Who are the best producers in Barolo & Barbaresco?

As of 2009, there were 948 wineries in Barolo & 426 wineries in Barbaresco alone - trying to find the best producers, requires a whole lot of time, of wine drinking, of talking to people & understanding of what makes a producer “good”. Oh, and you’d have to be a hard person to please as I have yet to come across a producer out there that doesn't have some serious skill.

Ultimately, finding the best producers in Barolo & Barbaresco comes down to personal choice;

So why don't you come take a day trip in the region & make your own list?

Until you get here, these are a few of our handpicked favourites, mixed with the the likes from 'Decanter' & 'The Atlas of Wines from Piedmont' - The Association of Italian Sommiliers. 

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Bruno Giacosa

It sometimes seems as though the wines flowered from the vineyard into the bottle without human intervention

Is a quote that aims to satisfy the traditional winemaking farm, initiated by Giacosa, a scrupulous professionist and profound expert of the Langhe land. His wines are extensive from Barbaresco from various sights, Nieve*where he is considered a genius, Barolo (mostly Serralunga) & include Arneis & Spumante.

It is from Rocche & Falletto of Serralunga, Asili & Rabaja of Barbaresco and Santo Stefano of Nieve, that come the best labels of Giacosa, among the most authentic delineations of the Nebbiolo grape.

Gaja

If you have heard about Barbaresco, it is highly probable you have heard about Gaja. Founded in 1859 by the father of the now owner and wine superstar, Angelo Gaja, in the 19th century his wines were bottled & supplied to the Italian Army. It was his grandmother who instilled the idea that high quality equals high clientele & in return manifested high prices.

After a few trips to France, Angelo introduced some methodologies to Piedmont that his father highly opposed, such as green harvest, single vineyard harvest, malolactic fermentation the use of Barriques & even planted a few French Varieties. He believed that in order to build the reputation of Italian wine, he needed to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in his prime Nebbiolo vineyard to gains the world’s attention. It did.

Although ridiculed for his modernist approach, he was overlooked in that he still employed traditional methods. He is wise in his use of oak, by mixing barriques with the authentic Botti (10-100+ hL). Some of the biggest producers in Piedmont followed in his revolutional winemaking footsteps.

So what makes Gaja the perhaps the most prestigious in the international wine world?

Perhaps it is his sheer dedication to quality. Once he refused to sell 12,000 cases (1,100 hl) of 1984 Barbaresco under the Gaja label because the quality did not meet his standards.

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Elio Altare

But I distrust wines that are very tannic when young yet, we’re assured, will come round after cellaring. Sometimes they never do. But over time the results can be very similar. Wine is an interpretation of variety and soil. It’s like fillet steak. You can cook it rare or well done, but it’s still a fillet steak.

Says Elio, yet another leader in the modernist approach in Barolo, and the "godfather" in the Barolo Boys Movement.

It all began after his first trip to Burgundy in 1978 when he knew that the French were up to something, good; barriques, immaculately clean cellars, dropping bad fruit. He got home to infuriate his father as he chopped down the treasured, traditional Botti wine casks to make room for his new Barriques (and used the wood for the fire). Over 50 years ago, Piedmont was a poor place for farmers & their families, and the wasting of grapes was seen by that generation as a very disgraceful thing to do. Land in Barolo now sells for millions and millions of Euro's. Elio's courage played a huge part in this, but his father never came around. 

When his father died in 1985, Elio was tragically cut out of his will and had to start up on his own.

Bruno Rocca

Paradoxically, our goal is not to ‘make’ wine, but to guide its evolution to help it best express itself. Our land, not the producer, is inscribed on the wine.

One of our personal favourites is this 19th century family/farm run winery, that, with the help of the highly celebrated cru: Rabajà, was destined as a best producer for Barbaresco. It was due to the intuition and courage of Francesco Rocca (1907-1978) that the family moved from the centre of Barbaresco to the zone of Rabajà at its most southern point in 1958. The land in Rabajà had always been renowned for producing high quality grapes; in fact, they were sold at a significantly higher price than other Nebbiolo grapes from Barbaresco. Further proof of its quality comes from the fact that the community winery to which they sold their grapes in 1967 already bottled them separately under the label “Vineyards from southwest Rabajà.”

The first harvest that was bottled for wine under the family name was 1978, and years of fermentation and experimentation followed, with lots of passion and many challenges to overcome. These were the years during which the wines of the Langhe (Barbaresco in particular) enjoyed an incredible growth in international fame.

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Cadia Wines

A winery where you can breathe all the family’s passion

If you want the real, Piedmontese, family-run boutique wine experience (with hazelnuts, truffles & Italian hospitality)... Cadia is it.

Located in Verduno, surrounded by hills of ancient origin, the winery Cadia is the expression of passion and respect for the land. The owner Bruno works the land that has been handed down by generation to generation. For him, the biggest goal had been to open his own company in 1996. Today he keeps on facing challenges, with courage and determination; his wife Mariella always helps and supports him. The biggest developments in the characteristics of each vineyard, is due to his scrupulous care in every phase of the process, allowing to obtain excellent fine wines. The hill “Cadia” from which the company takes its name, is located on the ridge south-east, a great location for the production of wines of big quality. 

The bottles produced by Cadia are obtained exclusively by 12 hectares of vineyards that embrace this hill.

Pira E. & Figli Chiara Boschis

Barolo considered 'The King' is a tannic, high acid, full bodied, masculine wine, yet one of the most respected producers is a woman: Chiara Boschis, who broke into this male dominated industry in the 1990s. 

In the winery located in the heart of Barolo, Chiara has been adding her feminine touch to the King of wine, making it more luxurious and elegant for over 20 years. She has managed to marry the "extraordinary power of Barolo with approachability, enticing elegance & lush, intense aromas".

Her Cannubi alone merits a trip to Langhe!

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Please stay tuned as we continuously explore this marvellous region & add to this list accordingly.

Do you have any favourites or suggestions on the best producers in Barolo or Barbaresco? 

Please share in the comments below - we'd love to here what you've been up to!

 

by Chloe Cristallini

Scarlet & Hues Boutique Wine Experiences in Piedmont

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