You probably won't thank us for this but isn't it time you started thinking about the holiday season?
True, Halloween isn't even here yet, but you can't start planning too early for the major gift-giving part of the Western calendar, even if that seems too awful to contemplate this early in October.
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|Italy's Vineyards in Lockdown Limbo|
|The Barolo Style Guide|
However, it needs to be done and so we are helping out by starting our "best wines" series today. This series will list the best wines across various styles, regions and grape varieties, based on our aggregated critic scores and presented in an easy-to-follow format that highlights the 10 best wines in each category. We'll then run our annual list of the 10 best wines overall, in case you need some inspiration as to what you might buy as a present for yourself.
We're no longer interested in mere popularity, price or value – we're looking for the best of everything as we swing into the butt end of a year we'd all rather forget.
A note about our critic scores, by the way. Wine-Searcher collates scores from a wide range of critics, from influential single palates like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson to publications like Wine Spectator, all adjusted for the 100-point scale. To generate a wine's aggregate score, Wine-Searcher uses a Bayesian methodology to calculate a weighted average, since not all critics are equal. This score is calculated for specific vintages of a wine, as well as across all vintages.
We start in Barolo and find, to our surprise, that we haven't run this list of the region before.
That's quite a surprise, given the importance of the region to Italy's prestige wine image. Or perhaps that should be "perceived" importance; while Barolo features highly in the lists of the best and most expensive wines in Italy, it only manages to fill two spaces on the list of Italy's most searched-for wines, amid a sea of Super Tuscans and a solitary Barbaresco.
And yet, Barolo is revered among collectors both for its impressive longevity and its signature "tar and roses" aromas. It represents the apotheosis of the Nebbiolo grape, which thrives in the foggy, cool conditions found in late harvest time there, and it sits alongside Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino in being the first regions to be elevated to DOCG status in the Italian wine hierarchy.
So, let's take a look at the wines.The World's Best Barolos on Wine-Searcher:
|Wine Name||Score||Ave Price|
|Giacomo Conterno Monfortino||96||$1244|
|Poderi Aldo Conterno Romirasco Bussia||94||$210|
|Massolino Vigna Rionda Riserva||94||$139|
|Luciano Sandrone Aleste-Cannubi Boschis||94||$151|
|Bruno Giacosa Falleto Vigna Le Rocche||94||$429|
|Giacomo Conterno Cerretta||94||$271|
|Gaja Sperss Langhe||94||$268|
|Giacomo Conterno Francia||94||$305|
|Voerzio Riserva Vecchie Viti dei Capalot e Brunate||94||$233|
|Giuseppe Rinaldi Brunate-Le Coste||94||$374|
The first thing you notice is that the name Giacomo Conterno features strongly, with three wines on the list. This is hardly surprising, given Conterno's reputation among critics, collectors and wine lovers generally.
The Monfortino that tops this list is a special wine. Only made in the best years (which, in reality, means 10 of the past 20 years), it was the first Italian wine to break the $1000 a bottle average price barrier and its remorseless rise in both price and popularity has been impressive; five years ago a bottle would set you back just $684 on average.
Generally, though, prices are more down-to-earth. For the level of quality involved, they offer remarkably good value, especially when compared with wines from comparable regions elsewhere. In such uncertain times – Covid, political upheaval, trade and tariff wars – it's nice to think there is some stability in a scarily fluid world.
If you're looking for holiday wine destinations, Barolo looks like a good place to start.