Barolo is a traditional hillside village in the rolling hills of Piedmont, north-western Italy. The vineyards and cantine (wineries) there have long been famous for producing some of Italys very finest red wines – predominantly from the regions signature grape variety, Nebbiolo. Fragrant, tannic Barolo wine is so revered that it was one of just three wines awarded DOCG status on the day that the classification was introduced in July 1980 (the other two were Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano).
The Barolo vineyard zone covers the parishes of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d Alba and Barolo itself, and also spreads over into parts of Monforte d Alba, Novello, La Morra, Verduno, Grinzane Cavour, Diano d Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. The soils and mesoclimates vary slightly between these communes, creating subtle differences between the wines produced from their vineyards (although it must be remembered that the skills and preferences of the individual winemakers also has significant influence over these differences).
The Piedmont wine region rests at the foot of the Alps in Northwestern Italy. There the village of Barolo resides along with the Barolo vineyard zone. This small sub-region has a variety of mesoclimates and rich soil that lends itself perfectly to the robust red Barolo wines that have gained favor among the world’s top wine connoisseurs.
While there are distinct differences between Barolo wines from the various parts of the region, they all retain characteristic Barolo qualities.
Ruby red coloration
Aroma of ‘tar and roses’
High alcohol content
Elevated acidity levels
Traditionally Barolo wines have had to undergo long aging processes of at least 38 months to soften the tannins. However, today winemakers are beginning to use new methods, which yield a fruitier wine in less time.
Nebbiolo has come to be the signature grape of Barolo wines. The best Barolo wines must be 100% Nebbiolo, the slightest deviation can render them un-Barolo in the eyes of experts. Nebbiolo is a black-skinned grape, which gives Barolo wines their noticeable tannins, acidity and the ‘tar and roses’ aroma.
But Nebbiolo grapes are solely used for Barolo wine production. They are also known for being at the center of the more perfumed Barbaresco style of wine.