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Monday, January 19, 2009

Barolo & its' Regal Wines

Copyright, 2008, Maria Liberati
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm

From the province of Cuneo in Italy's Piedmont region comes what is sometimes called "The wine of kings and the king of wines." Barolo, named after a tiny town in the middle of the growing zone, is a thick, red wine and is one of the most collected wines in Italy.

Rarely can famous wines be traced back to their exact origins because many have been produced for centuries. In the grand scheme of things, Barolo is a fairly new wine.  Though it was present during the Middle Ages and was enjoyed by Louis XIV, its era of greatness dates back to merely the 1800s, when the Marchesa Giulietta Colbert Falletti decided to start making wine from Nebbiolo grapes. Barolo is produced primarily from these grapes.

These days, only about 3,000 acres of Nebbiolo are being cultivated in the region, which means that Barolo, though in high demand, is in short supply For the perfect Barolo, a certain type of soil is necessary. Oddly, the hills of the growing zone are split between two types of soil, which result in mild variations in flavor.The "left hills" produce a fruitier, longer lasting wine, whereas the "right hills" wine has a more composed taste that should be enjoyed more quickly.

The scent of Barolo is reminiscent of cherry blossoms and the color is a light ruby red that becomes somewhat 'orangey' with age. Age is very important when it comes to Barolo and DOCG regulations state that the wine must be aged at least three years before it can be sold.  To become a coveted Barolo Riserva, a bottle of this wine must age at least 5 years. These are just the stated minimums, though, as Barolo is often enjoyed when aged over 10 years.

This wine is at its best when paired with a meal. Be sure, though, to let it aerate.
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