Barolo is made from Nebbiolo, one of the world’s greatest grape varieties. The Nebbiolo production zone is the Langhe hills in the province of Cuneo, southeast of the city of Alba. The soil in this area is a combination of clay and limestone.
Barolo is named after a village in the zone and the name Nebbiolo may come from nebbia, the Italian word for fog. During the fall the fog at times is so thick at night that it is best not to drive.
In the past blending grapes from different vineyards was the traditional way to make Barolo. Grapes from different locations give different characteristics to the wine- color from one, complexity from another, concentration and longevity from other sites.
Today producers also make single vineyard Cru Barolo and some of the vineyards have become very famous, for example, Cannubi, Bussia and Brunate.
Barolo must be aged for at least 38 months after the harvest, before it is released. Of this, the wine must spend 18 months in wood barrels. In order to be labeled Riserva, Barolo must be aged for at least 5 years.
Barolo is a very complex wine that can age for many years. Because it can have a lot of tannin when it is young, it should not be drunk until it is at least 10 years old. Barolo has aromas and flavors of tar, leather, tea, red fruit, licorice, chocolate, and sometimes white truffles.
It has good acidity so it goes well with food; in fact it is a wine that should only be drunk with food. It goes particularly well with beef, game birds, and risotto or pasta with porcini mushrooms.