Last week, I took a philosophical look at one of my favorite grapes, Italy's nebbiolo, in all of its fantastic forms. This week, I'm back with the must-drink wines you should keep an eye out for next time you're at your local wine shop.
Kirkland Signature Barolo, $20
While it may be just a "grocery store brand," there's no denying that, at $20, this is one of the best bang-for-your-buck values in the state. This is to nebbiolo as "Chopsticks" is to beginner piano students: easy to learn, a crowd-pleaser and downright fun.
Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco, $24
The Vietti family has been making wine since the 1800s, so it's only natural that they are on this list (twice, even!). This is their entry-level bottle, and it shows off a sturdier, more-robust version of the grape. Here you'll get a feel for the delicate, "dusty" nature of nebbiolo's tannins. Be sure to give it a decant before drinking.
Malvira Roero Nebbiolo, $27
At the top end, a single bottle of nebbiolo can easily set you back $150, but fantastic wines exist at every price point. Few exemplify that more than this bottling from the Italian region of Langhe. Ripe with cherry and raspberry notes, this is exactly the kind of wine that will serve as your gateway to nebbiolo obsession.
G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe, $36
This wine blends notes of raspberry and Rainier cherries with fresh herbal notes of mint and licorice. With time and exposure to air, it opens to reveal a softer, more floral side with notes of rose, crushed violet and a touch of lavender. This wine always manages to display a character that befits such a noble grape.
Produttori del Barbaresco, $37
They say that Barbaresco is the "queen" of Italian wines, and few bottles exemplify why like this one. It shows that classic nebbiolo character of power and lightness, like a jumbo jet balanced on a pinhead. Chinese five spice notes on the nose, along with that telltale dusty cherry scent, make it a wine that's just begging to be opened again and again at your table.
Vietti Barolo Castiglione, $54
An entry into the "big boys" of Barolo, Vietti's Barolo Castiglione offers a glimpse into what nebbiolo can be at its pinnacle. Made from a blend of vineyard sites, this wine is rich and powerful, with tannins that will mellow over the next decade. If you're into aging wines, stock up. Vintages to look for include 2013, 2015, and 2016.
As always, you can see what I'm drinking on Instagram at @sethebarlow and send your wine questions and quibbles to email@example.com