Barolo That Doesn’t Bankrupt: Bruna Grimaldi

Some things – like wine – are just too good to be true. Whether it’s an old bottle of Montrachet on the discount rack for the price of a Puligny-Montrachet or a Brunello di Montalcino priced the same as the rosso. Buyer beware is a bit of good advice and that applies to the world of Barolo where the buy-in has creeped well below the $50 price range, at times even dipping below $30.

The prerequisites for Barolo obviously require its origins to be from the region or zone of Barolo. There are limits to the yield, the alcohol and aging of the wines in oak and in bottle before release. It’s reputation has benefitted from these rules as well as the individual producers’ quality control in guaranteeing only their best grapes make it into the Barolo, single vineyard Barolo’s and Reserve-level wines. Unfortunately it seems the demand and the competitive nature of the market has pushed prices southward while diffusing the self regulating force that has kept less than outstanding grapes – like those from younger vines – out of the Barolo labeled wines.

There are producers like Piedmont’s Roagna that declassify wines from less than perfect harvests or younger plantings into simply “Langhe” wines that compete with pricier Barolos. That doesn’t mean Barolo can’t be great and affordable. In the past we’ve had producers like Silvio Grasso who have been able to deliver the expected quality of the region for $35, but it’s not common, and we didn’t expect to find many more in that price range until tasting Bruna Grimaldi’s 2009 Camille Barolo.

Grimaldi pulls off typicity and value with what Wine Advocate describes ascharacteristic Nebbiolo aromas of wild berry, dried mint, licorice tar and pressed rose.” While ripe and even now ready to drink, this wines pulls off elegance and femininity in a plush frame that finishes with just enough rusticity to fulfill the expectations of an obviously young Barolo.

The producer avoids herbicides and pesticides in the vineyard, harvesting by hand and using gentle methods of moving and processing grapes in the cellar. While the winery is certainly considered a modern one – with daughter Bruna Grimaldi creating the brand in 1999 – the winemaking philosophy avoids the typical modern conveniences of additives or chemical and mechanical manipulation in the cellar. The result is undeniably Barolo for a competitive price that the Wine Advocate thought was worthy of 93 points for under $40.

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