Discover Barolo: wine of kings and king of wines
The history of Barolo (and the Langhe) began 2500 years ago with the Ligurian Stazielli population; among the first admirers of this nectar there were the Gauls, whose conquest of the territories beyond the Alps was also motivated by their predilection for the wine produced here.
Even the Romans did not hold back, so impressed by the quality of the wine in the Alba area (then Alba Pompeia) that Julius Caesar, returning from the Gallic War, wanted to bring a good quantity of it to Rome.
To get the first mention of the Nebbiolo grape, however, we must wait for the Middle Ages: in 1268, in some historical documents drawn up and kept in the castle of Rivoli, the “Nibiol” was mentioned.
Langhe wine began to have notoriety when in 1751 a group of Piedmontese diplomats sent a batch of “Barol” to London: it was a great success, so much so that even the future President of the United States Thomas Jefferson, traveling in those years in Europe, cited its goodness in his diaries, describing it as “almost as sweet as Bordeaux and lively as Champagne”. Here is an image of the taste of Barolo of those years: a sweet and sparkling wine, since it was not yet known how to transform all the sugars contained in the must into alcohol.
When and thanks to whom is the modern Barolo born then?
The birth dates back to the 1930s and the credit is due to the Marquises Falletti, the French enologist Louis Oudart and the Count of Cavour.
Carlo Tancredi Falletti married, with the consent of Napoleon, Juliette Colbert de Maulevrier, great-granddaughter of the famous finance minister of Louis XIV of France.
The Falletti family was a family of bankers who acquired important landholdings in the Municipality of Alba since 1250. Upon Carlo’s death in 1838, Juliette acquired all the properties of the Falletti family. He called in his lands the great French enologist Louis Oudart who applied the techniques used for the great French wines on the wine produced in the possessions of the marquise.
Thus it was that one of the first important pages in the history of modern Barolo was written, which became so popular that even King Carlo Alberto of Savoy was intrigued. Juliette sent him 325 carts, each containing a barrel of Barolo: one for each day of the year so that the king could taste a different wine every day. Thus it was that at the court of Turin Barolo was defined as “wine of kings, king of wines”.
Another protagonist was Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour. Of French culture, he had traveled extensively beyond the Alps. When he became mayor of Grinzane in his twenties, he called Louis Oudart to take care of the wine on the family properties in the area. Thus was born the modern style of Barolo which, for the first time in 1844, was bottled as a dry and still wine.
Barolo became so famous that the need arose to protect it from counterfeiting: the brand began to be protected. With the arrival of the Great War the effects of phylloxera did not take long to be felt, but Barolo did not die; indeed, in 1909 the Agricultural Consortium defined the production boundaries of this great wine. It was the start of a business. Between the two wars there was a boom in plants, even if the politics of the time aimed more to invest in the quantity of production rather than in quality.
In 1927 the “Decree on typical wines” was published in the Official Gazette, which officially defined (but with much criticism from the excluded) the Barolo area. In the same year, the geological zones of the Barolo production areas were also defined: the zone of Tortonian origin with Sant’Agata marl (which produces fragrant, fruity and elegant wines that ripen earlier) where La Morra, Verduno and a strip of Castiglione Falletto, and the area of Helvetian origin (gray sandstones and layers of sand: the wine is more structured and alcoholic, suitable for long aging), where Castiglione Falletto, part of Monforte, Grinzane and part of Barolo rest.
During the Second World War and after the war there was a migration from the countryside to the industries of the city; little Barolo was sold. The rebirth will take place when Renato Ratti will sign his French wine: 13/14 days of fermentation, two years in wood and one in bottle. The contemporary Barolo was born.
Reached the apogee of its perfection, it develops a wide nose, with hints, among others, of black fruits, rose petals, violets, coffee, tar, licorice, tobacco and cocoa and gives in the mouth a very long sensation of power and softness at the same time, so pleasant as to make this wine unforgettable.
Finally, how to serve Barolo?
The ideal temperature is 18-20 degrees. The more traditional combinations, on the other hand, are those with savory dishes based on red meat, such as roasts, braised meats, stews, game, but also aged hard cheeses and flavored foods, for example based on truffles. Not everyone knows, however, that in addition to being drunk on its own as a meditation wine, Barolo is also excellent with dry desserts: in particular with typical Piedmontese biscuits such as Paste di Meliga.
– Alla prossima, With love!