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.