern Italy if you split the country in two rather than thirds (or fourths or fifths, depending on what you do with Sicily and Sardinia). And I was thinking the Tuscan style of wine, especially Super Tuscans, might be more immediately approachable than certainly Amarone and maybe even Piedmont nebbiolo, as Greg also seems to feel. But then a special bottle of Barolo as discussed here might just offer up that moment of epiphany to the recipient that I had with my first bottle or two of decent Barolo (interestingly enough first Pio Cesare on the lower end then Gaja Sperss on the upper--this was decades ago).

Fox, anytime you have any spare Monprivato lying around that you don't know what to do with, just ship it over here. No need to wait for them to accumulate, even singletons will be welcome!  ;-)

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Reply by William Djubin, Nov 19, 2015.

My mistake. I thought the query was about Northern Italy, near Lago Magoire and Lake Como.​


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