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Italian Pride vs French Grandeur – in wine, too!

No more wooden spoon for Italy! After the first winning rugby match versus France, people now know that Italy has a good rugby team.

What about Italian wine? Do wine lovers in the world know that Italy offers a wonder- team of really great wines, able to compete with the best in the world, and often at by far lower prices? Or does Italian wine need a “six nation tournament of wines” before reaching the acknowledgement?

Barolo, for instance. It is called “il re dei vini”, “the king of Italian wines”. It is produced in a very small area in Piedmont, including eleven small villages where the village of Barolo is the centre.   There are only 1500 hectares of nebbiolo vineyards there,  the grape giving Barolo docg wine.

After harvesting, late in October, you have to wait four years before drinking, and by law no younger nebbiolo wine can be called Barolo. The area of production has several crus (the best special parts of the hills around, with the best vineyards) and the real connoisseurs are able to understand the differences by tasting…  some wines are smoother, some more pleasantly “rough in tannins”. This nice hardness in mouth, as a matter of fact, is the best character  to find out in these great wines: it gives great personality, and is getting better and better by ageing.

The best Barolos are very long living, and you could be very lucky and happy whenever slowly sipping a glass of 1958 elegant, brick red coloured, well balanced, long lasting and rich tasting, full perfuming Barolo!   The main differences among different Barolos is given by the winemaker job in choosing how to refine the wine after fermentation: you will have a more ready to drink and a softer vanilla-smelling taste when they used a small barrique, and more elegance after long ageing if the vat have been a very large Slavonian oak barrel, which is the traditional ancient method.

And what about the match with France? Barolo can be placed in your cellar together with the best cru of Burgundy Pinot Noir. Different perfumes and taste, but the same light red colour, and pleasure of drinking. And be sure, at the same level of quality Italian price will be more affordable.


About Maurizio Fava

Maurizio Fava is a sommelier and a certified grappa taster. He is the publisher and editor of "Door to Italy", a travel publication, and founder of Alessandria Top Wine, a showcase of Piedmont wines taking place every year in Piedmont. He was also a judge at the International Wine Challenge in London. He is a former editor at Slow Food and Gambero Rosso Guida Vini d'Italia.

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One comment

  1. It’s all absolutely true.

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