Barbaresco or Barolo

As all you wine aficionados know, Novello (where we live) is in the Barolo zone; a group of 11 villages which is able to take its finest Nebbiolo grapes and turn them into Barolo, the “King of wines”.

Ten miles to the north is the Barbaresco zone. Here, these same Nebbiolo grapes make… wait for it… Barbaresco. 

Far smaller than Barolo, it consists of three main villages – Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso – and just under 2,000 acres of vineyards (compared to Barolo’s 3,100 acres).

Langhe fall colours

At the risk of being a traitor to my ‘zone’, I’ve noticed that whenever I’ve tried the two side-by-side, I tend to prefer Barbaresco. I’ve still not tried that many though, so in the name of science – and on the advice of the ever-knowledgable Italianna – we headed up to Neive last week to visit Cantina del Glicine.

Neive tasting sign

Our first port of call was the incredible cantina. Nearly 500 years old, it stretches right under the building, reaching a depth of up (or down) to nine metres underground and maintaining a constant temperature throughout the year. Small oak and chestnut casks filled with Barbaresco are slotted into every available alcove, as they have been for centuries. 

Glicine Cantina

Moving upstairs to the cosy tasting room, we settled in for what would be a long afternoon. Allegra’s family had travelled over from England (bringing with them a few essentials…Chocolate Digestives, Creme Eggs and Hot Cross Buns. We insist that every guest brings us something!) and joined us for the tasting. 

We began with a white wine, a Roero Arneis, before moving onto the reds. The first was a Dolcetto (my father-in-law’s favourite), which is an everyday, easy-drinking wine, good with lunch, a light dinner or even breakfast if you’re that way inclined. It’s definitely not sweet, despite it’s name, which means little sweet one.

This was followed by a Nebbiolo (which was ok), two Barberas (one of which was among the best Barberas I’ve tried so far), two Barbarescos (which were both very good) and three delicious Grappas. Even in tasting-sized servings, that’s a lot of wine, but with the help of some cheese and salami, we bravely soldiered on through!

Glicine tasting

I would be the world’s worst wine reviewer as I have a knack of really enjoying each wine until the next one comes along, at which point, this new one is the best I’ve ever tasted and the previous glass is completely forgotten about. I should probably start taking notes… Anyway, I was particularly taken by the Barbera La Sconsolata and the Barbaresco Curra. I know this because I have a few bottles of each of them sitting in the kitchen.

Neive tasting bottles

So to the results of my not very scientific experiment into whether Barbaresco is better than Barolo… erm, from my huge sample of one winery, in which I only tried Barbaresco, it’s hard to say. Its good, and possibly more approachable than Barolo for a casual wine drinker like me, but sadly I think I’ll have to try a lot of more of both of them before I can draw any real conclusions. It’s a tough life…

Neive tasting cantina

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22 responses to “Barbaresco or Barolo

  1. “I would be the world’s worst wine reviewer as I have a knack of really enjoying each wine until the next one comes along, at which point, this new one is the best I’ve ever tasted and the previous glass is completely forgotten about. I should probably start taking notes” THIS IS ME! Great post!

  2. I am really enjoying reading all your posts, the ones about when you moved and these more recent ones!! Keep up the good work! Incidentally, I am a teacher (now retired) from the International School Milan and well remember Allegra. I was a good friend of Hilary and we worked together. Wishing you both every success in you venture…arrivederci alla prossima volta!

    • Hi Mariam, thanks so much for your message. Allegra remembers you from ISM and sends her best wishes! We were talking with her father about her school days just last week…

  3. Next time you are in Neive and fancy a good meal, please try(if you don’t know it) La Luna nel Pozzo.
    Owned by a lovely man who used to be a Doctor.
    His wife does the cooking.

  4. Mmm, what a great way to spend an afternoon – especially with Creme eggs and hot cross buns for later! With my name, I always go for the Barberas 🙂

  5. I am of the opinion that Barbaresco is a lovely wine, more feminine and elegant than Barolo, and in general I prefer to drink Barbaresco. That being said, there will be that occasional Barolo that will just knock your socks off in a way no Barbaresco ever will. Nice blog. Cheers!

    • Couldn’t agree more… Barolo is an incredible wine, but for me Barbaresco is usually just a bit more enjoyable. I’m always getting teased for liking the ‘girly wine’! 🙂

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