In our previous article about the Piedmont wine region of Italy, we discussed a few of the world-famous wines that are made there, one of them being the Barolo. Because there are so many wonderful grapes and wines from that region, we didn’t have much time to discuss the true joy that is the Barolo, but we are going to now!
Barolo is a red wine from the Piedmont region in the northwestern part of Italy and is one of the three original DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata) wines, which basically means any Barolo wine is controlled and guaranteed to be from Piedmont, Italy. It’s so controlled that there are actually stipulations within the production codes determining what part of the geographical area the vines are allowed to be grown on and how much sunlight they can get.
This big, beautiful red wine is revered with the likes of Bordeaux and Burgundy, and for good reason. It’s made from the Nebbiolo grape (the crown jewel of Piedmont), a red grape full of delicious tannins and a high level of acidity. They typically present fragrant aromas like roses, dried herbs, and even tar which round out a very full-bodied flavor.
Barolo wines have been an important part of Italian wine history for thousands of years, and in the most recent few decades, have been the subject of many an argument. In the 1980s, producers fought what we now call “The Barolo Wars.” Modern producers of Barolo began arguing with traditionalists over the production methods, claiming that they were outdated and needed to be revitalized. The original method required a much longer amount of time, particularly in the maceration stage which was anywhere from 15 to 30 days, plus the many years aged in neutral oak barrels. New producers wanted to use technology to speed that up to just 10 short days, and age in smaller French barrels which would reduce the entire production process dramatically. Eventually, there was a compromise made and traditionalists now own more modern technology to assist with their old-school ways while still holding true to the methods that they say create “a true Barolo.”
The Barolo is not a cheap wine and for very good reason. Many years go into the production process and because of the DOCG regulations, they are under extreme watch and care at all times. It’s considered a bottle for the elite drinker and is meant to be enjoyed to its fullest potential.
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