Barolo can be found just south-west of Alba in the Piedmont region north-western Italy. Barolo gained its DOCG classification in 1980 and is considered one of the finest wines produced in Italy. While modern Barlo wines are decidedly tannic and and unquestionably dry, this wasnt always the case. Until the 1800s, due to substantial quantities of residual sugar Barlo wines tended to be quite sweet.
Barolo wines are produced using the Nebbiolo grape, with some 3000 acres being grown within the DOCG zone consisting of the communes Barolo, Roddi, Cherasco, Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour, Serralunga d'Alba , Monforte d'Alba, Novello, La MorraFalletto, and Castiglione which all lie within the province of Cuneo.
The growing of the Nebbiolo grape in Barolo, which is the grape used to produce Barolo wines, dates back to Roman times.
With theNebbiolo grape only ripening in late October, and temperatures in the Piedmont region dipping by November and December, the wines produced in Barolo pre 1850 tended to be sweet due to the cold halting the fermentation process, which left a significant amount of residual sugar in the wine. Around this time French enologist Louis Oudart was invited to the Barlo region to help improve the wine making methods in the area. He helped improve hygiene in the cellars, and suggested the use of specific yeast types, which in turn lead to wine makers being able to “ferment the must totally dry”. These new techniques helped to produce the first modern dry Barolo wines known and loved throughout the world today.
Barolo was granted DOC status in 1966 and then gained DOCG classification status in 1980.
The Barolo “growing zone” is only a narrow one, being only about 5 miles across at its widest point. Although there are more areas included in the DOCG, about 90% of Barolo wine is produced within the 5 communes of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, La Morra, Monforte d'Alba and Serralunga d'Alba.
Even though the Barolo zone is quite small differing altitudes and soil types help produce quite different wines within the area. With a limestone and sand soil the wines produced in the Serralunga Valley tend to have more tannins, higher alcohol, and are generally a little “bigger” Whereas wines produced from the grapes grown in Barolo, and La Morra, due to the soil containing manganese, and being more clayey, tend to have less tannins, and a more “perfumed” aroma.
Barolo wines tend to be deep red in color with thick complex flavor's. Depending on the area they are grown in Barolo wines can be fruit driven with hints of oak and licorice, while others can be flowery with hints of roses or violets. These great wines cellar well for 5 to 10 years and pair well with rich, hearty meals such as pot roast or a rich beef stew.