Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Barolo - The wine of Kings

Barolo has often been named the king of wines: noble and generous, it is known around the world for its austerity and the richness of flavors. Produced in the southwest of Alba, area called the "Langa del Barolo", Barolo is a wine with unique characteristics resulting from the complex geological make-up of the area. Many believe that Barolo is the most important Italian wine.

Historically Barolo is important. In the 1700s Barolo had a following in all of Europe and in the early 1800s the production process still used today was defined. It was Giulia Colbert Falletti, the Contessa of Barolo, who pushed the nebbiolo grape and took her wine to the court of the Savoia in Turin. Later, Camillo Benso Count of Cavour brought in the wine maker Oudart from Bordeaux to create a dryer version of the Nebbiolo di Barolo. The resulting wine quickly became the beverage of choice among the courts of Europe. The official museum of Barolo, where you can taste the annual production, is located in Castle Grinzane, home of the Count of Cavour.

The geographical area of Barolo comprises Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba, Monforte d'Alba, Novello, La Morra, Verduno, Grinzane Cavour, Diano d'Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. The geological characteristics of include ocean sediments from 8-12 million years ago. To guarantee the quality of the production no more than 10 tons of fruit per hectare may be produced. The nebbiolo grapes, and the cloned varieties of Lampia, Michet and Rose', ripen late in the season near the end of October. Their form is elongated, pyramidal, with small grapes, spherical and with a thick skin.

Annual production is usually very good however during some years can be inconsistent. The production of Barolo begins with a mash, once the transformation has occurred the wine must then, by law, mature at least 3 years in chestnut or ash barrels.

The resulting wine is marvelous, great with roasts of red meat, stews, wild game, foods with tartufo, and aged cheeses.

Grape: Nebbiolo – clone varieties Michet, Lampia and Rose'

Color: Garnet red with orange highlights in the fingernails (this is the ring where the wine meets the glass. The wine “clings” to the side and raises slightly from the surface)

Bouquet: intense, exceptionally complex. When young, clear notes of rose and violet. As the wine ages, scents of cherry and cooked prunes followed by sensations of tartufo and dried mushrooms to finish in spices of pepper, cinnamon and vanilla.

Flavor: Dry taste, full bodied, harmony among a wide range of flavors, slightly velvety, good strong structure with complexity; in the mouth a hint of blackberry, liquorish and vanilla, tobacco and coffee. The tannins, which dry the palette, are prevalent in young wines while diminishing as the wine ages.

Alcohol Content: 13 %

Serving Temperature: 18-20 c.

Reserve: Must be aged at least 5 years

Notes: Each barrel must be tasted by an official of the "Consorzio del Barolo" before it can carry the name Barolo.

Decanting: No need to decant a young Barolo, less than 5 years, at least 15 minutes before serving on aged Barolo.

Pouring: Italian wines and specifically Barolo do no use micro filtration. Pour carefully to avoid clouding the wine. In the aged Barolo the madre (residual sugars and larger pieces of the grape) will form so when pouring never turn the bottle over instead tilt slightly past horizontal and leave a finger of wine in the bottle.

Glass: use a clear wide bellied, deep, stemmed glass. This will allow the wine to continue to breath and will release its perfume as you move the glass toward your mouth. This will increase your perception of the complex flavors.

There are many producers of Barolo. The temperature of the cellar, the time in barrels, and the quality of the grapes will change the end result of your Barolo however, since each years production must be verified by the “Consorzio del Barolo” you can choose a Barolo even if you do not know the producer.

Finally, this is a great place to visit. Plan your trip in October or March and visit some of the greatest Italian wineries.


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Blogger BFuniv said...


Having never experianced Barlo I shall have to go looking for some to taste.


1:02 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Charity Shill,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. If you ever get a chance you should consider an Italian Wine vacation in Piemonte.


4:59 AM

Blogger Maethelwine said...

Nice blog. I always enjoy seeing it when it comes up. Isn't Barolo one of the Italian wines that's best after a ver long agine? Like 15 years or more? A few years ago I remember being told by a friend that a certain wine I had wouldn't reach it's peak for another 15 years. I think it was a Barolo.

7:33 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Thanks. Much depends on the producer (quality) of the Barolo. A good Barolo will peak 10-15 years. Your lower end Barolo will peak at about 10 years. Decanting becomes extremely important as the wine ages and will release most residual tannins creating a very smooth and complex experience of flavors.


5:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barolo is amazing, me and my husband always go in The Langhe for wine tasting so we know quite a few good wine producers (Fratelli Revello and Mauro Veglio are someof the best). I think 6-8 years is perfect for Barolo...and the perfect alchool content is 14.5 -15% for Barolo. 13% could be ok for Barbera or Dolcetto...

1:44 AM


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