Barolo and Barbaresco—The King and Queen of Wines

Known as "the wine of kings, the king of wines," Barolo makes massive dry red wine from the Nebbiolo Grape, with structure and power.



It has a medium body, yet high tannin and alcohol. It takes years for the tannin to relax, and are best consumed after 12 years of age. Barolo is grown on very convoluted terrain in southwestern Piemonte. There are two main soil types here: the longest lived are grown in sandstone, while sandy soil delivers more perfumed wine. Historically, these wines were blends, yet single vineyard versions became accessible after the outstanding 1961 vintage. With a ruby to orange rim, they have three years minimum aging between oak and bottle.


Barbaresco is another set of hills, located two miles from Barolo. Wines from Barbaresco are also dry Nebbiolo, however they have less weight and intensity. What they lack in strength, they make up for with aromatics and elegance. Barbaresco is best consumed between 10 and 15 years old, but won't age as well as Barolo after that. Vines are grown on southern slopes in a warmer microclimate, so they are harvested earlier, leading to less harsh tannins. Barbaresco are aged for one year in oak, then one year in the bottle before release. Using less oak than Barolo makes Barbaresco approachable sooner. I imagine parallels between Pauillac and St. Julien, or Napa vs Alexander Valley (except with Nebbiolo of course).


Poderi Colla Dardi le Rose Bussia Barolo 2001 This was one of the first producers to bottle single vineyard Barolo. Makeup is 100% Nebbiolo, grown on south and east facing slopes, between 300 and 400 meters in elevation. Color is pale garnet with major evolution to deep orange. It is very perfumed, with rose petal, incense and fresh herbs immediately springing out of the glass. In time, a complex mesh of scents including strawberry, licorice, tobacco, plum, orange peel, figs, potpourri, eucalyptus, dried fruit, and truffle all made themselves known. A great combination of primary fruit and secondary bottle-developed aromas. Medium bodied, but tightly wound with a lot of underlying power. The palate is seamless, with the fruit lifted by racy acidity to give it good length. The relaxed, yet evident 'fuzzy' tannins are refreshing rather than overwhelming at this stage of development, framing the wine and giving it plenty of edge and definition. You can tell that wine was extremely tannic in its youth. The finish is a combination of woodsy and cocoa powder. Immensely gratifying and harmonious - this is a fine wine in its prime. I had to try this with Osso Buco alla Milanese, but totally underestimated the preparation time. Three hours later with no end in sight, I decided to cook up some bratwurst for dinner that night, which went quite well with the merlot. The next day, we ate the Osso Buco with risotto, and opened up the Barolo. The acid from the tomatoes matched the wines acidity, while the soft beef was great against the tannin. Even the risotto was a nice pairing, with truffled cheese playing with the wines viscosity and truffle flavor. On the third day, I diced up the remaining veal and cooked down the sauce to make a kind of pasta Bolognese. There was about a glass of Barolo left and it was falling apart by this time. All of the beautiful perfumes were gone, but it still went well with the meal. If I did it again, I would make pasta with morels, herbs and parmesan to bring out the Barolo’s truffle and forest floor qualities.