quote:Originally posted by Bowser:
The three Italian Killer B's are Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello. The first two originate in villages of the same name in Piedmont and are made from the Nebbiolo grape. Brunello di Montalcino is a version of the Sangiovese grape, Brunello, grown in the town of Montalcino in the southern part of Tuscany. All three wines can develop quite a bit of complexity and are among the most treasured Italian wines. They are also expensive, although when compared to Bordeaux and Burgundy of a similar "quality" they can still be considered bargains.
1997 was a great vintage for all three wines, 98-2001 were also great for Barolo/Barbaresco and 2001 particularly good for Brunello. As mentioned avoid 2002 for all three, 2003 remains to be decided. There are some good 2000 Brunello wines available but be choosey.
I find Barbaresco more approachable than Barolo when young. Try drinking Barbaresco from 1997-2000 and 2001 is also drinking well now when decanted for about an hour. I recently had some 1999 Pio Cesare Barbaresco and 1998 Barolo that required about an hour of areation and even then they changed over the course of the hour we drank them. Some brands are easily found in most locations and the quality is dependable: Banfi Brunello, Banfi Poggio alla Mura, Pio Cesare Barolo/Barbaresco and Batasiolo Barbaresco are all decent and dependable, typically getting 90+ WS points annually.
While these wines are approachable from about 7-8 years from vintage date, 10-15 is better and when cellared properly 20-25 is possible. Like a lot of really great wine you get what you pay for, so don't be afraid to pony up over $50 for one of these.