Tasting Barolo and Barbaresco: A Piedmont Itinerary (Part 1)

Piedmont sits at the foot of the Italian Alps, not far from both Switzerland and France. It is home to Turin, the capital city, known for its abundant baroque architecture and the famous Mole Antolelliana landmark. It goes without saying that Piedmont offers a beautiful landscape, which can be seen from one of its many viewing points. Not to be forgotten is Lake Maggiore, also known as Verbano. This enormous lake, located on the southern side of the Alps, is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. Lake Maggiore is shared by the Italian regions of Piedmont and the Lombardy, and the Swiss canton of Ticino. 

Now to explore the Vineyards. With such a wide range of wineries available, we’ve split this article in two, focussing on wine of 10 – 12 year of aging. If visiting the wineries is from interest, please always make a reservation in advance, we’d hate for you to be turned away.

Lake Maggiore

A beginners guide to Barolo/Barbaresco

Barolo and Barbaresco both regions produce wine with Nebbiolo grapes, and are located in north-west Italy. The main difference between the two? Barbaresco’s soil has more nutrients, meaning that the wines don’t exude as much tannin as they do in Barolo. This difference in the taste is on the mid-palate; the Barbaresco hits slightly harder than the Barolo.

The Barolo wine region, with its UNESCO World Heritage status, is arguably the most famous “Denominazione di Origine controllata” (DOCG) region in Italy. DOCG is a classification awarded for high quality by the Italian Government. The DOCG region consists of 11 villages: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello, Roddi and Verduno.

The small district of Barbaresco is made up of several villages: Neive, Treiso and San Rocco. It holds 700 hectares of Nebbiolo grapes, which produce 3.8 million bottles of Barbaresco every year. Separated from the Barolo area by the town of Alba, the area is covered by vineyards of mainly four different varieties: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Moscato and Barbera.

If new to these wines, taking the time to taste is a must; the perfumed scent will get the taste-buds going. Collectorbits would strongly recommend buying the base tier wines from the better producers, and having a glass soon, as to try the varying range amongst the different producers. It may be worth noting that Barolo wines must be stored for three years before release, and Barbaresco just two years.

First Stop: Castello di Neive

Neive is one of the four villages located in the Bararesco district, and is easily reachable in under 90 mins from Turin airport by car. This family run estate, owned by Stupino siblings Anna, Giulio, Italo an Piera, comprises 60 hectares of the Neive town council, 25 of which are devoted to grape growing and production. This creates an average of 12,000 cases of wine per year from the Neive vineyards alone. 

Castello di Neive is famous for its Barbaresco wines, which leave a pleasant after-taste but offer balance and finesse along with a medium body. And of course, whilst the wine is more than pleasant and the castle is breathtaking, it is the friendly staff of this family-run business who make the trip more than worthwhile.

Taste and buy –  guided tours to the historic cellars: Piazzetta Paolina Demaria, 1 / 12052 Neive

Second Stop: Produttori del Barbaresco

Located directly in the Barbaresco village, Produttori del Barbaresco is one of the world’s leading cooperatives that has been producing excellent wines for five decades. The initial aim of the Piedmontese was to produce high-quality wines with only the Nebbiolo grape variety, and to this day they have done exactly that. The grapes for Barbaresco come from the premium vineyards of Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajé, Montefico, Muncagota and Rio Sordo. Produttori del Barbaresco is certainly worth a visit, and Collectorbits recommends their base Barbaresco.

The best rated Produttori del Barbaresco wines by decanter or wine enthusiast can be found here.

Via Torino, 54 / 12050 Barbaresco

Third stop: Roagna

Having a reputation as a top producer means that Roagna has become very expensive. Roagna traditionally specialises in Barbaresco and Barolo, however they also now have a winery in Castiglione Falletto at their Pira estate. The Barbaresco commune lies in the heart of the Roagna estate, mostly in the fine cru of Pajè. The Raogna family, who works every day to care for their vines, make three distinct cuvées: A Barbaresco “normale” labeled as Barbaresco “Pajè,” a Barbaresco Paje Vecchie Vite and “Crichët Pajè,” made from the crest of the Paje cru.

The Barbarescos are deep, pure and soil-driven wines that offer the fine depth of black fruit and strong signatures of terroir. They have a full-bodied and structured, with firm, well-integrated tannins that demand some time in the cellar before drinking. They have a superb track record for longevity.

The Barolos are more robust and have a core of black cherry, liquorice and earthy tones. They too are  full-bodied and powerful wines, with fine balances and the potential to easily evolve in the cellar for over thirty years. Like many traditional Barolo or Barbaresco producers, the wines of Roagna improve greatly if decanted prior to drinking, even if the wines have spent a number of years in the cellar.

Cantina in Barbaresco / Loc. Paglieri 9 / 12050 Barbaresco

Fourth Stop: Cascina delle Rose

Cascina delle Rose is located in Barbaresco’s  Rio Sordo Valley. The winery is run by Giovanna Rizzolio, one of the few women to be running a winery in the Langhe in the early 90s – a pioneer for women winemakers in the region. This wonderful winery has grown significantly over time. Initially started to produce wines for only family and friends, in 1984 – 85, Cascine delle Rose began pressing 100% of their grapes, and today, they  produce more than 25,000 bottles annually. Take a look at the wine reviews

The unique estate with its beautiful views of the hills of the Alps, offers rooms or apartments for their guests –  a delight experience guaranteed! 

If trying different cuisine in this region, Cascina delle Rose’s wines are also served at the three MICHELIN Star Restaurant Piazza Duomo in Alba, which is definitely worth visiting.

Strada Rio Sordo, 58 / 12050 Barbaresco

Fifth Stop: Poderi Colla

Poderi Colla aims to have minimal impact on the environment while producing pure wine. The Colla family business is going back 300 years, in which they have undergone extensive research and testing in order to preserve and promote the great wines of Piedmont. The Poderi Colla’s wines respect the local nature in which the grapes were grown. There is no particular process which takes place in the cellar, and the variety in the microclimate, along with the variations in soil, result in unique products and individual flavours. Their Barolo and Barbaresco are somewhat traditional and the individual wines express their own flavors, reflecting the unique terroir. Scores of wines can be found here.

San Rocco Seno d’Elvio 82, 12051 Alba – Cuneo, Italia

Sixth Stop: Alberto Burzi

Alberto and Catherine Burzi are the first generation of their family to both grow and bottle wines. Before that, the siblings’ grandparents planted and grew vines and sold the grapes to a big cooperative cellar. Alberto and Catherine inherited the vineyards after a generation leap and started today’s business in 2012.

Initially producing la Morra, they have more recently expanded their portfolio to include three Nebbiolo based wines. The Burzi siblings represent the newest generation of winemakers, and produce a mere 20,000 bottles per year. They aim to create delicate yet transparent Nebbiolo and Barbera, and seem to be doing exceptionally well.

The breathtaking landscape of Langhe from the vineyard gives you a feel for the region before heading into the cellar to taste their wines with the appetizing roasted hazelnuts.

In short, when I drink a glass of Barolo, I would like it to taste as Barolo, Langhe, La Morra.”

Alberto Burzi

Wine scores can be found here.

Frazione Santa Maria, 9 / 12064 La Morra