The gently undulating land that surrounds the picture-postcard village of Barolo in Italy’s Piedmont region is an enchanting destination for gastronomic pleasures, drives through verdant countryside and deep discoveries into one of Italy’s most magnificent wines. Some of the most famous names in Italian wine, from Giacomo Conterno to Giuseppe Mascarello, call this place home.
To drink Barolo while in Barolo is a sublime and emotional experience. Made of Nebbiolo grapes, these wines dazzle aromatically and are often characterized by aromas and flavors of “tar and roses” along with cherries, licorice, violets and dried herbs. A wine of patience and contemplation, it has the ability to stir both the soul and the intellect. When paired with the region’s lusty food, it delights the palate and warms the heart.
Barolo’s authenticity, charm and beauty are astonishing. The village’s ancient cobblestone streets offer strolls to quaint wine shops, tasting rooms, restaurants, an ancient hilltop castle and views of some of the most famous vineyards in the world. All combined, it is a multisensory immersion into a magical place.
The 10th century Castello Falletti castle, perched on top of a hill, is the focal point, where the WiMu Wine Museum provides guided tours through the history and legends associated with the castle, the village and wine.
Also within the castle is Agrilab, a place to discover Piedmont wines in an original way. With the help of interactive audio, visuals, aroma jars and three-dimensional maps, visitors can learn about and enjoy native wines, including Nebbiolo, Barbera, Moscato, Cortese, Erbaluce, Arneis, Dolcetto, Freisa and Grignolino.
Farther in the basement of the castle is the Enoteca Regionale Del Barolo, which houses an impressive collection of wines representing all 11 villages of the Barolo region, from La Morra and Verduno, to Castignole Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba.
Continue to stroll to the base of the castle to find the Barolo corkscrew museum, Museo dei Cavatappi, which showcases hundreds of corkscrews from various countries that range from the 18th century to present.
Farther down the hill is La Vite Turchese, a hybrid shop and tasting room with a youthful vibe and atmosphere. The knowledgeable staff specializes in highly customized tastings and offers larger names along with lesser-known producers from Piedmont and throughout the world.
During the summer, 750-resident Barolo is home to one of the most popular cultural events in northern Italy. Drawing thousands of visitors each year, Barolo transforms into a lively festival where international music, world literature, gastronomy, wine and culture “collide” at the multiday Collisioni. Surrounded by UNESCO-crowned vineyard landscapes, the stage has hosted artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Elton John and Depeche Mode through the years. To watch a concert here is unlike any other.
Amid alpine peaks, wild valleys, medieval castle-topped knolls, Barolo township is part of a larger Barolo region of made up of 11 villages in the relatively populous Langhe hills. The name Langhe comes from the Italian word for “tongue,” because the district’s rolling hills and shape slightly resemble a human tongue.
While strolling or driving along the vineyards, it’s hard to miss the majestic and imposing Lebanese Cedar tree that sits upon Monfaletto Hill at Cordero di Montezemolo winery. Ancestors of the estate, in celebration of their wedding to mark of their love for the earth, planted it in 1856. Legend has it that the young couple wished for this sentiment to endure in the hearts of generations to come. The tree is a reminder of their wish, as well as the history and traditions of this land.
Montezemolo is one of many wineries that offer wine-tasting tours by reservation. The tours might include a light lunch, a tasting experience and a trip to the vineyard where these grapes are grown. Suggestions for other places to visit include Marchesi di Barolo, Sordo, Gianni Gagliardo, Elvio Cogno, Ceretto, Prunotto, and Fontanafredda.
After tasting enough wine, one is bound to learn and appreciate the geographic subtleties of Barolo. Once back at home, a glass will take you right back to this magical place. That’s a trip worth taking — sip after sip.
Prunotto celebrates the classic Nebbiolo grape to define the Bussia vineyard, regarded as one of the most renowned of the Barolo zone. The Antinori family renovated an historic farmhouse and its underground cellars. It restructured the site to vinify and age their single vineyard Vigna Colonnello, which lies in the center of Bussia and produces a Barolo that expresses all of the peculiarities of this territory. A tasting room overlooks the beautiful amphitheater of Bussia where visitors can appreciate the uniqueness of this cru and other Prunotto wines.
PODERI GIANNI GAGLIARDO
Of the 11 official communes within the Barolo appellation, Poderi Gianni Gagliardo has vineyards located in five, Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Verduno, Barolo and La Morra. The family cultivates three other vineyards in the neighboring area of the Roero, which are dedicated to other varieties, including Favorita (Vermentino). Visitors are welcome to visit the tasting room in La Morra by making an appointment for a personally tailored experience and tasting.
The Azienda Agricola Sordo Giovanni is in Castiglione Falletto. The family-run winery is the only winery that boasts eight different kinds of Barolo crus. A guide will take guests on a tour through the production process and descend 12 meters underground to find the pearl of the family — the infernot, a Piedmontese word which means little dark cellar where the family keeps the best wines. An unforgettable Barolo tasting awaits.
MARCHESI DI BAROLO
Marchesi di Barolo is a historic winery overlooking the Castello Falletti (Barolo Castle), where the story of Barolo began 200 years ago. Fifth-generation Anna and Ernesto Abbona and their grown children, Valentina and Davide, firmly believe in the original and distinguished wines produced in this region, characterized by a number of highly prestigious native vines and unique soil composition. A visit to the winery takes guests straight to the soul of the family’s operation with a guided tour of their historic cellars which holds 15,000 bottles of vintage Barolo, some dating back to the mid-1800s. Then emerge back up to the tasting room to taste wines, paired with gastronomic specialties of the Langhe.