Barolo: Italy's Finest Vineyards and Greatest Vintages

This is the third installment of my three part series on Barolo. In part one we looked at the wine and its history, in part two we examined the modernist versus traditionalist debate, and in this part we will look more closely at some of the finest vineyards to be found anywhere in the world. Then we will also examine the extraordinary string of good and great vintages Piemonte has enjoyed and that are available on store shelves now.

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An important consideration when choosing a Barolo is the vineyard where the grapes were grown. Basic Barolos are often a blend a many different vineyards. Many of the basic bottlings of Barolo carry no named vineyard. Actually, calling them basic is a bit wanting as those wines can be amazingly good wines. Still, the better Barolos often have a specific commune or vineyard named. Understanding the names can help you to determine your preferences and choose a better bottle.

When you start looking at the more expensive Barolos, those grapes are often from one vineyard or possibly a few of the better ones. The Barolo DOCG encompasses 11 different communes. Some have said that there are only five that matter. That, while perhaps a bit of an overstatement, has some truth to it. The five include: Monforte d’Alba, La Mora, Castiglione Faletto, Serralunga d’Alba, and Barolo (the commune that gives its name to the wine and the DOCG). Truly these five vineyards do produce most of the best Barolos. They have the advantage of being in the right altitudes with good soils and proper exposure to the sun. At the same time, there are good wines coming from the remaining communes, which include Diano d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, Novello, Cherasco, Roddi, and Verduno. Often times these wines can be purchased for a bit less money.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.