Traditionally, Barolo was produced from a mixture of Nebbiolo from different vineyards and from more than one of the 11 villages. Although this approach is still the basis of the name, many producers also make a Barolos name of 170 officially restricted cross or wine-growing areas (technically referred to as geographical references or additional definitions) scattered throughout the villages.
Of the 11 villages, only Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba are fully included in this designation. La Morra and Monforte d’Alba are also important cities. These five municipalities make up the main villages of Barolo. Novelo and Verduno are gaining prestige, while Greenzane Cavour, Diano d’Alba, Cherasco and Roddy, with their low productivity, are less well known villages.
The recently released 2016 vintage produced some of the largest Barolos of all time, thanks to almost perfect conditions for the Nebbiolo volcano.
Unlike 2015, which was an extremely warm and dry year, or 2014, which was extremely cool and wet, the 2016 season offers a classic late and early vintage. These wines are characterized by the typical aromas of red fruit, rose, substrate and Barolo camphor. Most of them are fresh and delicious, with the archetypal aromas of cherries, raspberries, bakery herbs and tobacco. The best combination of structure, balance, slenderness and high aging potential.
Although 2016 was generally an excellent year in the 11 villages of the Confession, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and Verduno were particularly successful. Although the differences between the villages are clearer in the less fortunate vintages, they play a decisive role in the ripening of the Nebbiolo. This is due to the different soils, heights and influences.
Barolo / Shatterstock
The beautiful village of Barolo, with a medieval castle, is the birthplace and eponymous name. It was here that in the 1830s the Marchesi di Barolo, Tancredi and Giulia Falletti concentrated on the production of a brewed red wine from Nebbiolo.
The soils of Barolo, situated on a plateau surrounded by hills covered with vines, consist mainly of gray-blue marl varieties from the Cortan period, known as Sant’Agata Fossili marl. They are an important element of the aroma, elegance and depth of rustic wines.
Barolo wines are very well aged, but generally arrive earlier than the more rigorous Serralunga and Monforte tannins. The latter, made in Serravalle’s time, have sandstone floors that contain more limestone.
The village of Barolo has one of the most famous vineyards of its name – Cannubi. Although the use of this historical name has spread to the surrounding areas over the years, the heart of the legendary Cannubi hill has long been known for the quality of its grapes.
In addition to its southeastern location, the historic site of Cannubi has a unique soil where blue-grey marl blends with sand and sandstone to produce wines with exquisite aromas, great finesse and a long life. Other important vineyards in the city are Brunat, Cannubi Boschis and San Lorenzo.
The village also has some of the largest and most emblematic wineries, including the Cantina Bartolo Muscarello, Giuseppe Rinaldi, Brezza and Marchesi di Barolo.
Sandrone 2016 Le Vigne; $155, 98 points. Fragrant, full and elegant, this delicious Barolo meets all expectations. It begins with seductive scents of wild berries, roses, camphor, botanical herbs and exotic spices, while elegantly structured sky slices of juicy red cherries, crushed raspberries, licorice and cinnamon melt together. Firm and fine tannins and fresh acids keep it in perfect balance. It’s tempting, okay, but it’s even harder to resist. Drink 2024-2046. Vintus Ltd. The choice of basement.
Breze 2016 Cannuby; 67, 96 points. The scents of rose petals, fragrant berries and menthol in the foreground and in the middle of this elegant and fragrant red background. A refined, concentrated, saturated sky, combining grace and structure, with lush red cherries, raspberry compote, white pepper and star anise, as well as pale acids and fine, young tannins. It shines. Drink 2024-2036. Coeur Wine Co. Basement selection.
Castiglione Falletto / Photo : Francesco Bergamaski / Getty
This small village is a dominant 13th century castle. It is located in the heart of the denomination and has unique round towers. One of the three villages fully included in the name Castiglione Falletto is the smallest of Barolo’s main villages.
Thanks to the late Ferdinando Vignolo-Lutati, resident and former professor at the University of Turin, it is also one of the studied Barolo cultivation areas. In 1929 he carried out an extensive soil survey, which is still considered the standard today.
Castiglione Falletto has the most complex soils in its name, consisting mainly of sediments from the Serravalan period. They consist of alternating layers of lime marl, sandstone and layers of sand, interspersed with marl.
In other areas the soil was formed during the Torton period, in sandy sediments known as the Arenario di Diano d’Alba. According to a report on the Barolo region published by the Piedmont Region in 2000, parts of Castiglione Falletto have the largest amount of sand of that name.
Given the complexity of the soil, the Upper Barolos of Castiglione Falletto is one of the most versatile of this designation. They have a scent, a solid structure, elegance and great durability. The village consists of 20 vineyards such as Monprivato, Villero, Rocche di Castiglione, Fiasco and Bricco Boschis, which are among the most famous Barolo vineyards.
The Bricco-Boschis hill, almost entirely owned by the Cavallotto family, combines soils from the two geological eras that separate the long hills.
The Bricco Boschis cruise takes place on the subsoil of Serravalan and Torton, and you see an unusual mixture of white, yellow and grey marl, perforated by layers of sand, explains Alfio Cavallotto, who runs the family business together with his sister Laura and brother Giuseppe, also an oenologist. This blend of soils gives Bricco Boschis wine a very good structure, suitable for long exposure, as well as aroma and elegance.
Brovia 2016 Villero; 106.99 points. Fragrant, structured and loaded with subtlety, this bright red color has seductive scents of pressed rose, wild berries, wet earth and camphor. The air is full, yet slightly elegant. The sculpted sky has depth, concentration and excitement, delivering juicy red cherries, strawberry compote, liquorice and ground mint. Firm and fine tannins and a light acidity ensure a perfect balance and an aging structure. Drink 2026-2046. The wine merchant Rosenthal. The choice of basement.
Cavallotto 2016 Bricco Boschis; $95, 99 points. The scents of wild berries, undergrowth, hazelnut and camphor, as well as the scent of rose petals, form the nose of this enchanting and delicious wine. Full bodied, structured palate still young and primary, but already with raspberry compote, ripe cherry Marasca, star anise, tobacco and a hint of game. A dense knit, noble tannins and fresh acidity form a solid framework and offer a serious aging potential. It’s even harder here. Drink 2026-2056. Skinner Vines, Inc. Basement selection.
Serralunga d’Alba / Photo : Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty
The medieval village of Serralunga d’Alba, or Serralunga for short, is home to some of the most famous and popular Barolos. The grapes from the village have always played an important role in the classic mixed Barolos, because they produce a sometimes impressive highlight of the sun.
The famous bright, almost white soil of Serralunga belongs to the Serravalian period, 13.8 to 11.6 million years ago. This smooth limestone marl consists of many compact layers of limestone, marl and sand marl. Other villages have similar soils, but the vineyards of Serralunga have the highest calcium carbonate content, which is an important factor for wines with an impressive structure.
The most valuable vineyards of the village combine the altitude with the southern foothills, which ensures a long growing season. These conditions give a nominal value to some of the most rigorous, complex and campaign-oriented selections.
Despite the reputation of the muscular Barolos, most manufacturers strive to combine rigid structure and refinement. The growers work harder in the vineyards, carefully picking the greenery, adding grass between the rows and carefully taking care of the foliage to help the grapes reach perfect ripeness and finer tannins. Today, the best range of serralunga is characterized by an enviable fusion of complexity, structure, depth and elegance.
Of all the famous crusades, Vigna Rionda is the only one famous. It was originally famous for its pioneer Bruno Jacosa, who harvested grapes from what is considered to be the best plot of land on a cruise. Sa Colleen Rionda was the first bottle of wine in the subzone.
Today, the heirs of the Canal family, to which Sergio Hermano, the owner/winemaker of Ettore Hermano, belongs, share the same sacred land.
Vigna Rionda faces south and is protected from the cold easterly winds by the Serralunga ridge, so that Vigna Rionda’s grapes reach perfect ripeness every year, explains Hermano, who begins his famous cruise a year later. In addition to the typical limestone soil of Serralunga, there is also a small amount of sand, which gives the fragrance and finesse.
Giovanni Rosso 2016 Esther Channel Rosso Poderi del’Antica Vigna Rionda; $450, 100 points. Fragrant, full and elegant, this delicious Barolo meets all expectations. It begins with seductive scents of wild berries, roses, camphor, botanical herbs and exotic spices, while elegantly structured sky slices of juicy red cherries, crushed raspberries, licorice and cinnamon melt together. Firm and fine tannins and fresh acids keep it in perfect balance. It’s tempting, okay, but it’s even harder to resist. Drink 2024-2046. Vias Import. The choice of basement.
Ettore Germano 2015 Vigna Rionda; 154 dollars, 97 points. The scents of underwater bush, camphor, aromatic tubular tobacco and a scorched earth wind form the nose on this fascinating red background. The young palate is firmly structured and fine, already showing great depth and precision, and delivers raspberry compote, juicy black cherries, liquorice and a nutty tone in contrast to solid, fine tannins and fresh acids. Give it time to develop fully. Drink 2025-2040. Wine merchant in Sussex. The choice of basement.
La Morra / Photo : Asent PKS Media Inc. / Getty
Located above the village of Barolo, La Morra has registered the largest area of Barolo vineyards. It also has the greatest variability in altitude, from 656 to 1640 feet above sea level. From the top of the city you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Long Hills below.
La Morra produces the most graceful Barolo of this denomination, known for its seductive spirits. City grapes are the key to the blends because of their intense floral aromas. Barolones are generally available here sooner than in other regions, but they continue to develop and improve with age and, depending on the harvest, remain at least 15 to 20 years after harvest.
To support their more refined wines, many producers have introduced strict winemaking techniques. These include short, fast fermentation in rotary fermenters to get more color, and new barricades to add structure and complexity.
However, the obvious oak feel of the new barricades can overwhelm the Nebbiolo. Fortunately, as in other villages, most producers here now use less new oak and prefer a combination of barrel size and age to produce a Barolos that combines body, refinement, aroma and depth.
Although the altitude and cool microclimate are decisive, many producers say that the soil is the most important factor in the balance of Barolos La Morra. La Morra consists mainly of the grey-blue marl of Sant’Agata Fossili from the Torton period and has the highest percentage of clay and the lowest percentage of sand, sandstone and limestone of this designation.
A higher clay content means that the soil retains more moisture and can create water reserves that keep the vines cool. This means that La Morra tends to perform better in dry years. In extremely humid vineyards, the grapes can suffer because the soil retains too much water, making it difficult for the Nebbiolo to reach perfect ripeness.
La Morra has 39 demarcated crosses, including holy names such as Annunziata, Brunat, Arborina, Sereccchio, La Serra and Roque del Annunziata. The last, the most historic place of La Morra, is one of the best places of this denomination.
While La Morra is considered the elegant style of Barolo, La Roque del Annunziata is the quintessence of elegance, says Pietro Ratti, owner/winemaker of Renato Ratti. The wine-growing area is located about 985 feet above sea level and faces southwest. Here, in the typical blue marl soil of La Morra, there are also several layers of sand. It gives an incredible elegance and a rich and persistent perfume.
Renato Ratti 2016 Rocke del Annunziata; 125, 97 points. Brilliant, elegant and full of character, this beauty opens with aromas of blackcurrant, menthol, rosehip and exotic spices. Delicious and exquisite slices on the palate, with juicy red cherries, raspberry compote, vanilla and liquorice framed by firm, fine tannins. Its pronounced acidity keeps it at the centre of attention and creates a young tension. Drink 2024-2046. LUX wine. The choice of basement.
Marcarini 2016 La Serra; $96, 95 points. It’s all about elegance, this elegant red colour opens with scents of rose, ground mint, red berries and a hint of new skin. In the mouth, the palate is polished and precise – strawberry compote, cranberries spiced with herbs, star anise and a drop of white pepper. It is well balanced, with fresh acidity and firm, fine tannins. Drink 2024-2036. Empson USA Ltd.
Monforte d’Alba / Photo : Andrea Federici / Getty
Another of the most important Barolo villages, simply called Monforte, produces a wide range of Barolo styles, from fragrant and sophisticated to full-bodied with breathtaking tannins.
Monforte takes its name from the Latin Mon Fortis, a medieval castle that once stood on a high hill in the city, surrounded by ramparts. This large municipality is the largest after La Morra, after the production of Barolo.
The urban soil, which consists mainly of sandstone, clay and lime marl, is often compared to serralunga. However, in some parts of Monfort the same sandstone is found as in Castiglione Falletto, known as the Arenaari di Diano d’Alba.
Monfort has 11 demarcated crosses, one of which is one of the best-known names: Russia. This historic wine region is known for its exceptional Barolos, which are characterized by a great depth of flavor, remarkable structure, finesse and balance.
However, the city has been criticised by local winemakers and wine lovers for not bothering to draw the line for an official crusade. Instead of defending small vineyards, it has merged them into vast expanses of vineyards, even in Russia, which are now huge compared to the original borders.
Other large vineyards are the Ravera di Monforte, the Ginestra and the Graemolier.
Principiano Ferdinando 2016 Ravera di Monforte; $90, 98 points. Menthol, new skin, pressed aromas of roses and wild berries form a beautiful nose on this bright red. Delicious slices of marasca cherries, raspberry compote, truffles and tobacco are captivating and concentrated, while the mint note lingers for a long time. Firm, fine-grained tannins and a light acidity ensure a good balance and a remarkable structure. Drink 2024-2041. Porto Vino Italiano. The choice of basement.
Prunotto 2016 Russia; $70, 95 points. Wild berries, roses, camphor and tobacco contractions form an aromatic nose. Concentrated and elegantly structured, it shows juicy Marasca cherries, orange peels, liquorice and cloves on a background of crispy acids and firm, fine tannins. Drink 2024-2036. Ste. Michelle Vine Estates. The choice of basement.
Novelo / Photo : Andrea Pistolesi / Getty
Novello is located on the border of the town of Barolo and has several good vineyards and one of the most important of the nominal – Ravera. Until the 1990s, some producers supplied grapes here for their mixed Barolos, but the village remained little known.
The late producer Elvio Cogno changed this with his Barolo Ravera from 1991, the first individual bottling in the village.
Our Ravera combines body and refinement, thanks to a light microclimate that causes remarkable temperature fluctuations between day and night, a mainly limestone soil and vines between 50 and 75 years old, explains Walter Fissore, winemaker and co-owner of Elvio Cogno with his wife Nadia Cogno.
Elvio Cogno 2016 Ravera; 112.99 points. From a cellar that has proven the exceptional quality of the Ravera subzone, this convincing wine opens with intoxicating scents of rose, iris, fragrant berries, new skin and camphor. A full, concentrated body, showing exactly the sky, is beautifully and firmly structured, with ripe red cherries, crushed raspberries, liquorice and tobacco, framed by dense, fine tannins. The fresh acidity maintains an excellent balance and creates a youthful tension. Drink 2024-2056. Wilson Daniels Ltd. The choice of basement.
G.D. Vajra 2016 Ravera; $90, 96 points. Concentrated and brilliant, this satiny red color has seductive aromas of red berries, roses, menthol and culinary herbs. Tense, young and sober on the palate, the weave of powerful, fine-grained tannins supports juicy red cherries, strawberries and liquorice, while the fresh acidity maintains the balance. Give him time to relax and get together. Drink 2026-2041. Weinbow. The choice of basement.
Verduno / Photo : Andrea Pistolesi / Getty
The luminous vineyards of Verduno, located above La Morra, mark the northern boundary of the designation. Due to the relatively low production and the fact that most producers until recently sold their grapes to larger producers who did not treat Verduno on the list or label, this village is known only to the most passionate Barolo enthusiasts.
Over the past decade, several renowned producers have joined forces with a handful of historic Verduno pendants to produce a fantastic and sophisticated Barolo with floral and spicy sensations.
Verduno has 12 official crus, including Monvigliero, one of the best sites of this designation. Thanks to its silky, clay-limestone soil and its southern location, the Tanaro river provides a cool evening breeze just below the water surface. Monviglieo Barolos has an aromatic intensity, complexity, finesse and persistence. The other beautiful vineyards of Verduno are Massera, Brerie and Pisapola.
Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on. Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on. G.B. Burlotto 2016 Monvigliero; $100, 99 points. Fragrances of rose, red berries, dark spices, smoke and wild herbs form the nose of this structured red. Intense and loaded with a fine, clear, concentrated taste of ripe red cherries, cranberries, liquorice, tobacco and menthol. Vibrant acidity and mineral veins provide youthful tension, while strong, polished tannins provide seamless support. Drink 2024-2046. Bacchanalian wine import. The choice of basement.
Fratelli Alessandria 2016 Monviglieo; $90, 97 points. The aromas of ripe forest fruits, camphor and fragrant violet flowers combine in this rich red color with the scents of new leather and background. Concentrated and enveloping, the air has an almost weightless subtlety, delivering juicy Morello cherries, cranberry compote and liquorice, while velvety tannins provide infallible support. Drink 2024-2036. North Berkeley Import. The choice of basement.
Greenzane / Photo Tutela Vini Barolo Barbaresco Alba Lange and Dogliani
Greenzane Cavour, Roddy, Cherasco and Diano d’Alba
These four villages have the fewest vineyards dedicated to the production of Barolo. Compared to other villages they have less good and very good forts.
Greenzane Cavour is best known for the castle of the same name that was built in the 19th century. It belonged to the family of Count Camillo Benso de Cavour, the Prime Minister of united Italy. Cavour was at the cradle of the revolutionary agricultural reforms of the country and was a pioneer in the production of Barolo. Today there are eight crosses demarcated in the village, the most historic of which is Castello.
The medieval village of Roddy is located on the northeastern edge of the designation and has only 57 hectares of Barolo vines. Roddy can be compared to a strict 11th century castle. It has long been considered one of Barolo’s forgotten cities. However, the situation changed when the famous producer Enrico Scavino bought a plot of land in the wine-growing region of Bricco Ambrogio. Today it is the only cruise delineated by Roddy, who can sweeten a Barolo with charming floral scents.
Diano d’Alba is in 10th place in terms of volume and has only 35 hectares of Barolo vineyards. The town, best known for the production of Dolcetto, lies between Greenzane Cavour and Serralunga d’Alba and has three geographical references, of which Sorano is the most notable. Most of this cruise takes place in Serralung, where it is known as the highlight.
Only Cherasco tapes are dedicated to the production of Barolo. The town covers less than five hectares and 0.13% of total production and has its own sub-area, Mantoetto, which is owned by a producer.
Paolo Scavino 2016 Bricco Ambrogio; 62,94 points. Fragrant blue flowers, exotic spices, roasted nuts and menthol aromas mix with the flavours of fruitcake. Full body and concentration, fleshy black cherry slices, plums and coconut stiffness in the chocolate, and velvety tannins that envelop themselves before drying, almost dense and salty. Skinner Vines, Inc.
Bruna Grimaldi 2016 Bricco Ambrogio; $80, 92 points. Fragrances of dark ripe berries, eucalyptus and rose lead the nose to this rich, enveloping red colour. On a velvety, concentrated taste, tight tannins surround fleshy black cherries, boiled plums and liquorice with the warmth of the alcohol before the end of compression. Drink 2024-2031. Import of Massanois.
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