arguably one of the top 5 wine growing districts of the world is the region in piemonte known as barolo, centered around the town of the same name and famous for their nebbiolo grapes.
the zone of production extends into the communes of barolo, castiglione falletto, serralunga d’alba and parts of the communes of cherasco, diano d’alba, grinzane cavour, la aorra, monforte d’alba, novello, roddi, verduno, all in the province of cuneo, south-west of alba. although production codes have always stipulated that vineyards must be located on hillsides, the most recent revision of the production code released in 2010 goes further, categorically excluding valley floors, humid and flat areas, areas without sufficient sunlight, and areas with full-on northern exposures.
barolo is often described as having the aromas of tarand roses, and the wines are noted for their ability to age and usually take on a rust red tinge as they mature. barolo needs to be aged for at least thirty-eight months after the harvest before release, of which at least eighteen months must be in wood. when subjected to aging of at least five years before release, the wine can be labeled a riserva.
thomas invited sal and i along to one of his visits to the producers, we came to the home of ferdinando principiano to taste his barolo’s as well as some of his other wines. his wife, belen was the one to look after us as ferdinando had decided this was the day he had to harvest the grapes for his dosset or dolcetto wine as the sugar in the grapes had reached the specific level for harvest. their home is in the beautiful village of monforte d’alba and their plots spread around the barolo zone.
we sampled a sparkling wine, an extra brut rose made from 100% barbera grapes. a lovely dry, crisp, mineral wine with a nice acidity.
we followed that with a rivera di monfort, a classic barolo, leathery nose, lots of tannin very dry and a big long enduring mouthfeel and aftertaste. we thought it was magnificent and grabbed a box of them!
the next wine was their premium barolo, the boscareto, a classical barolo, very elegant and completely balanced – i actually didnt enjoy it as much as the rivera.
we finished up with a dessert wine, a muscato that was less sweet than i expected, big, round, lucious, rich and fruity with raisins and prunes. most winemakers in the region harvest the grapes and then dry them on racks with hay in the attics to get the intensity and dessert wine style from the grapes, ferdinando leaves the grapes on the vines, but cuts the stem of the bunch from the vine in august and then leaves the grapes in the sun and breeze to develop through to octomer when he harvests them. the wine then has 3 years in oak before bottling. we also took a box of this wine!