This is Nerello's bastard wine--70% Piedmontese and 30% Tuscan. As the label partially explains, excess Nebbiolo grapes not making the cut for either Barolo or Barbaresco (that's the Piedmont parent) were blended with Sangiovese from Tuscany. For several years, this has been one of my favorite bargains ($5.99) from Trader Joe's, and I put away a few bottles of three vintages (1999, 2000 and 2002) to see how well they would age. From this bottle of 1999, I would say so far, so good.
The color is classic--a deep ruby at the center shading out to amber at the rim. It's not as dark or bluish as it was a couple of years ago but there are no signs of over-maturity. I smell black cherries, licorice and roses--the same as before but more subtle now and less flamboyant. It's really beginning to develop some Barolo-like complexity. The changes in flavors are more noticeable. The acidity is more pronounced and the wine is very dry. But again, the Nebbiolo flavors are becoming more subtle and complex as they lose their fruit-oriented flamboyance. The Nebbiolo portion of this wine has been aged in cask for four years, to meet the minimum requirements for Barolo and Barbaresco. It was culled not necessarily because of lower quality but because appellation laws limit the amount of Barolo and Barbaresco that can be produced each vintage. I like the future of this 1999, at least for the next year or two, and I suspect the 2000 might age even better. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any vintages of Nerello del Bastardo, at any price, recently on the shelves of Trader Joe's.