Barolo’s trusty sidekick.

Produttori del Barbaresco 2012 ($40)

A few times a year Quebec’s liquor board oversees an auction of fine wine predominantly from France and Italy, a rarity in Canada and a chance to get some aged wine without paying import duties. This year a strange phenomenon was happening—bottles of barbaresco were selling for more than lots of barolo for similar years/producers—upending the traditional set-up where barolo is the Batman of Piedmont (or all of Italy, if we’re being honest) and barbaresco is the Robin, the loyal sidekick content to be a perennial silver medalist.The two wines share a grape (nebbiolo), a region (Piedmont, in the northwest of Italy) and both age well. But whereas classical barolos are known as among the most dense and tannic wines in their youth, barbaresco typically went for a slightly more approachable, softer expression and that partly explains the wine’s current ascendency. The other half is just the human condition of being different—barolo, with its oversized reputation, is the logical choice, while barbaresco still something of an upstart. All that aside, it’s a truly beautiful wine that deserves some attention for its amazing tasting notes typified in this well-priced bottle ($40) from the collective Produttori del Barbaresco: leather, tar and cherries in an intoxicating combo. It tastes like nothing else—except maybe barolo.wine_fade_big