Great Wines Under $30–Barbera d’Asti

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Le Orme” 2010

Seriously tasty

Seriously tasty and only $12

I first encountered the wines of Michele Chiarlo a few years ago when I tried the family-owned winery’s 2006 Barolo Tortoniano (Tortoniano refers to the Tortonian soils in some of the vineyards, which is rich in calcareous marl and results in a soft and particularly elegant style of Barolo). I always enjoy wine, but sometimes I come across a bottle that takes me beyond everyday concerns like price, food compatibility and aroma and structural assessment. The Barolo Tortoniano moved beyond the intellectual into the hedonistic—medium bodied, full of juicy red fruit and floral aromas and so delicious that I just couldn’t stop smelling it, and tasting it, and smelling it again…it was utterly intoxicating!

Since this first experience, I’ve tried several other Michele Chiarlo wines and have never been disappointed. Last week, I wanted a good bottle to serve with dinner but didn’t want to pay the high price of Barolo. I decided on a bottle of 2010 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Le Orme” for just $12. The Barbera grape has relatively high acidity but is low in tannin, with plenty of tart red fruit and spicy, herbal qualities. This bottle reinforces my belief that you don’t have to pay a fortune to drink good wine. It’s ideal with several types of cuisine and definitely a wine to try as we move into autumn and start roasting chicken, red meats and mushrooms. Best of all, this wine still has the Chiarlo signature—it’s simply delicious and leaves you wanting more. Cheers!

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