I'm very pragmatic when choosing a winery to visit. Especially when it comes to Barolo DOCG - a region so rich in outstanding wine and inspiring producers. Reading the estate's history, checking their labels and finding out as much as possible about their vinification techniques. Then selecting the TOP 5 Barolo wineries to visit and leaving one or two only. The best of all. In Barolo I ended up going to two places - and one of them is Vietti.
History of Barolo Wine Region
Apparently Barolo used to be a sweet wine in the very beginning of its' history. Even today Piemonte is not such a warm place, while Nebbiolo is known to be a late ripening gape. Therefore, if they harvested end of October, the temperatures would go cold enough in November-December to stop the fermentation while there is still quite a lot of residual sugar in the wine.
Barolo was first fermented dry in mid 19th century. Thanks to the efforts of the last Marquise de Barolo - Giulia Falletti and Count of Cavour, Camillo Benso.
Then the history has a few question marks regarding who actually created the 'recipe' of fermenting the Barolo wine dry. It was either Oudart (a French enologist) or Staglieno (an Italian enologist).
Starting from that point Barolo was known as 'king of wines, wine of kings' as the dry style of it was appealing to many royals. Well, there have been outstanding wines at those times, drunk by royals, but what was the majority of Barolo? It was farmers wine. Vines were growing along with trees and orchards at every farmer's house. If Oudart or Staglieno did improve the hygiene and fermentation conditions for the royal cellar, farmers still kept their never washed centenary botti (large wood casks, 3 to 10 thousand liters), cow, sheep and hen lived right there at the 'cellar'.
But let me talk about the second wave of revolution in among Barolo wineries in my next post. You know, the 'Barolo Boys' story.
Climate, soil, varieties of Barolo DOCG
Generally, we can speak of two different soil formations in the Barolo DOCG zone - Tortonian and Serravallian. Serravalian is older and it is composed of sandstone and sand, thus less fertile. Sandy soils always help to generate more tannins in the grapes and in fact, vineyards situated at Monforte d'Alba, Serralunga d'Alba and Castiglione Falletto are more powerful, deep, have more structure and require more ageing time to be enjoyed (and softened).