I love Barolo and have more of it in my cellar than anything else. Why?

Barolo is undoubtedly the king of Italian wine and once you get a taste for it you’re hooked. The flavours of Nebbiolo are unique, when planted on the ancient soils of the Langhe hills the become spell-binding. Floral, earthy and spicy and eventually with maturity come the intoxicating aromas of truffle.

. It has the acidity and perfume of Pinot Noir, the guts of Cabernet and a savoury Italian rasp which makes very versatile food wines. However, the main reason I buy Barolo is because I can buy authentic growers’ wines of exceptional quality from legendary vineyards for the price of village Burgundy. Thanks to a string of excellent vintages culminating in the critically acclaimed 2010s, attention has been drawn to Piedmont. This coupled to the scarcity and increased demand/prices of Burgundy have drawn investors to Piedmont and driven several journalists to ask whether Piedmont is the new Burgundy? There are many similarities; one noble grape variety, lots of small, quality driven domains. The vineyards are classified according to aspect, soil type and altitude with each major village/commune having distinct characteristics.

Within the 1,700 hectare Barolo area there are 11 communes, the best of which are :-

La Morra

La Morra – Lying to the west of Alba, the soils here resemble those of Barbaresco, as do the wines which are known for their elegance. Below the town sit its best vineyards, Cru such as Rocche, Brunate and Case Nere are some of the finest in Barolo. The most famous estate here is Roberto Voerzio, one of the leaders of the ,now largely irrelevant, modernista movement he is renowned for a severe green harvest, making very concentrated and expensive wines. This is a beautiful hill-top town with perhaps the most panoramic views in the whole region. There are lots of good restaurants and wine bars, a great place to stay.

Barolo – South of La Morra in the centre of the region, dominated by a large castle and a honeypot for tourists. Viticulturally it is all about the flagship Cannubi vineyard which has been the centre of a recent controversy. The best parts of this large Cru produce sell-binding wines of great perfume, on my last trip there Chiara Boschis of Pira told me of her ambition to convert the whole of Cannubi to organic farming.

Castigilione Falleto – Combining the best of Serralunga and Barolo it produces stylish, concentrated, long lived wines and is home to the legendary monopoles Monprivato and Bricco Boschis.

Serralunga d’Alba – The most easterly of the communes and home to the most tannic and backward wines. The famed, blue clay giving power and complexity. Vigna Rionda is perhaps the best expression, there is huge potential here with several up and coming growers.

Monforte d’Alba – The most southerly tip of the zone houses Monforte; home to several iconic producers including Aldo Conterno and Elio Grasso. The vineyards around Bussia and the Ginestra bowl are hot and dry with more limestone. These are captivating wines of precision and great depth, I rather rudely think of them as the Pauillac of Barolo.

Barolo is far from easy to categorise with an intricate patchwork of soils and complex topography. There are huge overlaps between different communes and vineyards, a genuinely fascinating region which is a joy to visit


Published on 08/10/2015 / By Nick Dagley