October 12, 2015
Wine of the Week: Barolo
Guess what? Truffle season is right around the corner! And when you talk about white truffles, you have to mention red Barolo. Today is all about “the King of Wines and Wine of the Kings”, one of Italy’s greatest wines… Our Wine of the Week is the spectacular Barolo.
What is Barolo?
Barolo doesn’t need any introduction, really – but we still wanted to give a brief overview of the famous Italian wine. It’s not called “Wine of the Kings” for no reason. Believe it or not, Barolo was already prominently sipped on in the Middle Age, where it was a favorite of the French king Louis XIV.
Barolo was born in the Northwest corner of Italy, in the region of Piedmont (known as Piemonte in Italy), where it shares the spotlight with another great red, Barbaresco. Made exclusively from Nebbiolo grapes, traditional Barolo is aged for several years in big Slovenian casks.
Note that I am highlighting the “traditional” Barolo here, as opposed to the modern methods. This distinction was the result of what we dramatically call the “Barolo Wars”: modernist methods were introduced by young producers, who decided to cut fermentation times and age the wines in small French oak barrels, producing a wine with silkier tannins and more fruit. Traditionalists, on the other hand, believe that these contemporary, less commercially challenging wines lacked much of what made Barolo distinctive. Today, a compromise is progressively being made, with less oak flavors on the modernists’ part, while the traditionalists produce wines that can soften in less than 10 years.
Barolo is considered one of the most complex and elegant wines in Italy – massive, tannic, rich, bold, dense and full-bodied, they release a fragrant bouquet of aromas and flavors often described as licorice, tar, truffles, leather, violets and roses.
How to pick your Barolo?
A few tips on how to read your label to pick the perfect Barolo: Riserva Barolos are aged for a minimum of 5 years. Vigna indicates a single vineyard wine. If you’re looking for a true bold Barolo experience, think old – look for Barolo of 10+ years.
How to pair your Barolo?
Barolos tend to be deeply concentrated wines – which makes the search for their perfect match even more difficult. Hearty stews, roasted red meats, rich risottos and wild games are all great companions. And, obviously, the Barolo-truffle combination: truffle dishes like fonduta and tajarin, and beef or veal dishes with truffles all pair beautifully.
2001 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis Barolo
2004 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Barolo Riserva – if you’re looking to splurge.
2008 Vietti Castiglione Barolo (a Coravin favorite!)
2009 Massolino Barolo
2010 Poderi Oddero Barolo
2010 Paolo Scavino Bric del Fiasc Barolo