Barolo wine is known as the “King of Wines and the Wine of Kings.” It is the delicious expression of the Nebbiolo grape grown in the northern Italian wine region of Piedmont. Learn more about the noble grapes and wines of Italy that many consider to be some of the finest red wines in the world.
The Barolo Wine Region
Barolo is one of the most renowned Italian wine regions in the world. Because the Nebbiolo grape is thin-skinned, it easily takes on the properties of the region’s terroir.
There are multiple subregions within Barolo, each with a distinctive terroir that gives a unique definition and flavor profile to the Barolo wine they produce:
- La Morra. The largest subregion in Barolo, La Morra, contains sandy soil which lends a velvety elegance to the wine. The wine is so critical to the tiny municipality’s livelihood that it is illegal in La Morra to cut down a Nebbiolo vine. Those who do so face penalties that range from fines to hand amputation to hanging.
- Barolo. The soil in Barolo is sandy and contains limestone, which produces wine that is intense with strong tannins, bold color, and full body. Old Barolo wine is used to make a digestif called Barolo Chinato. The bark from the cinchona tree is steeped in the wine, and then the wine is flavored with ingredients such as cinnamon, coriander, vanilla, and mint.
- Castiglione Falletto. Because of its terrain, grapes grown on the slopes of Castiglione receive maximum exposure to the sun, which enhances ripening conditions and produces wine with intense concentration.
- Monforte d’Alba. There is more clay than limestone in the soil, resulting in a rich, bold wine with the highest concentration levels in the Barolo region. The wine produced here has a heady perfume of roses, cloves, camphor, and cardamom.
- Serralunga d'Alba. The soil here is high in limestone, which puts more stress on the grape vines. This, in turn, produces wine that is full bodied with the highest tannin levels in the region. These wines display their best characteristics after aging for at least a decade.
What Makes Nebbiolo Wine Special?
Nebbiolo is derived from the Italian word for fog—nebbia. It’s believed that the grapes were named Nebbiolo because most of the vineyards where they are grown are located above where the fog collects in the valley. Nebbiolo is a very old grape that dates back as far as the 13th century.
Barolo wine is produced using only Nebbiolo grapes. The wines are bold, acidic, and highly tannic (think mouth drying) with rich tasting notes of tar, rose, berries, cocoa, anise, licorice, and truffle. Barolo wine is aged for three years before it is released, and 18 months of that time is spent in oak barrels. This adds to the rich complexity of the wine.
Barolo Food Pairings
Because of its high acidity and tannin levels, Barolo wine pairs with flavorful foods like Osso Buco, veal chops, and venison stew. It’s also a great accompaniment to truffles, mushrooms, and strong cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino. And finally, you can confidently serve Barolo with almost any traditional Italian dish that contains garlic and tomato.
Notable Barolo Wines
Of course, no review of Barolo wine would be complete without us sharing our notable Barolo wine favorites. In no particular order, those include:
- Ceretto Barolo. Velvety and elegant, Ceretto Barolo has a rich texture with flavor notes of plum, cherry, truffles, oak, and vanilla. Pair this wine with beef, lamb, or venison for an exquisite culinary triumph.
- G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole. Enjoy the flavor notes of cherry, raspberry, leather, and smoke in a bottle of Barolo Bricco delle Viole. This is a fruit-driven wine with just the right amount of tannins.
- E. Pira e Figli Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi. An aromatic wine with essences of spice, ripe fruit, mint, and eucalyptus. This Barolo features flavors of plums and ripe strawberries with undertones of crushed stone.
- Paolo Scavino Cannubi Barolo. Sipping Paolo Scavino Cannubi Barolo, you’ll notice flavors of berry and ripe plum with just a whisper of licorice. Wonderfully textured with dense tannins and a sweet fruit finish.
- Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco. Made from grapes grown in the Castiglione d’Alba region, Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco offers tasting notes of wild cherry, dried blueberry, smoke, licorice, and crushed limestone.
- Ratti Marcenasco Barolo. This vintage hails from the La Morra region of Barolo. Ratti Marcenasco Barolo contains essences of roses and spices. Experience the notes of red fruit along with flavors of chocolate and oak.