March 28, 2017
KING OF WINES. WINE OF KINGS.
In Italy, Barolo is revered as the King of Wines... and the Wine of Kings. Its association with nobility dates back to the 19th century, when it was a favourite among the reigning dynasty.
The Barolo Region and the town of Barolo are located in the Langhe hills of Piemonte in northwest Italy. Its namesake wines rank amongst Italy’s most important.
Many modern-day Barolo wines can indeed cost a King’s ransom; particularly those gems that are treasured by international collectors. Fortunately, there are also many accessibly priced Barolo wines that pledge allegiance to the region’s strict laws governing production (see below*).
Nebbiolo is the noble grape behind every bottle of Barolo. Yet, as with most ‘old world” wines, Barolo is named after the town and region, not the variety. “Nebbia” is the Italian word for fog, which aptly describes the heavenly mists that fill the region’s valleys and roll across the hillsides in the summer and autumn months.
Nebbiolo is high in tannin due to its elevated seed content. It is a delicate grape that requires attention in the vineyard and a decent length of maturation and aging to soften up, round out and mature before release. In most vintages the summer is long and sunny. This creates the ultimate ripeness, which translates into a deep, full fruit concentration and higher alcohol content. Barolo wines show tremendous balance of fresh acidity, intense character and full tannin.
Best of all, Barolo is destined for a long and fruitful reign in the cellar. It is a wine that demands patience and willpower, as it is best enjoyed at 10-15 years old. This makes Barolo a perfect choice for a distant anniversary, wedding or milestone birthday.
Some noteworthy producers to consider include: Marchesi di Barolo, Gomba, Damilano, Vietti and Paolo Conterno.
Understanding the Barolo Experience
Drinking the new release vintage of Barolo is sacrilege. This is a wine style that is designed for a long, quiet life with a glorious exit. In the glass it resembles Pinot Noir, lacking fervor. But never judge a book by its cover. A mere sip will reveal one of the most dynamic, kinetic and powerful wine experiences to be had. Barolo is bold and exuberant in its personality – confident in its King’s armor of pure, deep cherry, plum and licorice – crowned by distinctive notes of roses, tar and truffle.
This wine is not intended to be consumed on its own. To experience the true divinity that is Barolo, it should be graced with a meal worthy of its pedigree.
The axiom “If it Grows Together, It Goes Together” has never been more true. This region of Italy abounds with local culinary treasures. Truffle shaved over simple pasta such as tagliatelle, drizzled with a butter sauce will make this wine shine. Simple yet flavourful dishes such as braised beef, lamb, rabbit or boar are a magnificent choice. If you are seeking a Queen to reign alongside the King of Wines, you cannot do better than aged Alberta beef.
*The Mark of Sovereignty
By law Barolo wine must meet the following requirements:
• Be made with 100% Nebbiolo grapes.
• The vineyard altitude must be between 170 and 540 metres.
• It must be aged 38 months before being released, spending at least 18 months maturing in oak barrels and one year in the bottle. Barolo Riserva must be aged five years before release with at least 18 months in oak barrels.
• Be approved by a tasting panel before receiving its official designation as a Barolo DOCG wine.