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The history of Barolo: the Queen of Italian wines promoted by a Marchesa 🍷

Many Italian wines have an interesting past, they are part of legends and mysteries, all intertwined with the history of Italy. Among these wines, one stands out: Barolo, a wine from Piedmont exported and known all over the world.

There is very little certain historical information about Barolo. Most of its history is based on legends and tales handed down orally from one generation to another.

The modern Barolo was born from the determination of one woman: the Marchesa Juliette Victurine Colbert, French wife of the Marchese Carlo Tancredi Falletti di Barolo. The Marchesa wanted to bring French enological knowledge to Italy in the 19th Century. In particular, she was determined to produce a wine, comparable to French wines, to be presented to the Savoy court. She asked for the support of French winemakers and, after numerous trials, the result was greeted with approval by the King of Sardinia, Charles Albert, and his court. Barolo was born!

Marchesa Juliette Victurine Colbert
Marchese Carlo Tancredi Falletti di Barolo,

Before Barolo, Italian wine, drunk by rich and poor people since Roman times, was a very sweet wine with a rosé colour. The innovation introduced by the Marchesa transformed it into a new dry wine with an intense red colour and predisposed for long ageing. For the first time, the grapes were pressed before starting the fermentation, so that all subsequent stages of the winemaking process could be controlled. Today we take this process for granted, but at that time dry wine was not known. This innovation changed the flavour and suitable food combinations, transforming wine culture forever.

The importance and merit of this innovation were immediately confirmed. Also Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour – an Italian statesman, leading figure of the Unification movement and Prime Minister of the Kingdom del Piemonte / Sardinia – started to produce Barolo and he made it popular among aristocrats and politicians. In other words: Barolo became the “institutional wine” of unified Italy.

Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour
Barolo celebration of Unification of Italy

It is possible to visit the village of La Morra where the vineyards of the Marchesa’s estate are. It is also possible to see the ancient barrels, still in use today.

When the Marchesa died, part of the vineyard was inherited by the Opera Pia Barolo, an institution born with the sole purpose of protecting this wine and its production methods. The remaining part was inherited by the Abbona family. The Abbonas modernised the distribution and started to sell Barolo in international markets.

Today Barolo is produced in 11 municipalities in the Langhe region, an area recognized as a UNESCO heritage site with varied microclimates and soils that give Barolo its many facets. That’s why on the market there are different levels, different vintages and different prices. However, its history and how good it is, are worth the price!

Barolo is a red wine with a DOC, denomination of controlled origin, since 1966 and DOCG, denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin, since 1980, produced with pure Nebbiolo grapes, one of the best grapes of the world. It is aged for at least three years ( five years for the Riserva), of which 18 months are in French oak barrels. The ideal temperature for drinking Barolo  is between 18-20 degrees C (65-68 degrees F) and it is advisable to open the bottle one or two hours before drinking.

It has intense and complex aromas. In younger vintages fruity and floral aromas of rose, violet, plum and cherry predominate, while in aged wines you find tertiary aromas of leather, spices, cinnamon, pepper and vanilla. In the mouth it is full-bodied and persistent, with a good balance between acidity and tannins, which fade with ageing. Therefore, the aged wine can be drunk also as a ‘meditation wine’ – a rich, complex wine which can be enjoyed by itself without food. It is also perfect paired with red meat dishes, braised or grilled, with game, with very aged cheese and dishes based on truffles.

“ I veri intenditori non bevono vino, degustano segreti” (“True connoisseurs don’t drink wine, they taste secrets” )

S. Dalí.


Considering that we are now in autumn, I would like to suggest a truffle recipe, a perfect match for a good glass of Barolo. Follow these links e BUON APPETITO: https://www.sprinklesandsprouts.com/5-ingredient-black-truffle-pasta/

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