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Barbaresco and Barolo

There are about 700 hectares of vineyards in Barbaresco, less than half of those in neighbouring Barolo which has perhaps 1,800.  For both Barbaresco and Barolo the wines are 100% Nebbiolo grown on the same marl (chalk and clay) soils within the Langhe hills.  The influence of the Tanaro river is very pronounced, particularly responsible for the famous fog or mist that so often enshrouds the hillside vineyards, especially around vintage time.barbaresco.jpg

Until 1894 Barbaresco did not even exist, at least not as an officially recognised wine style, the wines all being sold as Barolo.  Today there are a host of single-vineyard designations, or crus, the best of which includes Santo Stefano, Sori Tilden, Sori San Lorenzo, Asili, Martinenga and many others.

Likewise Barolo has a host of specially-designated sites that have proven distinctive and superior over the years.  Barolo's best include Brunate, Cannubi, Cerequio, Rocche, Bussia and Cerretta amongst many outstanding sites.

serralunga.jpgWinemaking and the ageing of the wines prior to release is diverse and has changed markedly for many over recent years.  Some producers use only old, large, neutral oak 'botti' (foudres), while others emply new, small French oak barriques exclusively.  Many use a combination of both, and also experiement with other oak vessels using Slovenian, Slovakian, Georgian and other types of oak.  Fermentation times vary considerably between makers, likewisae cask ageing.  Ageing requirements dictate that Barbaresco must be aged in cask (be it barrique, botti or any other sized vessel) for a minimum of one year and two years for Barolo, followed by at least a further year in bottle for each.  Wines designated 'Riserva' must be aged for a total of five years following vintage prior to release.

There are today a range of styles, mainly through varying winemaking techniques, and wines and producers are often classified as being 'modern' or 'traditional'.  In reality, such a distinction is overly simplistic, as technologies and knowledge have increased greatly over the past few decades, and the lines between the two camps or styles have become blurred.

Great Barbaresco and Barolo positively demand food, and ideally, decent bottle-age.  Nebbiolo being a high acid, high tannin grape variety lends itself to producing wines that have hauntingly beautiful, often ethereal aromatics that develop astonishing complexity with age.  They are unquestionably two of the world's greatest wines, and should be in every serious collection.

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