The Corte Rossa Barolo 2015 is an $11.99 Trader Joe’s import exclusive, 100% Nebbiolo grape from vineyards in the Barolo DOCG region of northwest Italy. The Barolo region in Italy bills itself as the King of Italian wine. Barolo wines typical sell for around forty dollars and the best offerings from the best estates can sell for hundreds of dollars. An $11.99 Barolo is extremely rare.
The DOCG (the G stands for Guarantee)is the Italian wine governing body, they set and enforce the rules and regulations in the vineyard and wine production. In Barolo they are particularly strict, I went to a Barolo seminar where a winemaker told me that the estates have a limit on the number of bottles they can produce each vintage. If they cheat and surpass their quota the DOCG will make them sell the extra bottles as Table Wine (at a much lower price tag) under a separate label.
This ensures that only the vineyard’s best grapes are used and the limited quantity of production keeps the demand and the prices high. This means the grapes that are used for Barolo are the best grapes in the region. Most Estates have second and third labels that sell the excess grapes as Nebbiolo from Piedmont. So even grapes in an $11.99 Trader Joe’s come from the elite Barolo vineyards.
This is a 2015 vintage that is released for sale in 2020. The Corte Rossa Barolo 2015 was aged in oak barrels for three years which exceeds the DOCG regulations of a minimum of 18 months. This is a Barolo that came from the best vineyards and was produced with methods above and beyond the DOCG rules. I suspect that this is a negociant wine. A negociant is a wine dealer that buys excess wines from the vineyards in their area. They can either sell the purchased wine under their own label or blend the various vineyards into their own unique blend (still 100% Nebbiolo).
Since you do not know a wines particulars a negociant succeeds by building trust with his customer. The Corte Rossa Barolo 2015 is from a heavily regulated premier growing region and has the specification (ones we are aware of, anyway) of a typical far more expensive Barolo so we don’t need too big of a leap of faith. Again, I do not know for certain that this Barolo is a negociant wine, but that is my best guess to explain the seriously low price.
The Nebbiolo grape and Barolo wines, in general, are known for having a pretty good dose of tannins. Modern winemaking techniques have softened the effects of the tannins to match today’s wine drinker. But, be warned the tannins may be a bit more than you are used to and if you regularly drink value-priced wines, three years aging in oak barrels will be a change. Some Barolo wines need an additional 10 years of bottle aging to calm down enough to be at their peak. Modern drink-it-now wines and wines that have seen years of oak barrel aging are two very different styles of wine. The alcohol content is 14%.
Corte Rossa Barolo 2015 Tasting Notes
The color is a garnet red. The nose is raspberry and oak spice, cinnamon and vanilla, and smoke and cherry. This is a wine with dusty tannins, most modern wines do their best to minimize the tannins, but not here. This is a medium-bodied wine with sleek fruit flavors of black cherry, strawberry, sharp spice, black pepper, extracted blackberry, and tart cranberry. The mid-palate adds chocolate powder, and the tannins get really chewy of the mid-palate (a good thing), along with a late slap of red berries in cream.
The acidity is well-balanced and the tannins added to the overall enjoyment of this Barolo if they were not in the mix you would have been cheated. Give this wine extra time to open up and you will be rewarded. It can be a little rough when it is “tight”. I pulled the cork a couple of hours earlier and then poured my glass with an aerator and it still needed more time.
- The Corte Rossa Barolo 2015 is a no-brainer, it is $11.99, these are wines that can retail in the $40 to $60 range. Even if it was 1/2 as good as those Barolo’s it would still be a bargain.
- I admit to being no Barolo expert, I have gone to a Barolo seminar and tasted a bunch at Trade Tastings, so I am not completely Barolo illiterate.
- So, when this Barolo opens up and is at its best it is a tasty wine. I have had a few knock-out Barolo wines and Corte Rossa isn’t in that category.
- But it is a wine that is very enjoyable and well worth buying. If you have never sampled Barolo or don’t have much experience with a Red wine with a good amount of oak aging, this is an excellent place to start.