‘The king of wines, and the wine of kings’, Barolo is produced exclusively from Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont region in Northern Italy – not far from there used to be the royal House of Savoy. Undoubtedly one of Italy’s most prestigious and best-known wines worldwide, Barolo’s unique and inimitable characteristics have certainly earned it a place in the wine Olympus. In 1980, it was one of the three first regions to be given DOCG recognition, along with Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino, due to its outstanding quality.
Where is Barolo produced? The region in which Barolo is produced centres around the municipality carrying the same name, including some surrounding territories such as La Morra, Monforte, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Novello, Grinzane Cavour, Verduno, Diano d’Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. Great names of the Italian wine culture are based here, like Domenico Clerico, Gaja, Oddero, Voerzio, Bruno Giacosa, and the legendary Prunotto, established by Alfredo Prunotto a century ago. This winery’s mission is to ensure that its Barolo captures the fullest expression of the terroir and each vintage, as manifested by the fruit of its carefully grown vines.
How is Barolo produced? The pressed Nebbiolo grapes are generally macerated together with their skins for several weeks. Following the fermentation stage, Barolo wines must then be refined for at least three years prior to being released onto the market, two of which must be spent in oak. This period rises to five years in total for the Riserva version, of which two in oak. Luckily for us, the recently available 2016 vintage has been deemed one of the best ever, with previous great vintages in 2010, 2008, 2004, 2001, 1999, and 1997. For a special dinner or important birthday, you certainly won’t be disappointed. In fact, many would argue Barolo just keeps getting better with age, with five to ten years’ ageing being a realistic and accessible time frame, whilst Barolo wines of 15 to 20 years and more being deemed perfect examples of the true potential. Surprisingly, Barolo vintages are documented as far back as 1868.
What is Barolo’s tasting profile? Although Barolo wines will vary in intensity and style depending on a great many factors, they tend to be recognisable for their aromas of rose, tar and underbrush, with flavours including berries, tobacco and spices. Colour-wise, it is lighter than you might expect from such a powerful wine, taking on more orangey hues with age, whilst its impressive tannin level lends excellent structure.
What food to pair with Barolo wines? Hearty, rustic flavours work well with a Barolo, as do sharp, full-flavoured cheese and red meat. This is because the tannins in the wine bind to the proteins in the food, softening and rounding out the flavour. Perhaps a traditional hare-meat ragú, smoked duck breast or braised shin of beef could interest you?
Take your pick from our selection of the best Barolo wines, brought to you from some of the most important and historic producers of the region.