company logo



Issue 124 - August, 1999

Barolo is one of the world's most stern, tannic, full-flavored wines, offering aromas of road tar, leather, bing cherries, tobacco, and dried herbs. Massive and intensely fragrant, it can easily last for 20-30 years. Barolo is made from the Nebbiolo grape grown on the steep hillside vineyards situated south and southwest of Alba, the area's largest town. There are just under 3,100 acres of vineyards producing Barolo, the majority of which are in an around the five hilltop villages of La Morra, Serralunga d'Alba, Monforte d'Alba, Barolo, and Castiglione Falletto.

Barolo Villages

Barolo: This old, sleepy village located south of La Morra gave its name to this appellation. Locals claim that the wine from the hillsides surrounding Barolo possess the suppleness and finesse of La Morra, as well as the muscle of Monforte d'Alba and Serralunga. The word "classic" is often used to describe the wines that emerge from Barolo. Its vineyard area ranks fourth in importance among the five most significant wine making communes. The most important Barolo vineyards include Bricco delle Viole, Brunate (this vineyard is shared with La Morra), Cannubi (often considered the most historic and among the finest of the Barolo vineyards), Cannubi Boschis, Castellero, Cerequio (also shared with La Morra), Costa di Rose, Sarmassa, and La Villa. There are approximately 375 acres of vines.

Castiglione Falletto: This is the smallest of the five principal Barolo communes in terms of both acreage and growers. It is a picture postcard hilltop village situated between Barolo and Serralunga d'Alba. The wines are prized for their muscular, bold, full-bodied, powerful style. The most highly regarded vineyards are Bricco Boschis, Fiasc, Monprivato, Montanello, Rocche, and Villero. There are approximately 255 acres of vines.

Monforte d'Alba: The hilltop town of Monforte d'Alba is the third largest vineyard area in Barolo, consisting of 486 acres. Virtually all of the vineyards are planted on steep hillsides. Many Piedmont producers claim the longest-lived, most backward, tannic, and closed wines emerge from Monforte d'Alba. Visitors to the region should visit this village to take advantage of one of the most extraordinary viticultural panoramas in the world. The finest Monforte d'Alba vineyards include Bussia (there is a bevy of subvineyards within Bussia, such as Bricotto, Cicala, Colonella, Dardi, Gran Bussia, and Soprana) and Ginestra (another vineyard noted for its numerous subplots, such as Casa Mate, Ciabot, La Coste, Mentin, Pernot, Pian della Poldere, Sori Ginestra, and Vigne del Gris).

Serralunga d'Alba: With just under 500 acres, this is the second largest zone in the Barolo area. More limestone is found in this village's hillside vineyards than elsewhere, and for that reason the wines are often the most mineral-dominated Barolos. It is hard to pinpoint the style of Serralunga d'Alba, but these wines seem to combine the power, full-bodied richness, and ageability of the finest wines of Monforte d'Alba and Barolo with some of the more expressionistic, seductive characteristics found in La Morra. The top Serralunga d'Alba vineyards include Arione, Brea, Ceretta, La Delizia, Falletto, Francia, Gabutti, Lazzarito, Ornato, Parafada, Rionda, and Sperss.

La Morra: La Morra, another picture-postcard hilltop village is deemed to produce the most supple, seductive, and Pomerol-like Barolos. Readers should keep in mind that individual wine-making styles can frequently transcend the historic generalities attributed to a particular area. La Morra's Barolos are, however, the most velvety-textured and easiest to drink when young. This may be the most exciting region within Barolo. With 955 acres, it is unquestionably the largest sub-region. Some of the most exciting, newer-styled Barolos are emerging from La Morra's vineyards. The most highly regarded vineyards include Arborina, Brunate, Cerequio, Fossati, Giachini, Marcenasco, Monfalletto, Rocche, Rocchette, La Serra, and Tettimorra.

Barbaresco is also made from the Nebbiolo grape, but is generally better balanced and a bit lighter than Barolo, with less tannin and more fruit. In great vintages, the wines possess intense jammy fruit, cedar, chocolate, and a touch of tar. Barbaresco's vineyards are located northeast of Alba. Barbaresco emerges largely from the hillside vineyards surrounding the village of Barbaresco, with a significantly smaller vineyard area of 1,195 acres. Other important villages in the production of Barbaresco include Neive, Treiso, and Alba. Barbaresco has a shorter life span than Barolo, but the finest examples from great vintages can evolve for 20-30 years.

Barbaresco Villages

Barbaresco: The greatest and best-known vineyards around Barbaresco are Montefico, Montestefano, Secondine (known throughout the world under the Gaja bottling of Sori San Lorenzo), Rabaja, Martinenga (with the subplots of Gaiun and Camp Gros), and Asili. At the southern end of the village of Barbaresco, the finest vineyards are Rio Sordo, Sori Tilden, and Costa Russi (which are actually subplots of a vineyard called Roncaglie).

Neive: In and around the village of Neive (made famous by the great Bruno Giacosa) are the San Stefano, Serra Boella, Gallina, Starderi, and Versu Gallina vineyards.

Treiso: The smallest sub-section of Barbaresco is found in and around the village of Treiso. Some of the finest vineyards are Marcarini, Pajore, Ausario, and Vanotu.

—Robert Parker   




© 2011. All Rights Reserved. Developed by ICM Solution (UK) Limited.