Great Values for the Cellar 2

Age-worthy Italians that won't break the bank


We got started last time with a short list of cellarable wine values for the cellar. I only touched on Portugal and Spain, but judging from the response it looks like we’re going to have to dig a bit deeper to satisfy every palate out there. This week we return to the regions that are nearest and dearest to my heart: The great wine-producing valleys of northern Italy. I love Barolo and Barbaresco, but almost all of them are just getting too expensive, so we'll be focusing on the alternatives out there for the savvy shopper.

With all the great wines coming from other regions, it’s not like we need Barolo or Barbaresco in the cellar.  Heck, who am I fooling -- I need some Nebbiolo in the cellar, and you know what, you can still satisfy your craving for great Nebbiolo and not break the bank, but don’t ignore the rest of the top of the boot as a source of fantastic values.

Want more wine?

Don't miss the first installment of Starting a Cellar on a Budget, or our round-up of 12 Great Values in Cabernet. While you're there, check out tips for Fixing 7 Common Wine Emergencies and Pairing Red Wine with Fish.
To me there is no finer wine than a perfectly-aged Barolo. Barbaresco, sort of Barolo’s twin sister, also fits the bill. The only problem here is that the prices for almost all of these wines have gone crazy over the past few years putting them out of reach for most of the world’s wine lovers. Now, that’s to be expected since the production figures for most producers are miniscule, typically in the 1000s of bottle for most Barolos and Barbaresco (compare that with Bordeaux, where production numbers can be measured in the tens of thousands of CASES). Yet there are still a handful of producers who make world class wines and somehow charge pretty modestly for them. Guido Porro is tops on my list in Barolo. His wines are awesome, and while $40 is not cheap, it’s a really fair price for this quality. Shop around and you might even be able to find the wines for less!

Two to Try

Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco

Here’s a tip: Piedmont has been on an epic roll as of late with an unheard of string of successful vintages. 2006 is a classic vintage with excellent balance that bodes well for the future, and while 2007 may be too hot to be a classic vintage for the best Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards, the base-level Langhe Nebbiolo should be great!

I’ve already said that Sangiovese and Chianti are some of my favorite, go-to wines. They also can age spectacularly well and, luckily enough, I happen to really like some of the less expensive wines produced in a traditional style from Chianti, as well as Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. I’d love to include some Brunello here, but the truth is I can’t think of one that is still cheap enough. These are wines that sometimes don’t wow you in their youth, especially if you’re looking for power, but become beguiling with a bit of age on them. My all-time favorite Chianti has to be the Chianti Classico Riserva from Monsanto. Monsanto is one of the most consistent producers whose wines age gracefully and are downright cheap!

Two to Try

Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Selvapiana Chainti Ruffina Riserva Bucerchiale

My secret selection: OK, so this may not really be a secret, but the Steinraffler Lagrein from J. Hoftatter is a remarkable wine that ages into a thing of beauty, and never fails to impress anybody who tries it! Seriously, it's got something for everybody. It’s not the cheapest wine on the block but at about $40 a bottle or less, it’s worth every penny.

Want more collecting advice? Don't miss part one of Starting a Cellar on a Budget.

Two Great Ways to Start Your Cellar

Guido Porro Barolo
Guido Porro is tops on my list in Barolo. His wines are awesome, and are sold at a really fair price for this quality.

Chianti Classico Riserva from Monsanto

My all-time favorite Chianti, from one of the most consistent producers whose wines age gracefully and are downright cheap!

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: z235e49
    199151 5

    dei also makes a rosso di montepulciano which is delicious. it is about $15 or so

    May 06, 2010 at 1:13 PM

  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,324

    I still wish I had a cellar.

    May 06, 2010 at 2:56 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Have to agree about Dei! Just wrote an article on their wines last week or so, which you can find here:

    May 06, 2010 at 8:20 PM

  • Go more southward!
    Look to the great wines of Calabria, Sicilia!

    May 07, 2010 at 5:27 AM

  • A few jems to add as well starting from the North of Italy South: REDS ONLY
    - Pio Cesare Nibbiolo and Fides
    - Ca del Bosco Cortefranca, Terre di Franciacorta Rosso
    - Giorgi Buttafuoco
    - Villa Gasparini Loredan 'Venegazzu'
    - Negri 5 Stelle Sfursat
    - Marcato Pian Alto Colli Berici Cab Sauvignon
    - Musella Monte del Drago
    - Campo de Sasso all
    - Montepelos Nardo
    - Volpaia Coltassala
    - Banfi Cum Laude
    - Valle Reale San Calisto
    - Arnaldo Caprai Montelfalco
    - Felline ...
    -Amano Primativo riserva
    - Due Palme . all
    - Planeta S. Cecilia
    - Abbazia Santa Anastasia Litra
    - Argiolas Turriga
    - Cherchi

    Too many to list ... let your taste travel! Love the wines ...

    May 07, 2010 at 6:34 AM

  • Snooth User: hermlam
    252330 3

    Dear Mark. I have had that wish for years, but now i'have built my own celler. In the attic. At a perfect 13.5 to 14 degrees celsius.
    With good isolation and a Eurocave cooler.

    May 07, 2010 at 7:13 AM

  • Snooth User: vino307
    253676 6

    Mark. Just build a cellar in my three bay brick
    garage took one bay and made it in 10x10 well
    insulated and installed a wine mate 4500 will cool
    1000cf at temp.that I desire.I am very happy w/it.

    May 07, 2010 at 11:08 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Great suggestions folks!

    Herm and Vino - nice work!

    Do you have any pics to share, would love to be able to display folks cellars in an article.

    May 07, 2010 at 11:35 AM

  • Snooth User: hermlam
    252330 3

    Dear Gregory,
    I will send you some pictures, the making of and a cellar full of wine.
    Where can i send them to?

    May 07, 2010 at 3:57 PM

  • Snooth User: shadowhg
    363388 1

    Just in perfect time, leaving for Italy next week and will spend most of two weeks in the wine country. Hope to find some good wines that I can afford when I get back and add to my new cellar.

    May 07, 2010 at 9:17 PM

  • Lagrein from Tiefenbrunner in Alto Adige/SudTirol is also a memorable red, our 2007 allocation was in and out of the house in record time. Well mentioned for the Lagrein - am not familiar with yours, but its one of those varieties worth buying and drinking when seen.

    May 10, 2010 at 6:30 AM

  • Snooth User: linnet
    93793 90

    My great value Italian this year so far are:
    -Argriano's Rosso di Montalcino 2007, more refine than typical Rosso.
    -Azienda Tenimenti Luigi d' Alessandro's Cortona Syrah 2007, a Syrah with Italian twist, very interesting indeed.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,085

    Another great every day Italian is Montepulciano D' Abruzzo By Bucaro. It has soft tannins so it can be drunk young. The price is a rediculous $12.00.

    May 20, 2010 at 7:12 AM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network