The Story behind the King of wines – Origins of Barolo d’Alba
The origins of Barolo d’Alba has a noble history full of events and illustrious personalities, “Wine of kings and king of wines”, as Barolo was defined to the court of Turin, a description that has continued to accompany it for ages.
It is believed that the origins of barolo d’Alba is back to Roman age, but in its modern sense, it is possible to establish its birth around 1830, thanks to the contribution of various figures: Marquis Falletti, French oenologist Louis Oudart, Count Camillo Benso of Cavour and, last but not least, General Staglieno.
The Falletti family was a family of bankers who, since 1250, owned lands in the District of Alba.
Marquis Carlo Tancredi Falletti married Juliette Colbert de Maulevrier, who became known as Giulia Falletti of Barolo in Italy, belonging to a noble and rich family of France.
Juliette was a very popular personality in her time, promoter of one of the most important intellectual circle of Turin and protector of the writer Silvio Pellico.
In 1838, after the death of Carlo Tancredi, Juliette obtained the Faletti family’s properties.
She called French oenologist Louis Oudart in her estates, who applied the techniques used on French wines.
Before this modern “rebirth”, in origin the Barolo d’Alba was a sweet and slightly rough wine that is obtained from fermentation in the open air.
In the mid-19th century, the Langhe area was very poor, vinified Nebbiolo allowed farmers to use this wine, with a low content of alcohol but at the same time, full of sugars and calories, as a nutritional supplement.
By Juliette’s will, underground cellars were built, creating a microclimate capable of modifying and slowing down the fermentation process.
The wine could diligently mature, allowing Barolo to develop body and structure, characteristics that nowadays are emblematic of its identity.
In a short time, this wine became very popular in all the courts of Europe.
King Charles Albert of Savoy asked to Juliette to taste it.
Camillo Benso of Cavour had an amazing marketing idea: he gave 325 barrels of Barolo to King of Italy, Charles Albert, 1 for each day of the year minus 40 barrels to not be consumed during Lent, and in turn, the king sent this noble wine to all the royal families of Europe.
It was exactly following this event, that at the court of Turin, Barolo was defined as “wine of kings and king of wines”.
King Charles Albert of Savoy was so impressed by this wine that he decided to buy the properties of Verduno and Pollenzo.
Properties that he entrusted to the General Staglieno, pioneer of a new Piedmontese oenology.
The innovations introduced by the General were different, from the selection process, to the maceration until the barrels’ cleaning, each step of the process was examined.
The Gervais method (published some years before by two French oenologists) was introduced and it was used to eliminate the overflow of carbonic acid and dioxide in the wine-making.
Staglieno was also called as an expert for his estate of Grinzanne by Cavour.
Thanks to his influence, Cavour gave prominence to the quality of the Piedmont wines’ production, absolutely capable to compete with the French ones for their properties and varieties.
In 1844, Barolo was bottled for the first time as a still and dry wine.
In 1966, Barolo obtained the DOC brand (Controlled Designation of Origin) and later, in 1980, the DOCG one (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin).
The DOCG category includes wines produced in specific geographical areas and which comply with some production rules.
They can take the name of Barolo only those wines produced with pure Nebbiolo grapes, the vines’ maturation is expected for October (late vine), when the first fogs arrive and the grapes seems cloudy, opaque, synonymous of a thick hoarfrost layer.
The municipalities in the area of Langhe are eleven, where Barolo can be produced.
Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione, Falletto and part of the territories of Monforte d’Alba, Roddi, La Morra, Verduno, Diano d’Alba, Novello, Verduno, Cherasco and Grinzane Cavour are the places authorized to the Barolo’s production.
Even if the districts where Barolo is produced are part of the Langhe’s area, the wines produced have characteristics that differentiate them from each other.
A great wealth of declination due to the lands’ variety and the presence of several microclimates.
Barolo is a wine that has to age for a long time, to flaunt its best characteristics.
The minimum is three years, of which eighteen months in durmast barrels.
If the ageing reaches five years, the definition of “Supply” will be added to Barolo.
Its best characteristics appear after ten years. With an alcohol content of 13 degrees, Barolo can be tasted perfectly with red meat dishes, foods with truffle and ripened hard cheese.
Like all the great red wines is excellent also with meditation wine.
Besides with meals, Barolo is also an essential ingredient for two typical dishes of Piedmontese cuisine: the pot roast and Barolo risotto.
We have already said previously that there are several variations of Barolo.
At the end of the 19th century, a variant of Barolo was introduced, still present nowadays, which takes the name of Barolo Chinato for the pharmacist Giuseppe Cappellano.
In the tradition it was used to treat colds and digestive disorders.
Barolo Chinato is obtained by adding sugar and ethyl alcohol.
The ethyl alcohol is previously left to macerate with different spices and roots (Cinchona officinalis, root of rhubarb, root of gentian and cardamom’s seeds).
Its alcohol content is between 16 and 17 degrees and its taste combined with bitter sweet can be served after a meal or as a meditation wine.
If you are interested in tasting this historic wine, contact us for Piedmont wine Tours, with a guide who will tell you the history of this land through the tasting of the best wines in the world.