Barolo is one of the most controversial wines to come out of Italy. And yet, it’s one of the best wines!
A wine so fine that it attracted the attention of King Carlo Alberto di Savoia becoming what, from then, was known as the king of wines. Barolo has had a somewhat chequered past. It started as a sweet light red wine and later morphed into the deep dry red wine we know today. Barolo is truly a special wine. Even those who do not enjoy dry wines are often won over after a few sips!
What Is Barolo Wine?
Barolo is a dry red wine made from the Nebbiolo variety of grapes. The Nebbiolo grape is a relatively thick-skinned red grape with a waxy exterior coating, this allows the Nebbiolo grape to grow in a variety of different conditions, but it favours certain soil and conditions for optimal wine making.
Barolo wine has seen a lot of controversy in the winemaking world with different methods of fermentation and production leading to separation between traditional winemakers and those who opted for more modern methods. This disagreement is one of the more interesting ones in recent wine making and is often referred to as the Barolo wars.
Where Does Barolo Wine Come From?
The Nebbiolo grape, while hardy in its growing, needs specific conditions to create a great wine. The grape has been grown outside the ideal region, but the wine yield was sub par. There is only one region in the world that is certified to produce Barolo DOCG. The area, Langhe, is a region in the northwestern portion of Piedmont, Italy.
Langhe is divided up into 11 main wine producing communes, the leading among which are Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, and Monforte d’Alba. The Langhe region has the ideal climate and a fair amount of limestone, which is perfect for the growing of Nebbiolo grapes and the production of Barolo.
How Is Barolo Wine Made?
For Barolo to achieve its DOCG status (the highest recognized status for wine in Italy) there are a few specific requirements the winemaker needs to meet. The wine needs to be made out of 100% Nebbiolo grapes, however, this should be the case for all Barolo, not just Barolo DOCG. After this, the wine needs to be aged for at least 38 months, with 18 of those months being in wooden barrels.
For the actual production, we again turn to the Barolo wars. There is a rift between winemakers when it comes to the most efficient and best method of production. The main difference between the methods was the maceration period and the ageing period.
Suffice to say, the newer innovations could bring aged Barolo to market much quicker than traditional methods could. Today you will still find a mixture of traditional method wine and modern method wine, both methods are able to create a fantastic result.
What Does Barolo Wine Taste Like?
Barolo wine is a full-bodied wine with powerful tannins and high acidity. This strong wine has flavours of chocolate, mint, cherry, cinnamon, white pepper, dried fruit, roses, tar and some notes of eucalyptus and liquorice. To get the most out of a glass, ensure that it is properly aged. Barolo wine is an excellent cellar wine and continues to get better with age.
Is Barolo Wine Sweet Or Dry?
The very first Barolo wines were often sweet, with a light and fruity pallet. As production progressed and new methods of fermentation were introduced, it was found that the Nebbiolo grape was much better suited to create a dry wine. Today, you will only find Barolo as a deep and dry red wine.
How To Drink Barolo Wine
Barolo red wine is a full-bodied wine with an extensive nose, it is recommended to open the bottle to breathe for a few minutes before enjoying it.
When serving Barolo, choose wider, more open glasses as it will allow a much better appreciation of the aroma. Being full-bodied and deep it tends to be better served at slightly cooler temperatures than other red wines. 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit is usually the ideal range.
What Food Does Barolo Wine Pair With
Barolo is full-bodied, high in tannins and high in acidity, making it favour more rich foods. Very rich cuts of meat like rib-eye steak or prime rib will be ideal for a heavy meal. For something lighter, it’s perfect for aged and cured meats, along with rich cheeses like Castelmagno, Fontina, Parmesan and Gorgonzola.
Why Is Barolo So Expensive?
Barolo wine is sought after and demands a high price, as it is heavily in demand and has some factors limiting production. The increase in global consumption highlighted by recent wine industry statistics has done little to help this trend.
The grapes for Barolo wine are only grown in the Piedmont region of Italy, after which the wine needs to be aged for a long period of time. This lack of quantity and high production time leads to not enough supply to meet the ever-increasing demand. For this reason, Barolo will likely stay expensive for the foreseeable future.
What Can I Use Instead Of Barolo Wine?
Barolo wine commands a hefty price tag and, as such, is probably not always the best for a weekly occasion wine. For an everyday alternative, a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec make for a fantastic wine. If you wish to stay within the Barolo family, Nebbiolo wines also offer a very robust yet similar flavour profile.
What Is Special About Barolo Wine?
Barolo is known as the king’s wine for good reasons. With ageing the colour fades into lighter shades, giving the impression of a lighter fruity wine, yet it retains the powerful nature with some of the most complex and elegant flavour profiles of any dry red wine.
Barolo also produces some of the cleanest and most structured flavours of any wine. There is no guessing at the favours you taste, a wine beginner would be able to pinpoint the flavours. One of the most special aspects of a Barolo is how it ages. There are very few other wines that age as well as this one!
Born amidst the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley, Chloe’s love for wine was instilled from a young age. This passion led her to the picturesque wine regions of France, where she immersed herself in the rich wine culture and traditions.
Chloe’s dedication to the craft culminated in her becoming a wine sommelier, a testament to her deep knowledge and appreciation for wines.
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