Some of the best wine producers in Italy's Piedmont region put rare bottles of their Barolos on the block this week. On Sept. 4, a small auction -- featuring vintages from 1949 to 1990 -- brought in a total of about $15,000 from a handful of buyers, including a number of American restaurateurs.
This is the third year that the commercial Asta del Barolo event has been held. "We buy the wine from producers or private collectors and then auction it," said vintner Gianni Gagliardo, who hosts the auction each year at his winery in La Morra. "The proceeds basically cover the event, which has its expenses. Our idea is to promote our region's wines and the Barolo appellation."
About 180 people attended the event, including owners and representatives of at least 20 local producers -- including Ceretto, Michele Chiarlo, Domenico Clerico, Bruno Giacosa, Pio Cesare, Rocche dei Manzoni and Vietti -- all eager to see what prices their wines would fetch.
American bidders included Italian-restaurant owners, such as Piero Selvaggio of Valentino in Los Angeles, who went home with nine lots. Blair Taylor, owner of Enotec Imports and the Barolo Grill in Denver, bought five lots for himself and his clients, which include Spago in San Francisco and San Domenico and Osteria del Circo in New York.
Highlights included a bottle of Aldo Conterno Barolo 1958, which went for $170, and a lot consisting of a 1-liter bottle of Zabaldano Barolo Chinato and a 1-liter bottle of Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Chinato (both without vintage dates, but believed to be 25 to 30 years old), which fetched $350.
Other lots of interest included a magnum of Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc 1985 and a magnum of Bric del Fiasc 1989 ($470), a double magnum of Gianni Gagliardo Barolo Preve 1990 ($465) and 12 bottles of Rinaldi Francesco & Figli Barolo 1971 ($1,500).