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Holy Perfectly-Aged (Allocated!) Barolo, Batman!!

These kinds of opportunities don’t come along very often, and that’s why I love some of our small vendors like Ionia Imports out of St. Louis. Frankly, with the big guys, you’re simply not going to get perfectly-aged, library releases of world-class Barolo wine and, if you somehow luck into something like that, you’re gonna pay…well, handsomely. There’s a reason that Barolo is called “king of wines, wine of kings”…at its best, it’s one of the greatest red wines in the world. The problem though, is that to show at its best, it needs many years to unfold (and in some cases, to become even remotely drinkable, due to the high tannin level), and often goes through a sort of ‘dumb’ phase, where it really has nothing to say. Here are some library releases that are just now approaching their prime drinking window. They’ll be delicious now, but will hold for years to come as well. The scores are amazing, and the pricing is even better. Check this out!

First, a bit of history about the family:

The Oddero family, active in the Barolo wine trade since the 1800s, was among the first to commercialize wine from the zone, and through the years they amassed a staggering 70 hectares of land—with Nebbiolo di Barolo comprising over 50 hectares. These acquisitions proved to be remarkably prescient over time, of course, as Barolo’s stature and value have skyrocketed over the past thirty years. Keep in mind, though, that it was not exceptionally long ago that the area was mired in struggle; in the 1950s, a time when the price of a hectare of Dolcetto and a hectare of Nebbiolo here were roughly equivalent, the booming factories of Alba and Torino presented far more attractive job and lifestyle options for local youths than did the toil-intensive hillside vineyards of rural, rustic Barolo. Maintaining an estate of that size in such non-lucrative times required commitment, vision, and a great deal of hard work, and larger-than-life Luigi helmed his family’s operation for many years under these conditions. ]

As is always the case, however, the human side of the seam is far more subject to fraying. Luigi and his brother Giacomo co-owned the Oddero estate until 2006, when insurmountable tensions drove them apart, and the family holdings were divided roughly equally between the two. Giacomo retained the old cellar, and Luigi set up shop in the former winery of local figurehead Luigi Parà, barely a kilometer away in Santa Maria di La Morra. Luigi Oddero passed away in 2010, leaving behind his wife Lena, and their two children Maria and Giovanni, all of whom are involved with the management of the estate. In 2012, Lena hired a man named Dante Scaglioni—a local who had worked for 25 years as the winemaker for the legendary Bruno Giacosa—and it is through Dante’s guidance that the estate’s wines have reached new heights of expressiveness and complexity, building upon the honest, blood-and-guts traditionalism that had always informed them. Today, Dante is in the process of a gradual torch-pass to his protégé Francesco Versio, who worked alongside him at Giacosa toward the end of his tenure there, and who garnered Italy’s “Young Winemaker of the Year” award in 2015.

And what about the wines themselves? We received tiny allocations of two different bottlings: 3 bottles of the 2008 Rocche Riserva, and 5 bottles of the 2008 Vigna Rionda.

2008 Luigi Oddero Barolo “Rocche Riserva”

“The multi-dimensional fragrance gathers crushed blue flower, red rose, perfumed berry, pine, leather, grilled herb and cake spices. The intense palate delivers fleshy black cherry, wild raspberry, licorice, white pepper, and cinnamon, alongside assertive but refined tannins and fresh acidity.” Drink 2018-2028. 95pts Wine Enthusiast.

$79.99/bottle (only 3 bottles available)

2008 Luigi Oddero Barolo “Vigna Rionda”

“It opens with classic aromas of perfumed berry, leather, forest floor, tobacco and a balsamic note while the impeccable palate delivers wild cherry, crushed raspberry, strawberry, chopped herb, white pepper and licorice.” It’s still tight and tannic so give it time to fully develop to its full, amazing potential. Drink 2023-2033″. 96pts Wine Enthusiast

$94.99/bottle (only 5 bottles available!)

These are impeccably-pedigreed, age-worthy, classically-produced wines that are sure to shine on the table now or in the very near future but will likely improve with just a little more time. If you’re looking for a rare Italian wine with a true ‘wow’ factor for yourself or a friend and want to keep things under $100, I can’t think of many better options at the moment! If you want to really experience the “king of wines, wine of kings” the way it’s supposed to be (without having to wait a decade or two, and without breaking the bank!) this is a fantastic, rare opportunity!




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