Three Good Value Wines

Over the last weeks I tasted a good number of reds. In this post I will highlight three of them of which I believe are of particularly good value. The first is a Barolo, the second a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the third a Cannonau Riserva. 

2007 Erbaluna – Vigna Rocche – Barolo DOCG

Barolo is without question one of the Kings of Italian wine. It is produced with Nebbiolo, one of the most tannic grape varieties in the world, in Northern Italy, in Piedmont to be precise. Unfortunately, Barolo tends to be rather expensive. The more famous producers like Aldo Conterno charge several hundred Euros for a bottle of single vineyard Barolo, yet the demand for Barolo has remained high for several decades.

But popularity is not the only reason why Barolo is expensive. Production costs are very high because only Nebbiolo grapes are permitted by the tight DOCG regulations and Nebbiolo is quite difficult to grow. It is one of the first grape varieties to flower and one of the last to ripen which is why it suffers often from bad weather. A standard Barolo has to age 38 months before the winery is allowed to put it into commerce, however the minimum aging in wooden barrels is just 18 months.

The cellar from Erbaluna is located in the famous wine producing town La Morra and the 15 hectares of vineyards are located nearby. The vineyards are located about 350 meters above sea level and have mostly a calcareous terrain with layers of sandstone.

2007 Erbaluna - Vigna Rocche - Barolo DOCGNext to Barolo, Erbaluna also makes Dolcetto and Barbera wines but that’s a topic for another time. Vigna Rocche is a single vineyard Barolo sourced from old-vine Nebbiolo grapes. After an extended fermentation of about 20+ days the wine aged for 24 months in large oak casks of 30-33 Hl.

Prior to drinking the wine was decanted for about 90 minutes. The label listed alcohol by volume is 15%.

In the glass, Vigna Rocche has a garnet red color with orange overtones. The nose is very intense and harmonious. It opens with beautiful rosemary and blackcurrant aromas, followed by leather, viola, marasca cherries and hints of truffles. Vivid and very dry on the palate with notes of raspberries and cocoa. Vigna Rocchehas a good acidity and powerful tannins but over all it is well-balanced. This is a complex, full-bodied wine which has a great structure and spectacular finish.

4 stars Average price on Wine Searcher: €36

I am looking forward to retaste the 2007 Vigna Rocche after some bottle aging in a couple of years. If you are looking for a quality Barolo which retails for under €50 then give Vigna Rocche a try.

2010 Nicodemi – Notari – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG

Central Italy is home to some of the country’s best good-value wines. Marche is known for its highly mineral and super tasty Verdicchio, in Umbria it’s all about the highly tannic Sagrantino and in Abruzzo the best wines are sourced from delicious Montepulciano. Montepulciano is grown throughout the region but the most-favorable terrain and growing conditions are found near the hills surrounding the ancient town Teramo. This subregion is known as Colline Teramane which means Hills of Teramo. In 2003 the Colline Teramane subregion was awarded DOCG status.

The Nicodemi winery was founded in the 1970s and is in present-day run by the two daughters of the founder Bruno Nicodemi. They own about 40 hectares in the Colline Teramane subregion. Nicodemi’s flagship wine is the Neromoro (follow this link for my 2007 Neromoro tasting notes) and it’s little brother is called Notari. Both wines are varietal Montepulciano.2010 Nicodemi - Notari - Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG

Notari aged for about 12 months in French barriques. The wine comes with a label-listed ABV of 14%.

Deep ruby color. Aromatic nose which opens with black cherries, licorice and plums. There are also earthy aromas and hints of mushrooms. Medium-bodied with very soft, subtle tannins and a balanced acidity. This is a flavorful Montepulciano with berries, spices and dark chocolate notes. Good length.

3.5 stars Average price on Wine Searcher: €15

Granted, there are better Montepulciano d’Abruzzo out there but for this quality the price is more than fair. Enjoy!

2008 Meloni – Le Ghiaie – Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva DOC

The last wine in this post comes from beautiful Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, and is sourced from Cannonau grapes. Cannonau is one of the signature grapes of the island and although it is considered an autochthonous grape variety, recent DNA analysis has shown that it is identical with the Spanish Garnacha. This is no surprise really given the history of the island. Many centuries ago, Sardinia used to be a possession of the Spanish Crown. The Spanish brought viticulture to the island and planted some of their native grapes like Carignano and Cannonau.

Cannonau is the grape behind some of the island’s most well-known reds like Turriga (a blend with about 85% Cannonau).

2008 Meloni - Le Ghiaie - Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva DOCLe Ghiaie is produced with 100% Cannonau grapes and aged, according to the fact sheet, for at least one year in oak – the minimum aging in oak for a Cannonau Riserva is just six months.

The bottle was uncorked about one hour before pouring the glasses. The wine has a label-listed ABV of 14%.

Le Ghiaie has a thick ruby red color in the glass. On the nose there are lots of berries, in particular mulberries, woodland strawberries and blueberries but also earth, tobacco leaves and spices like vanilla. In the mouth, very dry and warm with pleasing, mellow tannins. Harmonious and round with lots of depth and complexity. Lingering aftertaste.

4 stars Avergage price on Wine Searcher: €25

Le Ghiaie is one of those Cannonau Riserva which I am always looking forward to. It has never disappointed me.

Parting Words

This concludes this post on good value wines. I’d love to know if you have tasted any of these three wines before. Cheers and Happy Sunday!


7 comments on “Three Good Value Wines”

  1. Sean P. Reply

    Barolos are great. Haven’t tried Erbaluna before but I love Conterno, La Spineta and Fontanafredda. They are the best producers in my opinion.

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