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The king of wines and the wine of kings – Barolo with Federico & Nelson

On 3rd October, two of our brilliant sommeliers hosted a tasting full of fun and character as they led our Members and their guests through the beautiful, expressive region of Barolo. The Barolo boys promised a highly entertaining, simple yet essential trip through the vines of Barolo, snaking through both the classic and new, up-and-coming producers, and they certainly delivered.

We hear about the event through Nelson’s eyes…

It was a true pleasure to welcome our Members and guide them through some of the most special vines of my home country. If you are a Nebbiolo lover or simply wanted to learn more about one of the most beautiful wine-growing regions on earth, this Masterclass really was an unmissable opportunity to get to grips with Barolo. We began with the producers.

Producers: Traditionalist vs Modernist

Even if the focus seems to be shifted towards the Crus and single vineyards, the most important thing you need to pay attention to is who produces the wine. In a nutshell, the thing that you need to know regarding winemakers in Barolo is to understand if they are Traditionalist or Modernist.

The main difference in the taste of the wine is that Traditionalists age the wines in big Italian botti whilst Modernists use French barriques. Nowadays, understanding these two styles is slightly harder than before because the Modernists are starting to use big botti as well as  reducing the use of new French oak creating in certain cases (for example the new vintages of Bric del Fiasc from Paolo Scavino) styles of wine that sit somewhere inbetween. This new trend is pushing the Modernist producers to deny the name that made them famous (top tip –  don’t ever ask a modernist if he/she is a modernist!).

Here are some examples of classic Traditionalist/Modernist producers:

Traditionalist: Bartolo Mascarello, Giuseppe Rinaldi, Giuseppe Mascarello e Figli, Giacomo Conterno, Principiano, Castello di Verduno

Modernist: Aldo Conterno, Chiara Boschis, Domenico Clerico, Roberto Voerzio, Cordero di Montezemolo

The MGA aka Cru of Barolo

The Crus of Barolo have many historical facts that are proving the need for their existence as a few centuries back growers knew how to price the grapes according to specific areas like Romirasco, Ravera etc. The main problem of the MGAs is that they are marketed with an in depth analysis of the single cru without a focus on the main village. Imagine to think of La Tache separated from the village of Vosne Romanee. It wouldn’t make any sense, would it?

Barolo, once submerged by the sea, came alive in two main areas with two different soils. One is the Tortonian, based on sand and includes the communes of La Morra and Barolo. Barolo breeds subtle and elegant wines. The other area, the Elvetian is based on clay and includes the communes of Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. These wines create more powerful, austere and long-lived expressions. No matter the specifics of the Cru, most of the time it will reflect the main geological structure (most of the time…).

Here are some of the best crus from every commune of Barolo:

Verduno (tortonian) Monvigliero Burlotto, Paolo Scavino, Castello di Verduno
La Morra (tortonian) Brunate


Rocche dell’Annunziata

Giuseppe Rinaldi, Roberto Voerzio, Elio Altare, Renato Ratti
Barolo (tortonian) Cannubi

Cannubi Boschi

Luciano Sandrone, Chiara Boschis, Paolo Scavino
Novello (tortonian) Ravera Elvio Cogno
Castiglione Falletto (elvetian) Villero


Giuseppe Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno,
Monforte d’Alba (elvetian) Bussia


Paolo Conterno, Aldo Conterno, Elio Grasso
Serralunga d’Alba (elvetian) Falletto



Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa, Oddero

The Vintages

Since 2001, all vintages of Barolo have been exemplary as, usually, when the desired quality is not reached the top producers don’t release the vintage.

There are excellent vintages and minor vintages. The excellent ones are divided into Classic vintages (cold weather) and the arid vintages (the hot ones) whilst the minor vintages are due to the weather being too hot or cold/rainy. When the weather is balanced, it creates good wines with no particular excellence. Here’s a quick chart for you:

2000: Climate Change, Arid

2001: Excellent, Classic

2002: Minor, Rainy/Hail

2003: Minor, Torrid

2004: Excellent, Classic

2005: Balanced

2006: Excellent, Classic

2007: Excellent, Arid

2008: Excellent, Classic

2009: Excellent, Arid

2010: Excellent, Classic

2011: Excellent, Arid

2012: Balanced

2013: Excellent, Classic

2014: Minor, Rainy/Hail

2015: Excellent, Arid

2016: Excellent, Classic

2017: Minor, Torrid

2018: Climate Change, Classic

The real trick to know which vintage to buy is to pair the two types of excellent vintages with the producer’s style. Traditionalist tends to have better wines in Classic vintages while Modernist in the Arid ones.

“Barolo is a wine worth devoting yourself to.” Battista Rinaldi


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