Barolo trophy winner: Gemma Colarej Barolo 2016

Wine news

Wed 3 Mar 2021

By Stuart Peskett

Gemma's vineyard in Piedmont, Italy

Barolo is a wine that many have tried to imitate, but none have ever truly succeeded to replicate outside its heartland: Piedmont in Italy. Barolo is made with the temperamental Nebbiolo grape, and when mastered, it delivers an elusive combination of – we’re not joking – tar and roses. On one hand, Barolo is full-bodied, earthy and rich; on the other, it’s elegant, floral and beguiling.

Gemma Cantine is one producer that has mastered this trickiest of styles. Founded in 1978 in the heart of the Barolo region, Gemma began production in an old building near a medieval castle, and upgraded to a new site nearby in 2012. Silvano Piacentini set Gemma up, and his son Luigi now runs the company along with Giorgio Barbero.

Gemma Colarej Barolo 2016 scored 95/100pts and drew huge praise from the IWSC judges. This is what they had to say: “Precise, elegant and really well made. Stony minerality leads to sweet ripe cherries. Excellent complexity on the palate with floral and spicy characteristics. Vanilla notes evolve into firm dry tannins on the finish. Wonderfully composed! Drinking beautifully now and will be showing its best in a coming years.”


Gemma's founder Silvano Piacentini with his son Luigi Piacentini

We caught up with Gemma’s president, Luigi Piacentini, to discover the secrets of Barolo and what makes this award-winning producer’s wines so sought-after by wine lovers.

Tell us about your history and background…

After many years in wine distribution, my father Silvano Piacentini decided to launch a new winery in Serralunga d’Alba, an area considered one of the most authentic of Barolo. It all started in an old building which was the property of Opera Pia Barolo of Marchesi Falletti, in the historic centre of the village, near a medieval castle.

In 2012, Gemma expanded its activity with a new, modern winery, not far from the first site. The winery features state-of-the-art solar and geothermic panels, and it has obtained ISO certification for CO2 zero emissions during the production process, from vineyard to bottle.

What is your winemaking philosophy?

Our winemaking philosophy takes care of the wine production with the important aim of respecting the grape varieties and their production area. This way, we can emphasise the vine, looking for the highest elegance, which allows the wines to be perfect.

Since 2016, we’ve headed towards organic and biological production and farming. Our 26 hectares of vineyards are located in different communes which are part of Langhe region: Alba, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Roddi, Roddino, Serralunga d’Alba and Sinio, and the vines are 25 to 30 years old. We also harvest and vinify grapes from other renowned areas in the Piedmont region.

As president, I manage the commercial, marketing and financial areas with constant attention to the winemaking process. And as a professional sommelier, I can contribute in the production area in coordination with our winemaker, bringing suggestions to improve quality.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given and how did you use that in your winemaking?

The best advice we received then put into practice was to vinify separately every little parcel of Nebbiolo grapes for our Barolo wine.


How can people best enjoy your wine?

We consider food-matching the best way to enjoy Gemma wines, because in this way you can discover and appreciate the perfect balance that we have in our wines. Our red wines marry perfectly with dishes such as red meat, barbecued meats and braised beef. Our white wines are ideal served as aperitifs or with fish dishes and white-meat dishes. And, of course, we believe that our Moscato d’Asti is the best accompaniment with a dessert or to end a meal.

View more top-rated Barolo wines