Wine of the Week: Barbera d’ Asti Superiore ‘Le Amandole’ Gonella 2009

My wine of the week you probably cannot get hold of easily. I bought it in the Cave de Pyrene sale last week. I ordered some wines pretty much at random, nothing too expensive, nothing too old, and this was the pick of the bunch. Barbera from Piedmont, home of Barberesco and Barolo, may just be my favourite affordable wine. In the right hands it bursts with fruit and freshness, and always with a bitter edge that makes it interesting. This one is a bit of a bruiser. It smells of cooked plums, leather with a trace of vanilla, in the mouth there’s quite a bit of tannin, lots of acidity and then some lovely dark cherry fruit. There’s also some coffee and chocolate but don’t worry, it’s not that sort of wine! It’s also 15% but you wouldn’t notice when sipping it. I drank about half a bottle last night with my wife’s secret recipe meatballs (veal is the secret). It only cost me £7.20 so go and fill your boots. Except of course you can’t because they’re all sold out.

The reason I’m recommending a wine you can’t buy is because wines like this do appear occasionally. All you have to do is befriend wine merchants. I still get a shiver of excitement thinking of the haul of mature Alsace Rieslings from Paul Blanck and Morgons from JM Burgaud I bought for next to nothing in a Jeroboams sale a few years back. I had more cash then so bought cases of the stuff. Wine in this country is expensive because of  VAT, duty and bad exchange rates (I keep a copy of the 2008 Wine Society catalogue just so I can have a weep over the prices.) Your local wine merchant isn’t trying to rip you off. Keep in with him, buy when you can, get on the mailing list and every so often you will be rewarded with a bargain. Tanners have a sale on until 1st October. Go mad, fill your boots!

About Henry

I’m a drinks writer. My day job is features editor at the Master of Malt blog. I also contribute to BBC Good Food, the Spectator and others. You can read some of my work here. I’ve done a bit of radio, given some talks and written a couple of books (Empire of Booze, The Home Bar and the forthcoming Cocktail Dictionary).
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