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Barolo Bounty: Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto and Five Under $100 Baroli! And Billecart-Salmon Champagne!
December 14, 2016
A Note from Sergio

Since the 1920s, Champagne has been the most popular holiday wine in America, but I like a very different drink around this time of year. I like to give, receive, and drink Barolo.

Holiday Barolo tells an old story. After World War II, Piemonte's economy was effectively decimated. Most high-end winemakers were desperate--they didn't have a market, and they didn't have the funds to keep making wine without a profit. Yet the Piemontese are deeply bound to their traditions, and even widespread poverty couldn't stop people from saving up their lire all year. They wanted to buy at least one beautiful Christmas present for their friends or family, and that present was a bottle of Barolo. As December 25 neared, the Piemontese held onto this Barolo tradition, and even after enduring years of oppressive recession, these families and friends would open a bottle of Barolo and drink it together.

In many ways, this holiday practice saved some of Barolo's most established houses from going under; this one windfall gave them enough support to continue through a difficult year. Major companies, like Fiat and Pirelli in Barolo's neighboring city, Torino, took up the practice, buying Barolo and handing it out to employees, clients, and friends. And still other companies, like Nutella, in nearby Alba, employed farmers during the off-season, allowing them to remain near their land and support their families. The combination of these forces kept alive an important wine--and an important part of culture--that would likely have otherwise disappeared.

This tradition and its legacy explain why I still buy Barolo for the holidays. I like to honor the tradition that secured the future for Bruno Giacosa, for Domenico Clerico, for Renzo Seghesio, and others. And I also like to give and get something that can be enjoyed by both enthusiasts, who might want to drink it right away, and collectors, who can keep it in the cellar for decades. Below you'll find five beautiful Baroli. One is a recent release from Bruno Giacosa, the estate's 2012 Barolo Falletto, and it's a collector icon. The other five are affordable wines from some makers you know and love, and from others you should come to know and love--these wines are all under $100, and they're perfect holiday gifts.

Finally, there's one beautiful bottle of rosé Champagne, in case you want to do holidays the American way!

Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence:
Compelling, Structured 2012 Giacosa Barolo Falleto
2. Only At IWM:
Five Beautiful Baroli Under $100!
3. Time Sensitive Offer: Your Go-To Rosé Champagne from Billecart-Salmon
4. Wine Events: Upcoming December Wine Tasting Events

My Best,
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Sergio Esposito
Owner/Founder
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Renzo Seghesio Barolo 2009 750ml
Renzo Seghesio Barolo 2009 750ml
Price: $76.99
Currently Unavailable.

This Barolo almost reaches out and pulls you to the glass! Crushed rose and violet petals hug the succulent red fruits in this welcoming, silky ’09 wine; exotic spices, grilled herbs, citrus zest and a kiss of iron complete the aromatic landscape. Chewy tannins hug the palate, yet this Barolo feels weightless; energized by acidity and piquant minerality, it builds to a lingering finish. Sourced from the estate’s five-acre holdings in the historic Pajana vineyard in Ginestra, this very approachable Seghesio Barolo offers a nice red color with bits of orange tinge on the rim, a cue to its nose of bright red fruits, earth and cherry. The grapes for this wine ferment in stainless steel for about two weeks, and the wine ages in oak barrels for three or four years before bottling. more info
Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo 2011 750ml
Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo 2011 750ml
Price: $82.99
Currently Unavailable.

Enchanting red fruit, baking spices, crushed rose petals, and a touch of earth make the ’11 Barolo Bussia captivating. A product of warm weather, this Barolo offers tremendous near-term drinking, and its seamless structure, silky mouth-feel and polished tannins will have you reaching for another bottle. Now called Barolo “Bussia,” even the basic Barolo of Aldo Conterno has garnered a reputation for being a generous, open, genial wine, and now with a half-decade of age, this wine is entering its drinking window. Crafted from grapes grown on twenty-year-old vines and spending three years in Slavonian oak followed by twelve months in bottle before release, this “basic” Barolo is anything but simple. more info
Scarzello Vigna Merenda Sarmassa Barolo 2008 750ml
Scarzello Vigna Merenda Sarmassa Barolo 2008 750ml
Price: $84.99
Currently Unavailable.

Restraint is the name in this understated, sophisticated ’08 Barolo. Sour cherries layer with dried violets, crushed almonds, stony minerals, and tarry earth in this subtle, grippy wine. This wine uncoils on the palate to reveal copious chewy tannins, bright acidity, and driving minerals; it’s a dark, structured beauty that will age wonderfully. Deriving from the estate’s scant five-acre Vigna Merenda plot in the heart of the Sarmassa subzone, this wine is produced only in the best vintages, and its aging regimen ferments the four Vigna Merenda parcels separately, blending the constituents after a year of aging. The grapes for this wine macerate for 50 days, and the wine ages for 30 months in Slavonian oak followed by two years in bottle before release. more info
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose 750ml
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose 750ml
Price: $96.99
Currently Unavailable.

Racy, fresh, and structured, this non-vintage Rosé Champagne is a complete class act. Strawberries and cassis layer over brioche and roses in this medium-bodied, beautifully blush, quintessentially elegant wine. A blend of 45% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier, the wine is brisk on the attack and finishes soft with flavors of red berries, toasted nuts and a cleansing minerality. This traditional, classic Rosé Champagne is remarkably flexible, pairing with a wide array of dishes; it’s ideal to have on hand to celebrate your special moments. more info
Prunotto Barolo Bussia 2009 750ml
Prunotto Barolo Bussia 2009 750ml
Price: $99.00

Juicy red and blue fruits cavort with warm saddle leather, licorice, rich baking spices, truffle and freshly tilled earth in this classic, evocative ’09 Barolo Bussia from Antinori’s Prunotto estate. Crossing the palate, this Barolo unleashes robust, chewy tannins, a sweet inner perfume, and thrumming notes of underbrush. It’s a very satisfying, mid-weight Barolo that serves up its Bussia terroir with transparency and style. Deriving from the estate’s vineyard in Bussia, the grapes for this wine ferment for about two weeks in temperature-controlled stainless steel; the wine ages in oak casks for eighteen months before aging in bottle. more info
Domenico Clerico Barolo Pajana 2010 750ml
Domenico Clerico Barolo Pajana 2010 750ml
Price: $109.99
Currently Unavailable.

Juicy cherries and wild berries mingle with violet petals, kisses of menthol and forest floor, truffle, cigar wrapper and spices in the seamless, expressive ‘10 Barolo Pajana from Domenico Clerico. This wine is propelled by its almost kinetic energy and freshness; chewy, substantial tannins linger on the finish, suggesting that this Barolo has years ahead of it. Recognizable from its incredible concentration and lasting finish, the Barolo Pajana is a product of the Ginestra vineyard, a subzone of Barolo already known in the nineteenth century for its superior wines with full bodies. Planted around 1965-1970, Clerico’s 7.5-acre Pajana vineyard’s south-facing slopes benefit from a lot of sun; grapes macerate on the skins for twenty to thirty days, and the wine ages for 24 to 30 months in barriques, 80% new. more info
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga 2012 750ml
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga 2012 750ml
Price: $264.99

2012 was an atypical growing year for Piemonte--a snowy winter led to a warm summer, but harvest saw cool temperatures--but this radiant Barolo from Bruno Giacosa embodies the grace of the vintage in its open-knit, aromatic profile. Grape yields were also down about a third in 2012, so this Barolo is extra intense and dense; however, it nonetheless conveys Giacosa’s extraordinary hand in its purity, structure and telltale Serralunga palate of bright red fruits, rose petals, scorched earth, and smoke. Balanced and sinuous, this ’12 Barolo belies its warm vintage with its fresh acidity and beautiful structure. One of the most iconic wines from one of the greatest masters of Barolo, Giacosa's Barolo Falletto di Serralunga derives from vineyards that reach 420 meters above sea level, making it an ideal site for warm vintage wines. Grapes for this Barolo ferment for 15 days in stainless steel, and the wine ages for 32 months in barrel, followed by eight months in bottle. more info