The 10€ Barolo experience
Barolo. One of the most elegant of Italian wines, this famed, delicate Piedmonte interpretation of the Nebbiolo grape has been treasured for years now. It must be noted that it’s a wine that could takes years to soften up and be drinkable. Others thought they could do it faster, and so fruitier, more direct wines came on the market, much to the chagrin of the traditionalists (see, Barolo Boys).
So we arrive to my latest Lidl adventure. For those who may not know it, Lidl was a cheap, bargain grocery store years ago, but has massively redefined itself in recent years to the point where “Italian Week” is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Sure, everything is “own brand” but it’s quite enjoyable own brand and honestly, in the EU, you can’t call it “Grana Padano” unless it actually is. And this is why a bottle of “Barolo” caught my eye last week.
This was marked down from a “high” of 16€ to the astoundingly-palatable price of 10€. Of course, I did have to kinda pause as I know that truly great Barolo starts at a much higher entry point. But I just couldn’t resist despite recalling an Italian friend once telling me years ago in the US, “I bought Barolo for $20 at Trader Joe’s the other day. I thought, how bad could it be? Obviously, I didn’t think hard enough.”
Let me start off by saying that this Barolo wasn’t actually bad at all. Fresh, fruity, full of lift, but really lacking persistence, it’s a fine bottle of wine. Anything representing Barolo, it is not. The tar, wild herbs, and high tension red fruit just wasn’t there. It tastes a great deal more like good Grenache from say DO Cariñena or Calatayud. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but if you want a better value, it exists, usually in Spain, but in Italy as well. If you want a better Barolo, that too exists, but you’re going to need to pay more for it.
But this is why I love Lidl. I’m often buying wines out of curiosity there and while few blow me away (although this Châteauneuf was a steal), they’re all approachable, well-priced wines that if brought out at family meals, I’d have a seriously difficult time getting the least bit sneery about. And this, is a good thing.
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR