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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Barolo & Barbaresco: World-Class Reds from the Same Grape

A well made Barolo and Barbaresco are among the greatest red wines in the world.  Both are made from the nebbiolo grape in Italy’s northwest region of Piemonte.  If the nebbiolo is grown near the communes surrounding the town of Barolo, the wine is called Barolo.  If its grown in the perimeters surrounding the village of Barbaresco, the nebbiolo becomes a Barbaresco. 

Barolo, often described as the “King of Italian Wines,” was one of the first wines given a special status in 1980 by the Italian government.  Barolo wines have stringent rules for production, one of which is mandatory aging.  A Barolo must age for a minimum of 3 years prior to being released, 5 years if it’s a Riserva.   Work the numbers and you can see why a Barolo is often a wallet-full-of-Euro’s.

Like Barolo, Barbaresco, the other exceptional wine made from nebbiolo, is also very pricey. Although  Barolo and Barbaresco are located only 10 miles apart, the climate and geography produce some distinct differences.  Tannins in a young Barbaresco are not quite as harsh as a Barolo--because of this the Italian wine laws allow Barbaresco to age one less year than Barolo).  Barbaresco, the more feminine of the two, is generally more approachable to drink at an earlier age but on the flip side it doesn’t age as long as a Barolo. 

Both Barolo and Barbaresco are complex, full bodied wines.  Nebbiolo in these areas results in intriguing aromas and flavors:  ripe strawberries, roses, mint and/or eucalyptus, licorice, tobacco, and occasionally a hint of white truffles.   Favorite producers?  Try Prunotto, Spinetta, and Elio Grasso---we’ll visit all of them on the October 2012 Truffle Tour.

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