Rich and deep and made for ageing, Barolo is Italy’s most famous wine – and the one that brings producers up and down the country the most prestige…
When people talk about Italy making truly world-class wines, when they start talking about Italy being on a par with France as a wine-making nation – and we mean in terms of quality, not quantity – it is never long before the name Barolo is brought up.
The Barolo appellation was formalised in 1966 at some 1,700 hectares in the commune of Barolo, an otherwise unremarkable town in the Langhe, a gently hilly area in the province of Cuneo, to the south of Turin, about half way to the sea, just east of Fossano.
The wine is made from 100 per cent Nebbiolo grapes, a variety which is thought to have gained its name from the mist (nebbiolina) that shrouds the hills of the Langhe in autumn. The climate here is as much continental as Mediterranean, and as soon as summer is over it can get noticeably cold at night, and misty in the morning, and so the grapes on those vines ripen very slowly. The fall in temperatures at this time of year also means that the grapes don’t produce a great deal of sugar, and so the tannins take a long time to break down.
Like the grapes they’re made from then, Barolo wines take a while to mature, but when they are ready – which may be a good decade from the harvest – they can be among the very best in the world.