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Barolo vs Barbaresco - a Nebbiolo thread


Hi Inbar. I enjoyed the Barolo, with some qualifications. I’ve never tried one before so don’t know what they are meant to be like, am afflicted with bad hayfever and I felt that it was a little too warm. Anyway, here goes. Decanted for about an hour. Colour: light; brick red; orange at rim (strange colours for a young wine?). Nose: Red cherries; floral (violets); bit of spice. Taste: very little, probably due to hayfever. Dry with pronounced tannins and acidity, but light to medium bodied. Overall, I enjoyed it, but the sensations of tannin and acidity trumped the flavours, certainly with repect to taste (probably me, not the wine). Probably worth the £13 or so at reduced price, but full price, I doubt it. Drank it with an Anna Del Conte ‘polpette’ recipe. I must make a point of trying a ‘proper’ Barolo when my senses are a little sharper; I suspect they are intriguing… Will try the remainder tomorrow, but I suspect it won’t have improved.

Weekend Drinking Thread [20 April 18]

Thanks for taking the time to report back, @JonM1978! :+1:
I’m not a Barolo fan either. Have tried a few in the past, but not enough to develop a deeper appreciation and knowledge. Still, I look forward to giving this one a go (would be interesting to compare with your notes!) - and as you say, at least it was not the full price, so if it’s not up to much it won’t be a great loss.
Hope you get over your hayfever soon! My other half is also suffering with it at the moment, so you got my sympathy… :sneezing_face:


Thanks Inbar, some chocolate ice cream is helping! :wink:


That is typical for Barolo (and more broadly Nebbiolo) even relatively young. So is the rest of your description, save for probably the lack of intensity of flavour that I read from your note. Also not sure what the vintage was, but that could have also influenced the quality.


Morning. That’s interesting re the colour. It was a 2013. The lack of flavour intensity may well be down to me. Are they typically quite intensely perfumed? I will certainly explore this grape. Is there much difference between a Barbaresco and a Barolo, or is it just that Barolo is generally ‘better’. I’ve read that Barolo is Italy’s answer to Burgundy with respect to terroir influence (is it therefore the expensive minefield that led me to decide to not really explore Burgundy!!?).


Got it in one, I have a long time ago had both Conterno and Sandrone Barolos that were very good, but so many others have been very expensive purchases that simply did not deliver and from top winemakers in top years, when you spend that sort of money you are entitled to a bit of consistency in the product, I do have a couple of very good ? cases of Barolo in bond but after my Gaja failure they will be sold on, not worth the risk.


Thanks @cerberus I’d very much like to try some more Barolos but will stick to reviewed bottles and steer clear of EP.


I think the main difference between Barolo and Barbaresco is that Barolo has to spend longer in barrel. That leads Barolo to be more complex and long-lived. With a good vintage Barolo you might not consider drinking it for 10 years, where a Barbaresco might be ready earlier. Barbaresco is a little lighter.

There are definitely similarities between Nebbiolo and Burgundy Pinot - firstly that they’re decidedly pernicious. Given how good the wines are from that corner of Italy, you’d think there would be plantings of it all over the place as growers tried to make their own style of Nebbiolo. Sadly it just doesn’t seem to do well elsewhere. It’s fussy about weather, soil, what direction the vineyard faces… Terroir definitely comes across in the wines in the same way that it does with Pinot - you get very different styles from Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Ghemme etc.

So for Barolo you’ve got that combo of being tricky to grow, with a relatively small area where it thrives, requiring a fair amount of storage before it’s ready - all things that drive the price up.

From my experience (which is not extensive), Barolo for less than £20 is probably not worth bothering with. That’s not to say it’s horrible or anything, but if you really want to get a feel for what it’s about, you would need to spend £25+. The Society has a very nice Ciabot Berton Barolo at £25 that’s a good example. It’s drinkable now, but might improve further. I haven’t tried the Exhibition bottling, which I’m sure will be good.

Look out for Langhe Nebbiolo too - this is usually cheaper as it doesn’t come from the classified regions, but can still be absolutely delicious. It’s fresher and fruitier and can be drunk young. TWS had a Renato Ratti last year that was a joy.

In the past there have been a few cheaper Nebbiolo options in the TWS range, but they’re a bit lacking there at the moment. I’m not a big fan of the Manfredi Nebbiolo d’Alba and there really isn’t anything else until you reach the £20 mark. Hopefully there will be some more Piedmontese products on the way before long!


Paid about £40 a bottle for 6 of these about 15 years ago, drank the last one in the Autumn, glad I did as its £100+ on cellar tracker. Was magnificent.

I’d suggest trying some of the very decent wines from Ghemme, Gattinaria and Valtellina as a starting point as the value/quality ratio is in my opinion better than either Barolo or Barbaresco, although not reaching the full heights of the very best.


Thanks very much @Bargainbob, that’s really useful. Having looked at my World Atlas of Wine, the area looks highly nuanced…


I’d agree with this - Roero too


An interesting article on the difference between Barolo and Barbaresco. I read it just before spending a week there in November and it helped put the whole region in context.

As has been suggested the Langhe Nebs are well worth exploring and even the Dolcettos offer plenty of enjoyment.


As Andrew Jefford says the main difference in the two regions is the soil, this short video puts the same story but with a more varied approach.

and this one with Luca Corrado the winemaker at Vietti, one of the Barolos the Lazzaroto 2006 I have in bond.

what comes from all this is simply Barolo is a fickle grape and like Pinot Noir it is not easy to make great wine from the grape as I have found to my cost, when it has lived up to the hype then it is very special, getting that bottle is the problem.
As an example I stayed at an hotel in Monforte d’alba for a week awhile back, the hotel had a Michelin starred restaurant and a “bible” of a wine list with hundreds of Barolos, with help I had a different Barolo each night of our stay and despite the theatrics the Italians give when serving great wines the truth was only two stood the test, and one, the most expensive was poor, they didn’t agree of course but changed the maker anyway, quite right to considering the money I had spent there.

The cheaper areas such as the Langhe can supply decent examples of the Nebbiolo grape, but in honesty it is not Barolo anymore than the satelite regions of Burgundy can provide the real thing.

For me if I wanted and could wait for Barolo to mature and had no prior knowledge of the grape and wineries and wanted to buy EP I would hedge my bets and get a mixed case, at least then the odds of a few good bottles are better.


I’ve moved this fascinating conversation into its own thread as it deserves a lot more profile than the weekly drinking thread. Lots of interesting content.

Here’s my small contribution - an introductory video to the grape in question: Nebbiolo; by the lovely, and very amusing TheWineBird (aka Helena Nicklin)


Hilarious clip! And she really seems to get to the nub of it (the Lady Boys of Bangkok are just performing in Brighton, so her imagery was familiar! :wink:).
I must say, I am yet to come across a Barolo/nebbiolo that makes it all ‘click’. My experience so far has been like trying to befriend a very reluctant grape… But I’m not giving up just yet!
Thanks all for your very useful input! :+1::blush:


What really got me interested in wine, as opposed to interest in drinking just about any alcohol, was a 1968 Barolo which I had been given in 1975, and which I uncorked and drank in 1997. Absolutely delicious and suddenly opened my eyes to the whole concept and benefit of ageing good wine - a completely transformative experience!


Ooh, chocolate ice cream as a treatment for hay fever! Do you rub it your eyes or just take it internally like an antihistamine :wink::joy:


Thanks Tim. Terroir it is then…


I haven’t yet tried ‘topical application’! Two servings oncer per day, taken internally seems to be the ticket. :wink:


I’ve had a small handful of really lovely Barolos over the years.

I keep meaning to explore it in more detail and start gathering a small collection and what have you, but then I think about how site-sensitive nebbiolo is reputed to be, then I look at the topography of the region. Then I hold my head in my hands as I remember all the countless hours I spent poring over maps of the Côte d’Or. Could I really put myself through that all over again…:thinking:

Still the way Burgundy prices are going, maybe I’ll have to!