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Drinkipedia
Barolo
One of the best red wines of Piedmont and, therefore, of Italy is Barolo. Often reminiscent of Barbarescos, only with bigger body and flavor -- and even slower to age. (Wine/Appellations)
Barolo
Barolo, often referred to as the king of Italian reds, is produced in limited quantities from the fickle Nebbiolo grape. The grape itself takes its name form the fog (nebbia) which frequently envelops this hilly terrain just south of the Alps. This is indicative of an area which is blessed, (and also cursed), with a marginal climate in which conditions only occasionally lend themselves to producing what is thought of as "classic" Barolo.

In this way, it shares more in common with Burgundy than perpetually sunny California or Australia. In a great vintage the full potential of the Nebbiolo is realized and the resultant wines are among the most concentrated, aromatic, and ageworthy reds on Earth. With better winemaking technology however, more difficult vintages are increasingly capable of producing solid wines, with the added bonus that most are drinkable upon release.

Piedmont is one of the world’s great viticultural districts and the region around the lovely city of Alba, the Langhe, or Barolo and Barbaresco zones, is where Piemontese wines reach their apex. For those unfamiliar with the region it is easiest to draw parallels with Burgundy.

Like Burgundy’s Pinot Noir, Barolo and Barbaresco is the product of a single, fickle, difficult grape—Nebbiolo. The climate is generally just as difficult, with only two or three truly great vintages a decade being typical (Piedmont’s current run of luck is unheard of). Though not as rigidly defined as Burgundy’s system of village and vineyard classification, Barolo and Barbaresco also have a system—being further refined—that seeks to identify outstanding vineyards and define regional typicity within sub-zones.

The region’s fantastic wealth of favorable hillsides (in this, the Langhe is certainly more blessed than Burgundy) provides a wide range of micro-climates that support a number of different varietals. Because of this, in the middle of the Barolo zone, a producer may have a single vineyard with Nebbiolo planted at the top of a south-facing hill, Barbera at the bottom, and earlier-ripening Dolcetto on the east or west flanks.

Like Burgundy, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of growers that cultivate small plots. Coveted vineyards such as Cannubi or Brunate may be divided between several producers, and growers may further sell grapes from these vineyards to still more producers. This makes it possible to have many different bottlings from the same vineyard—an exercise, just as in Burgundy, that quickly shows the variability of winemaking skill in the Langhe.

Piedmont is most famous in the world of gastronomy for two things—great Nebbiolo and the legendary tartuffi bianco. (Wine/Appellations)