Lorenzo Fantini once wrote in 1879: If Nebbiolo is the prince among grape varieties, then Barolo is the king of wines. This honorable title has stuck to the great wine made from the Nebbiolo grape in the small growing region southwest of the truffle town of Alba in Piedmont.
From Italy, or more precisely from Piedmont, comes one of the most important wines in the world. Barolo is one of the great varietal wines of the world. Since time immemorial, the Nebbiolo grape has been cultivated in Piedmont. But it was not until the mid-19th century that noble families from the House of Savoy realized that the best Nebbiolo grape grew in the region now designated as the Barolo area. However, it takes far more than just the right type of grape to produce a truly royal red wine. Care and skill are required, as well as a large portion of luck and - above all - patience. Barolo is a wine that uniquely reflects its vintage and needs a lot of time, its hard tannins make it inaccessible when young, time must mellow it and grind its edges without further ado it can be stored for 20 or 30 years.
"The Barolo DOCG in Piedmont offers an incredible density of absolute top wines in a very small area. Certainly not only one of the most important wine regions of Italy but of the whole world."
With patience, the noble DOCG red wine from Nebbiolo (Nebbia Italian for fog) transforms with age from the typical garnet red to delicate brick red, a wine with fine tannins and an imposing aromatic complexity with a powerful body structure. But its connoisseurs also need patience, the red wine from Piedmont is a difficult wine, not easily accessible and easy to love. People who drink it for the first time often perceive it as rough, thin, bitter and slightly acidic. However, it should also be mentioned that many "beginners" often drink this wine much too young. In 1980, Barolo received DOCG status, the highest quality designation in Italy. This marked the beginning of a breathtaking triumphal procession in Italy, Europe and the whole world. In the following decades, the wine from the Langhe region of Piedmont collected countless medals and awards all over the world; in just 20 years, production increased tenfold and prices rose to dizzying heights in some cases. Wine critics such as Antonio Galloni, James Suckling and Robert Parker showered him with top scores. Many winemakers from Italy became world famous through him: Elio Altare, Elio Grasso, Giacomo Conterno, Aldo Conterno and even Barbaresco king Angelo Gaja produced the red wine from Nebbiolo. Barolo became a classic, a cult wine. And classics always find their fan base, regardless of price. Current attempts to make Barolo more accessible, even in its youth, with modern cellar technology are exciting. With mash heating, shorter mash times and barrique aging, attempts are being made to shorten the storage time. The sense of such measures is hotly debated in the Piedmont region and throughout Italy. The last chapter of its history has certainly not yet been written.
At Vergani we offer two different Barolo DOCG producers. The first is Elio Altare from the La Morra area. His Barolo DOCG are rounder and earlier accessible because he ages them in barrique. On the other hand Massolino. His vines grow in the commune of Serralunga d'Alba, which is famous for its excellent and highly mineral soils. His wines are aged in room-sized 10,000 liter barrels. These wines are more for Barolo fans who want to enjoy the Nebbiolo grape in its purest essence. In any case, both producers belong to the top league of wine producers in Piedmont, both with their basic Baroli, as well as with their site Baroli.
Image: Lucia Gherra