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Barolo

Barolo is a traditional hillside village in the rolling hills of Piemonte, northwestern Italy. The vineyards and cantine (wineries) there have long been famous for producing some of Italy's very finest red wines – predominantly from the region's signature grape variety, Nebbiolo. Fragrant, tannic Barolo wine is so revered that it was one of just three wines awarded DOCG status on the day that the classification was introduced in July 1980 (the other two were Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano).

The Barolo vineyard zone covers the parishes of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and Barolo itself, and also spreads over into parts of Monforte d'Alba, Novello, La Morra, Verduno, Grinzane Cavour, Diano d'Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. The soils and mesoclimates vary slightly between these communes, creating subtle differences between the wines produced from their vineyards (although it must be remembered that the skills and preferences of the individual winemakers also has significant influence over these differences).

In La Morra and Barolo the soil contains a high concentration of limestone-rich Tortonian marl. The more aromatic, fruitier styles of Barolo typically come from these soil types; La Morra is considered to produce the most perfumed and graceful Barolos, while those from Barolo tend to be a little more complex, and broader textured.

In Castiglione-Falleto, Serralunga d'Alba and Monforte, the vineyards are planted on looser and less fertile, Helvetian soils, which include both sandstone and limestone. This leads to a brick-coloured wine which is more intense, bigger in structure and requires a longer time to age. Serralunga d’Alba is well structured, long lived and the most tannic of the five, while Castiglione-Falleto is renowned for its full-bodied, rich nature and good balance and aromas. Monforte D'Alba offers rich, concentrated characteristics and a serious intensity.

Despite the differences between the wines from these various terroirs, they all retain the key qualities which define the classic Barolo style; the famous "tar and roses" aroma, a bright ruby colour (which fades to garnet over time), firm tannins, elevated acidity, and relatively high alcohol.

To earn the name Barolo, the wines must undergo at least 38 months' ageing prior to commercial release, of which 18 must be spent in barrel (the remainder in bottle). For the added designation of riserva, the total ageing time increases to 62 months. As the tannins soften over time, the complexity shows through with hints of earth, truffles and dark chocolate.

Classic Barolos have traditionally required at least ten years cellaring to tame their tannins. Today, however, some producers are moving towards more "international" styles, with reduced fermentation times (meaning less extraction of colour or tannin from the must), and the use of new French barriques in place of the traditional large wooden casks. This has resulted in a fruitier and more accessible style which is approachable at a much earlier stage in its life. Many believe this modernisation detracts too severely from the classic character of Barolo. Some go so far as to say it makes the wines unrecognisable as Barolo. The ongoing debate between Barolo's modernists and traditionalist has become known as the "Barolo wars".

There are various Barolo vineyards which have achieved a sort of informal "cru" status, based on the official, structured model used in Burgundy. Esteemed winemaker Renato Ratti played a significant role in this, and created a map outlining the various crus: Cannubi, Sarmazza, Brunate, Cerequio, Rocche, Monprivato, Villero, Lazzarito, Vigna Rionda, Bussia, Ginestra and Santo Stefano di Perno.

To the northeast of Barolo, just the other side of Alba, are the vineyards which produce another stellar Nebbiolo wine, Barbaresco.
  • Ciabot Berton Barolo 2010
    £33.85

    Ciabot Berton Barolo 2010

    Ciabot Berton

    Ciabot Berton Barolo 2010 is dark, aromatic and meaty on the nose, the palate is fresh and lively with the all of the tell-tale notes of roses and ...

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    £33.85
  • Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio Barolo Villero 2009
    £66.00

    Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio Barolo Villero 2009

    Giuseppe Mascarello

    Maria Mascarello suggests that you don’t leave this Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio Barolo Villero in a decanter for too long so as not to miss its be...

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    £66.00
  • Ciabot Berton Barolo Rocchettevino 2009
    £36.75

    Ciabot Berton Barolo Rocchettevino 2012

    Ciabot Berton

    Ciabot Berton Barolo Rocchettevino 2012 has a perfect blend of fruit and spice on the nose; ripe, open and full of cherry and rose aromas. The pala...

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    £36.75
  • Ciabot Berton Barolo Roggeri 2009
    £38.50

    Ciabot Berton Barolo Roggeri 2013

    Ciabot Berton

    Ciabot Berton Barolo Roggeri 2013 is an attractive ruby garnet in colour, its modern style is apparent from the oaky element to the rich, dark frui...

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    £38.50
  • Ciabot Berton Barolo 2007
    £36.75

    Ciabot Berton Barolo 2007

    Ciabot Berton

    Ciabot Berton Barolo 2007 has an ethereal nose that ticks all of the boxes of an archetypal Barolo: scents of tar, roses and spices are all present...

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    £36.75
  • Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio Barolo Santo Stefano Di Perno 2009
    £66.00

    Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio Barolo Santo Stefano Di Perno 2009

    Giuseppe Mascarello

    The Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio Barolo Santo Stefano Di Perno has a nose of sweet cherry and strawberry fruit, with floral and characteristic bals...

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    £66.00
  • Barolo DOCG – Castiglione Falletto - Anna Maria Abbona 2015
    £44.95

    Barolo DOCG – Castiglione Falletto - Anna Maria Abbona 2015

    Anna Maria Abbona

    Although the area of Dogliani has no Barolo vineyards, just a cock-stride away is Monforte d'Alba, one of the finest Barolo villages together with ...

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    £44.95
  • Langhe Riesling "l'Alman" - Anna Maria Abbona
    £18.85

    Langhe Riesling "l'Alman" - Anna Maria Abbona

    Anna Maria Abbona

    This Rhine Riesling (l'Alman in the local dialect) is a stylish offering and is packed with all the glorious Riesling fruit that brings the palate ...

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    £18.85