It has been a little while since we took a look at Barolo, which still stands as one of the greatest Italian red wines to ever be produced. The history of this wine is extensive and contains many interesting titbits that those who are new to the world of wine, or enthusiasts who have not explored Barolo in great depth, may not be aware of.
So what makes Barolo so interesting? Let’s find out.
Barolo is an interesting mix of complexity and clarity, as it offers a deep experience that still underscores its pure power with the taste that enthusiasts need to really enjoy their wines. This combines to make it an excellent wine for the winter.
The stunning structure that the best Barolos tend to have makes it an ideal wine to enjoy with Christmas dinner. It takes great skill to tame the notoriously temperamental Nebbiolo grape, but those that do create wines that can complement many dishes. What we’re saying is that there are few feelings quite like the pure satisfaction from having a belly full of great food and stunning Barolo as you wind down Christmas day.
It Was Perfected in the 1800s
Barolo has a reputation for being one of the oldest wines in the world and the Nebbiolo vines have been cultivated and used to create the drink for hundreds of years. However, it was not until the 1800s that Barolo became the wine that we know it to be today. Much of the credit for this lies with the Count of Cavour, who may be better-known to you as the person behind the Italian Unification.
He brought in Luis Oudart, who was one of the most famous oenologists of the period, and introduced the Frenchman to the Marchioness of Barolo. She gave him the credit and access he needed to work his magic on the wines produced in the region and it was under his guidance that the Barolo that we know and love today first started to take form.
It Has Deeper Historical Significance
Despite this, the Barolo name has deeper historical significance and is closely associated with many of the great men to emerge from the Langhe region. Bartolo Mascarelli, Elio Altare and Renato Ratti are all names that should be synonymous with Barolo, as they played enormous parts in the wine achieving and continuing to cultivate the stellar reputation that it has enjoyed over the centuries.
Without them, Barolo may not have the identity that it is so intrinsically linked with today. Their disputes always focused on bringing the best out of the wine, whether they focused on traditional or innovative methods. In doing so they ensured it maintained its reputation as one of the best wines in Italy. Perhaps the most recent example of such disputes paying off by improving the wine as a whole is the Barolo Wars, but these men had similar conflicts during their eras that also had massive parts to play in the evolution of Barolo.
Variety Is Key
The Barolo region is one of the most far-reaching in the Italian wine industry. It actually includes more than 180 distinct geographic producers, all of whom are capable of placing their own spins on the wine and offering something to consumers that the others may not be able to provide.
This makes Barolo one of the more versatile and varied wines on the market today. For consumers, this means there is the chance to enjoy the interesting tastes and changes in complexion that can only come about in a wine that is produced under some many different conditions. Different micro-climates and changes in soil complexion all play a part, which means a Barolo from one producer will always have distinct differences from that of another.
This versatility is also a key reason as to why Barolo has enjoyed so much success over the years. It is an ideal dinner wine, especially for meals that are heavy on rich foods, like red meats. The amazing variety to be found in the wine practically ensures that at least one producer has made a version of Barolo that will complement your dinner plans.
The Wine Of Kings
Perhaps the most impressive distinction that Barolo holds over most other Italian red wines is how it has impressed royalty over the years. In particular, Barolo was an enormous favourite of King Albert of Savoy, who is reputed to have purchased the Verduno Castle solely because it housed General Staglieno, who has a reputation for creating some of the best Barolos of the era.
It takes a special kind of wine to be so good that it influences the decisions of royalty, and this interest in Barolo as the wine of kings extended into the 1800s when King Vittorio Emanuele II also took interest in the wine through the purchase of the Fontanafredda estate. This means that Barolo has practically carried a royal seal of approval over the centuries and it is still often called the wine of kings in some circles.
A Cold Therapy
We touched earlier on how Barolo is one of the best wines for the winter months, as it goes well with many of the rich foods that people eat during this period of the year and is capable of warming drinkers up thanks to its rich complexion.
However, it may be interesting to you to learn that Barolo has actually historically been used to combat that most common of winter afflictions – the cold. Best of all, there is some evidence to show that it actually works too.
In the late 1800s a chemist by the name of Giuseppe Cappellano began producing his own version of the wine, which he named Barolo Chinato. The wine was used as a remedy for both colds and poor digestion. Interestingly, it is also still available and is now commonly consumed as a dessert wine, though you may want to give it a thought the next time a cold starts ruining your enjoyment of the winter.