Solving the Puzzle of Barolo and Barbaresco

The Northeastern Italian region of Piedmont is home to the red wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, both of which have fascinated wine lovers for centuries. Part of their fascination is the Nebbiolo grape that is used to produce these wines – in the right hands, Nebbiolo can produce extremely attractive wines, full of exciting flavors and capable of aging for many years. But there are other elements that might be more important for the overall character of the wine than the hands of the winemaker, and those include the location of the vineyards, the environment that the grapes grow in, and, especially, the soil structure beneath the vines. Variations from one place to another mean that two wines labeled Barolo will not necessarily offer the same flavor profile.

Whereas there is a general set of characteristics that can be attributed to the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, the influence of place is such that there are nuances that are enhanced by some soil structures, or reduced by others. Combining information about the different geological influences with empirical tasting experiences, this article breaks down the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco into their respective communes, with specific comments about the nature of the wines produced from Nebbiolo grapes grown within each individual commune.

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