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Elio Altare & The Barolo Boys Revolution

Barolo is a very ‘political’ wine. How else? Aren’t we all seriously speaking about the ‘revolution’ that happened in a wine region and forever changed lives of thousands of people in the area, and, well, millions of somms and connoisseurs in the big world?

View over the Barolo vineyards from La Morra town centre in the early morning with mist and clouds
Good morning from La Morra!

Barolo is a very ‘political’ wine.

Today I’m going to tell you the story of the Barolo Boys Revolution from the perspective of one of the most rebellious members of the gang. Some of the ‘Boys’ are now quite moderate in their cellars, combining traditional and modern techniques, but his winery until the day it has his name on the label, will always stay true to the principles established and kept from the time of their revolution. Ready to discover Elio Altare and La Morra with me?

The Barolo Wine Revolution

Just 50 years ago very little people knew about Barolo, or Nebbiolo as a variety. People forget fast, and they will write in bold now that Barolo is ‘the king of wines, and wine of kings’ wherever you read about this wine (by the way, this phrase is used with any more or less serious wine from the Old World). All of a sudden 50 years ago Nebbiolo became one of the most important Italian varieties that ‘thrives in its’ native Piemonte where it actually comes from’ (that's the most common phrase you'll find about this grape variety nowadays).

Nebbiolo grape vine in spring in La Morra on Barolo vineyards
biodiversity and healthy grass cover on the vineyard is a better guarantee of an organic, sustainable, or whatever you want it to be, wine, than the icons on the label

Those were years if not starving, but almost.

Did god bless the Barolo DOCG finally with prosperity and someone dreamed at night the correct way of ‘cooking’ this wine? Nope. There were some people who did a tremendous work for making the whole region worldwide known today. Then: Those were years if not starving, but almost. No one wanted to date or marry a vigneron, children would go bird hunting to the woods to occasionally eat meat. People in the area were farmers, poor farmers, that had chicken to sell eggs, cows to sell milk and cheese, and orchards that were more profitable than vineyards. Just 50 years ago, people were riding horses and ploughing with ox here.

Barolo vineyards in La Morra with Nebbiolo vines in spring at early budbreak
Enjoying the peaceful mornings in La Morra

Today: Nowadays a hectare of Cannubi (a Grand Cru from Barolo) is 6 million EUR (in 2019 when I visited, so probably already higher!). Every girl dreams of marrying a Barolo winemaker. Visitors from all over the world are knocking the doors of the cellars day and night. It’s really beautiful now. All the hills are covered with vineyards, you see Nebbiolo to the horizon. The winemakers are not starving anymore, they don’t hunt birds in the wood to eat meat. Some became millionaires as they sold their now prosperous businesses. Some decided to stay small and keep investing their lifetime to preserve the heritage they got from their parents. The ones that fought a lot for today's fame.

Nebbiolo vineyards in La Morra in spring with net protection against hail
endless Nebbiolo vineyards

But what happe