Although Nebbiolo does not appear anywhere on the label, this wine clearly offers up a huge dose of it. Like the Lange Nebbiolos from Bergadano and Vietti, Bastardo apparently comes from excess grapes from Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards blended with a "secret ingredient," according to the label. I'm not sure what this secret ingredient is (Sangiovese? Cabernet?), but the Nebbiolo traits are front and center--cherries, roses, cinnamon and spice. Red fruits dominate the nose but there are darker notes, maybe some licorice, on the palate. As with any Nebbiolo, there is a rare combination of dry, chewy tannins and racy acidity. At 10 years of age, this wine shows no signs of fading.
Nerello del Bastardo is a Trader Joe's special, purchased several years ago for $5.99. The current vintage is now selling for about $10 and may or may not contain as much high-quality Nebbiolo produce. But this 2002 (like 1999 and 2000 before it) ranks high on my list of good values. If tasted blind against the $25 Vietti and the $12 Bergadano (I haven't tried that yet), I suspect that Bastardo could be my favorite.