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.
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.
Important Cru’s in Barolo:
Albarella, Bergeisa, Boschetti, Bricco delle Viole, Bricco San Giovanni, Brunate, Cannubi, Cannubi Boschis, Cannubi Muscatel, Cannubi San Lorenzo, Cannubi Valletta, Castellero, Cerequio, Coste di Rose, Coste di Vergne, Crosia Druca’, Fossati, La Volta, Le Coste, Liste, Monrobiolo di Bussia, Paiagallo, Preda, Ravera, Rivassi, Rue’, San Lorenzo, San Pietro, San Ponzio, Sarmassa, Terlo, Vignane, Zoccolaio, Zonchetta, Zuncai.
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.
Important Cru’s in Castiglione Falletto:
Altenasso, Garblet Sue’, Garbelletto Superiore, Bricco Boschis, Bricco Rocche, Bricco Vigna Mirasole, Brunella, Codana, Fiasco, Mariondino, Monriondino or Rocche Moriondino, Monprivato, Montanello, Parussi, Pernanno, Pianta’, Pira, Pugnane, Rocche di Castiglione, Scarrone, Solanotto, Valentino, Vignolo, Villero.
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.
Important Cru’s in La Morra:
Annunziata, Arborina, Ascheri, Berri, Bettolotti, Boiolo, Brandini, Bricco Chiesa, Bricco Cogni, Bricco Luciani, Bricco Manescotto, Bricco Manzoni, Bricco Rocca, Bricco San Biagio, Brunate, Capalot, Case Nere, Castagni, Cerequio, Ciocchini, Conca, Fossati, Galina, Gattera, Giachini, La Serra, Rive, Rocche dell’Annunziata, Rocchettevino, Roere di Santa Maria, Roggeri, Roncaglie, San Giacomo, Santa Maria, Sant’Anna, Serra dei Turchi, Serradenari, Silio, Torriglione.
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).
Important Cru’s in Monforte d’Alba:
Bricco San Pietro, Bussi,a Castelletto, Ginestra, Gramolere, Le Coste di Monforte, Mosconi, Perno, Ravera di Monforte, Rocche di Castiglione, San Giovanni
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.
Important Cru’s in Serralunga d’Alba:
Arione, Badarina, Baudana, Boscareto, Brea, Bricco Voghera, Briccolina, Broglio, Cappallotto, Carpegna, Cerrati, Cerretta, Collaretto, Colombaro, Costabella, Damiano, Falletto, Fontanafredda, Francia, Gabutti, Gianetto, Lazzarito, Le Turne, Lirano, Manocino, Marenca, Margheria, Meriame, Ornato, Parafada, Prabon, Prapo’, Rivette, San Bernardo, San Rocco, Serra, Teodoro, Vignarionda
Located on the northern edge of the denomination and accounting for just 5% of Barolo’s total production, Verduno turns out full-bodied reds loaded with finesse and abounding with enticing floral and spice sensations. Although the string of hot, dry vintages that have become the norm since 2000 have challenged growers and winemakers throughout the region—and in all of Italy for that matter—Verduno has actually thrived, turning out structured wines with a vibrancy and energy that many Barolos from other villages lack in scorching years, like 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Verduno bottlings are generally approachable sooner than other Barolos, but they still age gracefully for decades in the best vintages, like 2006, 2008 and 2010.
According to growers and researchers, the secret behind Verduno’s trademark spiciness lies in the soil—a complex mix of calcareous clay, silt and sandstone interspersed with chalky veins. It’s worth noting that the rare native grape Pelaverga, which yields a bright, fruity red wine loaded with white pepper sensations, is grown almost exclusively in Verduno, where it excels.
Vineyard location is also a key factor in Verduno’s stunning Barolos, and the township boasts some of the best crus or vineyard areas in the denomination, including Massara, Pisapola and the magnificent Monvigliero. Of all the village’s wide-open and luminous vineyards, the Monvigliero hill is undoubtedly Verduno’s grand cru. According to Prof. Vincenzo Gerbi, who teaches enology at the University of Turin, Monvigliero is one of the top sites in all of Barolo, saying, “Monvigliero is the only cru in the denomination that faces completely south.” Even though many Barolo vineyards with predominantly southern exposures now suffer from scorching summer temperatures and drought thanks to climate change, Monvigliero’s best parcels, lying between 919 and 984 feet above sea level, benefit from cool evening breezes generated by the Tanaro River directly below that keeps the grapes fresh. This unique microclimate gives Monvigliero Barolos their signature aromatic intensity and complexity.
Verduno also played a key role in the early history of Barolo production: King Carlo Alberto of the Royal House of Savoy, the father of the first future King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, bought Castello di Verduno in 1838 and with the help of pioneering enologist General Paolo Francesco Staglieno, began making Barolo. In the mid-1800s, a young entrepreneur, Comm. Giovan Battista Burlotto, founded his winery in the village, and in 1909 bought Castello di Verduno from the House of Savoy. Various branches of the family still make Barolo today.
For decades Verduno’s estates have flown under the radar, known only to the most passionate Barolophiles. One reason for this is due to its small output that makes Verduno Barolos harder to find, while another reason is that until recently, most growers sold their grapes to large bottling houses. But as wine lovers now look for wines boasting complexity and finesse as opposed to concentration and muscle, Verduno Barolos are in high demand, encouraging more growers to bottle their own wines.
Important Cru’s in Verduno:
Monvigliero, Massara, San Lorenzo di Verduno, Pisapola