There is a level of comfort to be navigating with a GPS while driving through misty fog in the nebbiolo wine country of northwest Italy. Ever present are switch-back roads. We are surrounded by fog with no chance of seeing the alps. Its autumn and grapes are still on the vine while mist slows the final ripening of the grapes.
The area is a patchwork of vineyards, with castles and feudal towers, rolling hills with perfectly planted vines. Landscapes are blanketed in orange and yellow leaves.
Nebbia means fog in Italian…
So it’s obvious fog should be the root word of this grape variety. Yet, in Latin, nebbiolo is nebula. Take your pick. This grape is extremely regulated and there are only a few areas where the nebbiolo grape can be cultivated to meet the standards to produce Barolo wine.
taking a photo won’t be a problem since there is no perfect angle, or time of day —there is no sun.
Our destination is the village of Barolo, Piedmont region…
…part of the Unesco protected region. We are here to taste Barbaresco and Barolo wine. These two wines are 100% nebbiolo. I thought Barolo was my favorite, but after several wine tastings, Barbaresco (lighter, rich soil makes for less tannins) won me over. It’s easier to drink at a younger age, and less expensive.
The town is a tourist destination as identified by tour buses; no children in sight, others have purchased wine in hand. The town is spotless, small, and easily walked in less than an hour. The village has numerous tasting shops intermingled with lovely restaurants and souvenir shops. Unfortunately, we were too early for lunch.
We started by going to the wine museum which is located in a 1,000-year-old castle – Falletti Castle. A bit quirky; mixture of art, with rituals of drinking wine from all aspects of early life. It was too much input that my brain could not sort out, and all I wanted to do was to get to the basement —the wine cellar —Enoteca Regionale Del Barolo!
This was high-tech as the system functions by exchanging your license for an electronic card. The bottles line the wall in various categories: 2€ – 5€ or more, depending on your taste and pocket-book. Here are the eleven wines from the local towns from the DOCG (strict regulations) zones of the highest quality. When you return the card with payment, you get your license back.
The clerk serves as an advisor and explains the different varieties and vintages, and he relieves you of the normal pressure you experience at a wine shop. Now, we were fortified for visits to numerous tasting rooms in the village. Notice the price of the bottles for Barolo wine below.
One enoteca had a Corkscrew museum where other tastings can be enjoyed. I have always been intrigued by the term, “wine key” and how appropriate it is for unlocking the liquid treasure found in a bottle of wine.
Scattered wineries are spotted from the car with interesting architecture. How about this one!!
The village of Barolo is truly a must for wine lovers, visit this area and escape the crowds of Tuscany! November is a great time here as the red wines match the gastronomy change: hearty stews, truffle pasta, and hot soup!
In addition to this charming town, Bra and Alba are very close by to explore… with more great wine and fabulous food. I’ll have more on those two cities very soon.
And now…I have to search for the documentary “Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution.” This is the story of how Barolo wine became the best wine in the world.
TIP: Rent a car, have a designated driver – speed limit is enforced. Don’t forget to say, “Buon giorno” for good morning, and “arrivederci” which is a proper way to say goodbye.