2015 Kirkland Signature Barolo, DOCG ($19.99)
2013 Prunotto Barolo, DOCG ($38.99)
Kirkland bottles a Barolo - WHAT!?!
If you know us personally, you know about our obsession with the Langhe, an incredible wine growing area in the larger region of Piedmont in Northwest Italy. To us, this region and it's wines are simply perfect in every way. When we saw this Kirkland Barolo in the bins at our local Costco a few months ago, we were absolutely thrilled and couldn't wait to try it. To our knowledge, this 2015 vintage was the first time that Kirkand has bottled any Nebbiolo wine (the grapes that make up 100% of any Barolo or Barbaresco). But how does it stack up against another Barolo? During our recent travels, we found a 2013 Barolo from a well-reputed producer, Prunotto, at a Costco in Ft. Myers, FL, and we were finally able to do a side-by-side blind tasting!
Wine 1: 1.5 hour bottle decant. Poured a nice red brick color, showing some slight signs of age as the wine gets lighter and more "watery" towards the edges. A subdued nose of tar and roses come through on the nose. The palate is pleasant, with tannins that are present, but not overly austere. A powerful structure is the backbone of this wine, yet somehow it maintains a brightness throughout the taste from beginning to end. The wine seemed slightly tight, but of course Barolo can age for decades, which is one of the hallmark traits of this varietal. We think this wine can go the distance!
Wine 2: 1.5 hour bottle decant. Poured a more consistent ruby/brick color in the glass, perhaps indicating youth. The nose was incredibly expressive - full and lively and fruity and....well, in the most concise way, it smelled like Piemonte. The palate was round and balanced, with sweeter fruits balancing out the tannins. A long and pleasant finish completed the profile. Liz just smelled this wine and then smiled, on repeat. This wine is the definition of our happy place. This is perhaps not an overly complex Barolo, but boy, it sure did taste good!
Both of these wines are fantastic and exhibit the archetypal Barolo characteristics in spades, but for this blog, we did have to pick a wine that was more enjoyable at the time of the tasting. In this case, wine #2 took the top step with a 3-1 victory. The wine? Kirkland Barolo. Wow. This was a bit of a surprise, especially to the VinoVistas pair. On a recent visit to Piemonte, we visited the Prunotto Vineyards and winery in the small village of Castiglione Faletto (Barolo) and absolutely loved the wines and experience. Knowing this wine had a couple of extra years of aging over the Kirkland also led us to think that the Prunotto would be a more "ready" or "drinkable" wine, but we were incorrect in this assumption!
Is it worth it?
Hell. Yes. If you know Barolo wines, you know that they are not easy on the wallet and they often require years of aging before they are approachable. This 2015 blew us away in its drinkability, especially with this price tag. You can find Barolo at this price in the US, but you might likely be a bit disappointed with the quality and taste. Here, you get both. We tried a little bit of sleuthing to determine the producer of this wine and believe it to be Fontanafredda. This is one of the largest and most historic producers in the region and often vinifies their wines in a modern/international style (newer oak/smaller barrels). Their lowest end Barolos usually go for around $40! While we are not sure if this is indeed a wine by Fontanafredda, we are sure that it is a high quality wine and perhaps one of the best quality-to-price-ratios (QPR) you can find in the wine aisles at Costco. How will these wines stack up over time? Who knows. Barolo wines can change dramatically over the long haul. Maybe we will cellar this 2015 and check it out again in another few years? If you see this wine at your local Costco and have the ability to buy a few bottles, you won't regret it!
Is this the best Kirkland bottling ever?
Maybe. We've tried many Kirkland Signature wines, and this one may, in fact, be our most favorite of all time. It checks all the boxes.