Two Value-Play Winners From Pricey Catogories: Burgundy and Barbaresco

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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I came across an interesting story today about how a Wellesley author's father's blogging efforts "robbed" the author of his unique identity as the author of the family. The father recently retired and all he did was play golf, watch soccer, and read books. Sound pretty nice if you ask me. The point that struck a chord was that the father channeled his voracious book-a-day appetite into a unique online review format - published via a blog.

I thought to myself: I usually taste a new wine every day, why don't I write about each of them?

The reason I don't blog every day is because in spite my unrelenting efforts to triangulate professional ratings, low prices, and availability, many wines I try are just "good" or "very good" and don't seem worthy of telling people about.

I try to find interesting stories in wines and relate recommendations that are relevant and interesting. But sometimes I think I should just knock out a post and move on. This is just blogging after all.

With that in mind here are a couple of winners I came across tonight:

2007 Domaine Pierre Janny Bourgogne Blanc Echavon
About $12

The other day I was in Bin Ends picking up some 2003 Albino Rocca Brich Ronchi they had at a great price. Dan Kline asked me if I ever drink white wine. I would have enjoyed a long conversation on the subject but in the interest of time I said "not really" and left it at that.

The reality is I'm often disappointed with white wines and even if I end up liking them I don't look forward to opening them. A few months ago I stopped in and asked for a recommendation in the tricky white Burgundy category. This wine was that recommendation.

I cringed as I opened it thinking it was going to be limited aromatically. However, the wine was an absolute delight to drink. There's no way I would have pegged this as French if I tasted it blind. Such a nice tropical aromatic nose but as you taste it, it reigns in its gregarious nature. Green apples on the palate and a touch of acidity. Perhaps the best thing I liked about it was the linear enjoyable aftertaste - it avoided the quirky flavor markers so many domestic Chardonnays seem to display.

A stunning and pleasant surprise.

I've heard "If you think you found a cheap Burgundy - you probably found a cheap Burgundy." Maybe that applies mostly to reds?

Purchased at: Bin Ends Wine
91/100 WWP: Outstanding


2007 Col Dei Venti Tufo Blu Barbaresco
$31 Release Price

My interest in Barbaresco continues to evolve, and along the way I've been comparing notes for the highly regarded 2007 vintage from The Wine Advocate's Antonio Galloni and Wine Spectator's newly minted Piedmont editor Bruce Sanderson.

Galloni used to pen Piedmont Report and I've found his reviews on Italian wines to be useful. Sanderson's coverage of the region started just recently. In comparing their notes on the 2007 Pelissero Barbaresco Nubiola I found better alignment with Sanderson than Galloni however:

Where's the fruit? I realize this is super-young but I've got to favor WS's opinion over WA on this one. I think Bruce Sanderson nailed it: "Dense and austere in flavor, with a muscular structure dominating any fruit."

Compare this with Galloni's note: "caresses the palate with layers of round, sumptuous fruit. This is a more generous, enveloping style than the Tulin, and shows just an extra touch more depth. Dark red fruit, sweet spices".

Sweet spices? Sumptuous fruit? You've got to be kidding me. This wine is dark, brooding, and austere. It's more like a Barolo than a Barbaresco.

Props to Sanderson for good work in his rookie season covering Piedmont. I'll pay attention to his notes going forward.


The 2007 Col Dei Venti is a wine Spectator's Sanderson thought highly of. At 94 WS/$31 release price it's quite a QPR-bender. Even better if you can snag it for around $25.

The wine is a beauty and incredibly approachable for a young Barbaresco. It's lower in acidity with softer tannins than most Barbaresco I've tasted. It's plush and forgiving.

Flavor wise it's classic Nebbiolo. Each sip starts with light red raspberries and floral aromatics. I noted a striking aroma of Crayola crayons in an elementary school desk drawer. Quite amazing and persistent across a couple glasses. Wow - really interesting.

Purchased at: Wine Connextion 
92/100 WWP: Outstanding

So there you have it. Two outstanding wines in categories notorious for being hard to find value. 

PS That's our 4 year old in the photo above whining at the dinner table while I took the photo. It was a little bit of a rough night but in the interest of knocking a blog post out - there you have it. :)

Question of the Day: Have you had either of these wines? Let me know what you think of them in the comments if you've had them. If not - have you found any good values in Burgundy or Barbaresco lately?

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