^ Langhe in Piedmont is renowned for its Barolo wines
One of the big-hitters of the Old World, Barolo is among the finest – perhaps the finest – wine to come from Italy. The ‘king of wines and the wine of kings’, as it is known, is also something of a contradiction.
Barolo is an intriguing combination of power and subtlety – that the two dominant aromas are tar and roses seems highly appropriate. Barolo must be made with 100% Nebbiolo, a demanding grape that takes its name from the Italian for fog (nebbia) which rolls through the region and settles like a thick blanket during harvest time.
One barrier to Barolo is how long it needs to age before drinking. Firstly, it must be aged for just over three years before it can be released. Not only that, but Barolo historically needed time for its tannins to be tamed – 15 to 20 years was the norm. Once fully mature, this stunning red would offer red fruit, liquorice, leather and truffle in abundance – not forgetting those signature tar and roses notes.
But change is afoot. The past decade or so has seen a determined push by producers for their Barolos to be drinkable at an earlier age. Now, you’ll find that Barolos are approachable while still in single figures, and wines from warmer vintages even earlier. This year's IWSC award-winning Barolos are proof of this; try gold-medal winners such as Terre del Barolo’s La Terre 2016 or Perno 2016 from Sordo.
Le Terre 2016
Terre del Barolo
Deceptively restrained on the nose but nothing is held back on the palate. Ripe morello cherries with sage, leather and roses. Very intense and extremely elegant with dry tannins and a precise, balanced and refreshing acidity. 14% n/a in UK
Balanced and bold, rich and ripe. The nose reveals raspberries and plums backed by black truffle and dry leaves. The palate's delicate texture tightropes between ripe fruits and meaty oak. A perfect equilibrium between fruit, acid and tannic structure. 14% RRP £26 enquire at Vinissimus
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! 14% RRP £39 from Oddbins
Opulent, encapsulating and oh-so-fragrant. A procession of ripe fruits with strawberries, raspberries and plums lead the way. Mesmerising graphite minerality with a touch of toasty oak. Distinguished yet delicate, the tannic structure remains tense and dashing. 14.5% n/a in UK
Serra dei Turchi 2016
Enticing and intense, the aromas of red cherries mix with vanilla and roses. These balance on the palate with a bold acidity alongside rich and juicy, fine-grained tannins. 14.5% n/a in UK
Asda Extra Special 2015
International Procurement and Logistics
Floral nose with notes of rose petal and violet alongside seductive red fruit on the palate with hints of menthol and blueberry. Well-integrated fine tannins that illustrate excellent typicity. 14% RRP £16.50 from Asda
Focused and bright raspberries and cherries with a clean and linear graphite minerality. Sweet fruits and leather on the palate bind themselves up with the rich and precise tannins. 14% RRP £26 from Grape Passions