Last week I focused on Amarone, one of the great wines of Valpolicella, Italy. This week it’s time to spotlight another Italian classic, Barolo. Named after a village in northwest Italy in the region of Piedmont, Barolo is made entirely from the Nebbiolo grape.
Nebbiolo means, “little fog” in Italian. This is appropriate because in Piedmont (“foot of the mountains” in Italian), the vineyards are often shrouded in fog at harvest time, but the sun can burn through most of the fog to ripen the fruit.
Recently, I was the guest for a Barolo dinner at Autostrada on West Pender with the owner of a famous family owned winery, Fiorenxo Dogliani. His winery is Beni di Batasiolo and it's the largest family producer of Barolo in Piedmont.
Purchased by the Dogliani family in I978, it could not be given the family name because it’s also the name of a local DOC region: Dolcetto di Dogliani. Acting as Diorenxo’s translator, Batasiolo’s North American Sales Director, Ricardo March explained:
“At that time in 1978, you change the name of the winery, or you change the name of the town. The town has been there for more than 2000 years. So you change the name of the winery.”
The changed name is Beni di Batasiolo. Beni is Piedmontese for a farmhouse with vineyards.
Barolos are complex wines displaying aromas of red fruit, flowers, tar and licorice. They also have plenty of acid and tannins and high alcohol, which allows them to age.
The first Barolo we tasted was the Batasiolo 2010 Barolo Riserva ($42.99 Spec; available at Everything Wines and by ordering from the agency, Charton Hobbs). This was aged in Slovenian oak for 30 months followed by aging in stainless steel.
It’s a deep garnet red colour with terra cotta edges and is ready to drink after 8 years. Expect earthy cherry fruit with some floral, leather, tobacco and licorice notes. The Riserva is backed up by a high alcohol content and a balanced union of tannins and crispness.
Next was the first of Barolo crus, single vineyard wines that vary in elevation, and soil type and represent the best that the winery produces. The 2009 Batasiolo Barolo Boscareto ($106.99; available this fall) is a wine with great structure and charm. It has the garnet colour and orange rim like the Riserva, and reveals aromas of sweet spice, toast, and leather along with hints of fruit, rose and violet. There is still crisp acidity despite the aging and moderate tannins to give it body.
The second cru I enjoyed was the 2011 Batasiolo Barola Briccolina ($109.99; 2010 available this fall). The Wine Enthusiast gave this wine, 93 out of 100 points. “Menthol, tobacco, dark berry, vanilla, a whiff of oak and a hint of cured meat lead the nose on this structured, elegant wine. The delicious palate offers succulent wild cherry, mint, espresso, coconut and white pepper. Fresh acidity and firm, ultra-fine tannins balance it out and promise mid-term aging potential.”
Finally, there was the 2010 Barolo Cerequio ($94.99; 2016, 2007, and 2009 available this fall). Aged in the traditional Slavonian oak, the nose displays balsamic aromas along with vegetables, flowers, and spices that make this wine very recognizable. There are also traces of incense, wax tobacco, and coffee. A full bodied, elegant and harmonious wine.
You can purchase a ‘young’ 2014 entry level Batasiolo Barolo ($37.99 in government stores), which earned 91 points from the Wine Spectator. “An elegant, supple style, displaying cherry, currant, licorice, tobacco and tar flavors, matched to a slim profile. Has fine balance and length. Best from 2020 through 2035.”
Barolos are ideal partners with pappardelle with venison and porcini, a beef ragu and truffles, beef braised in Barolo with mushrooms, or penne with duck confit.