What Is Barolo?
Barolo is a rich and luscious wine that is known as the “king of wines and wine of kings”. It is known as one of the world’s greatest reds, and is often compared to the great pinot noirs of Burgundy.
Barolo is produced in the rolling hills of the Piedmont region of north-western Italy, at the foot of the Alps. It is produced using 100% Nebbiolo grapes, which is indigenous to the Piedmont region. Nebbiolo is a thick-skinned grape that produces amazing tannins. Nebbiolo only thrives in a few places in the world, as it needs specific weather conditions and soils.
Barolo comes from the northwest part of Piedmont known as Langhe, which is one of Italy’s best known wine regions. The area is warm and temperate, with long summers and autumns perfect for producing top quality grapes. The local climate prolongs the ripening of the Nebbiolo grape, which helps to give Barolo its amazing tannins. The Langhe region has been producing wine for over 2,500 years, and enjoys UNESCO world heritage status. In the 19 th century, Italian king Carlo Alberto di Savoia enjoyed Barolo so much that he bought the estates of Verduno and Roddi for wine production.
There are 11 communes in Langhe that produce Barolo. The 5 most well-known communes are Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, and Monforte d’Alba. There are two areas in Langhe, the Serralunga Valley which encompasses the eastern communes of Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba, and Serralunga d’Alba, and the Central Valley, which covers Barolo and La Morra.
The greatest difference between these two Barolo areas is the soil; while the Serralunga Valley has older soils high in sand, the latter is higher in clay. The sandy soils of the Serralunga Valley produce more intense wines that require a longer ageing process than the Central Valley, which produce softer, fruitier expressions. The different terroirs produces major variations, even before differences in winemaking is taken into account.
In the cellar, winemakers crush and ferment the Nebbiolo grapes with the traditional method of submerged cap fermentation, which uses the natural fungus that lives on the skin of the grape as the fermentation yeast. After the fermentation finishes, the wine undergoes a long maceration period of 3-4 weeks. It is this long maceration process that draws out the tannins into the wine, and helps to define the flavour of Barolo.
The wine is then aged in oak or chestnut barrels to evolve the harsh tannins and develop colour.
The premier classification is labelled as Barolo DOCG. This label is a guarantee of quality. Barolo DOCG is aged for at least 38 months before release – first in barrels and then in the bottle. Barolo Riserva is aged for at least 5 years. Barolo is especially enjoyable after 10-15 years and some vintages can be aged for up to 30-50 years.
Why We Love Barolo
Piedmont Barolos are structured and elegant. These wines are rich and robust, with strong acidity, high tannins and complex aromas. Barolos are often compared to the great pinot noirs of Burgundy, due to their light pigments and bright acidity. The recognisable transparent ruby colour turns more orange as the wine ages.
Another unique feature is the bouquet – rose, red berries, cherry, spices, truffles, tar, coffee, chocolate and dried herbs are common aromas associated with Barolo wines. The earthy palate is deeply reflective of the terroir. Even a few kilometres apart, the different soils produce different expressions of Barolo. La Morra is known for elegant wines; Monforte d’Alba is renowned for precise and silky wines; and Castiglione Falletto is famous for the powerful tannins.
Despite being known as a prestige wine, Barolo is versatile enough to be a midweek wine. We love that it can be easily paired with food. It works well with protein heavy BBQs in summer and hearty beef or veal stews in winter. The concentrated floral and tar flavours also goes well with dried meats, truffles and hard cheeses.
Be A Barolo Lover
We have searched far and wide to bring you the best Barolo producers, so that you can enjoy a bottle for a special occasion, or a midweek glass.
Despite being known as the king of Italian wines, Barolo is surprisingly affordable compared to Burgundy or Bordeaux of similar quality.
As lovers of Barolo wines, we support family producers who uphold generations of tradition and guard against the internationalisation of winemaking practices. These small-scale producers see their jobs as to respect the grapes and preserve the characteristics that are given by nature, by the terroir of the vineyard.
Our suppliers are Australia’s best, hands on importers who specialise in high quality wines of place. We’re thrilled that you’re joining us on the journey so get your hands on some fantastic Barolo and enjoy!