The Barolo Wine Region is located in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. This wine region includes several communities with the commune of Barolo being the most important one. The region is famous for producing the Barolo wine which is considered to be the greatest of all Italian wines.
Located amidst the hills of Langhe, the Barolo Wine Region is higher in altitude than its surrounding areas and, as a result, has a cooler climate. The soil is rich in lime which aids in the growth of the Nebbiolo grape. The famous Barolo wine is made from this Nebbiolo grape. Vineyards have existed in the Barolo region from the time of the Roman Empire and the Nebbiolo has been harvested here from at least the 13th century. The famed version of the Barolo wine however only came into existence in the middle of the 19th century.
At that time, Giulietta Vitturnia Colbert di Maulevrier, the Marchessa of Barolo, was looking for a way to improve the local wine. She invited the famous French oenologist, Louis Oudart, to produce a better version. Oudart made the production process more hygienic, introduced the use of yeast and transformed the local wine into the world famous dry Barolo.
One of the striking characteristics of the famed Barolo is the high levels of tannins in the wine. The Nebbiolo grapes have to be harvested in October and at that time the temperatures of the region start falling. This drop in temperature adversely affects the fermentation process, making the Barolo a sweet, red wine rich in tannins.
Due to the high amounts of tannin, the wine needs to be aged, typically for 10 years for it to soften and become palatable. Barolo wines need to be aged even after bottling for best results. By the early 1970s, local winemakers started experimenting with production methods that would allow the Barolo to be consumed without a long wait. The maceration and fermentation period was drastically reduced and the result was a Barolo that had less tannin in it and that could be consumed without years of aging. This version of the Barolo also had a fruity taste which appealed to modern palates.
This new method of production was met with opposition by those winemakers who believed in the traditional way of making the Barolo wine. Such was the animosity between these two groups that their conflict was named The Barolo Wars.In recent years, the animosity has been greatly reduced thanks to advances in agriculture. The Nebbiolo grapes produced in the region are now riper at the time of harvesting. A riper grape has less tannin in its skin and the resulting Barolo needs less time to age before it can be consumed.
The vividly red Barolo wine is best enjoyed with rich dishes such as pasta in cream sauces and heavy risottos. It also goes well with meat dishes as the tannins in the wine soften by attaching to the proteins.
Today, the Barolo wine region is just as famous as it was in the past for producing its eponymous wine. Despite changes in its production methods, the Barolo wine has steadfastly held onto its reputation as the greatest of all Italian wines.