Home TravelsItaly BAROLO, PIEDMONT, ITALY – WHERE WINE IS KING

BAROLO, PIEDMONT, ITALY – WHERE WINE IS KING

24 minutes read

The sun is setting somewhere on Bricco delle Viole, or San Pietro, or Fossati or … these are all vineyard terroirs. I’m not sure which one exactly it is, but this land is precicely sliced into small pieces that rarely belong to the same owner or wine cellar. And we are standing on the terrace of the Locanda Carretta in Cannubi restaurant , at the top of the Cannubi hill. We are just above the vineyards of the Tenuta Carretta winery. A wonderful place to try their best Barolo Cannubi Riserva DOCG Rag wines for the first time. Franco Miroglio .  It starts raining, it is spring, our shoes are muddy, covered with terroir.

Cannubi, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Cannubi, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy

Tenuta Carretta is a part of the Terre Miroglio family of wineries. A member of the family is also Edoardo Miroglio wine cellar in Elenovo, southeast Bulgaria. Tenuta Carretta is a winery with a long hostory, dating back to 1467. In this article we will tell you about their Barolo and Barolo Riserva. About the cellar in Piemonte you can read more in this article: FROM 1467 TO THE BUBBLES OF PIEDMONT: TENUTA CARRETTA WINERY, WRITING HISTORY.

Barolo wine

I wanted to start the story of Barolo with a few words about the castle, the village and the families that lived here. But Barolo is a place to spend time with wine. DOCG Barolo wines are among Italy’s most expensive and famous wines. Barolo was a favorite of kings and queens and was one of the loved wines of the Savoy dynasty that ruled the region in the 18th century. Hence its nickname: “wine for kings and king of wines ( re dei vini e vino dei re )”.

Barolo and the castle
Barolo and the castle

How to understand the regions of Piedmont and Barolo

Piedmont is a region in northwestern Italy, extremely popular for its wines. It is the region with the most DOCG appellations (18) and the same number of DOC appellations as  Tuscany, both regions having 41. Interestingly, there is no IGT in Piedmont, which was a little odd for us.

Barolo Canubi DOCG tasting at Tenuta Carretta's tasting room
Barolo Canubi DOCG tasting at Tenuta Carretta’s tasting room

DOCG is an abbreviation used in Italian wine industgry and stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita”. This is the highest classification for wine in Italy and guarantees high quality and requires strict compliance with particular rules for wine production, vine growing, etc.

In the cellar of Tenuta Carretta
In the cellar of Tenuta Carretta

DOC is an abbreviation that stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata” and is the second step in Italian wine classification. It also guarantees high quality wine by setting regional and production rules for its production, but is not as strict as DOCG

A Nebbiolo vine, the grape from which Barolo wine is made
A spoonful of Nebbiolo, the grape from which Barolo wine is made

Mimi and a wonderful Barolo Canubi Reserve DOCG 2015.
Mimi and a wonderful Barolo Canubi Reserve DOCG 2015.

The Italian classification of wines is very interesting, extremely complicated, but strict and if one digs deeper, it is very useful. For example, if a wine is DOCG, this tells us that the wine has been made according to specific standards that are very strict. They are usually related to the location of the vineyard, the methods of vine growing, the yield, the grape varieties used, alcohol content, ageing (in vessel, barrel, bottle). The wine is then sent to a committee for approval before it receives the DOCG label.

Two wines from one evening, one day after my birthday in Rome at the wine bar Rimesa Roscioli . Barolo DOCG Riserva San Bernardo – San Bernardo is an area next to Serralunga d’Alba

DOCG Barolo – what does it mean?

Barolo can only be a wine made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes . The nebbiolo can only come from 11 villages in southern Piedmont. And the vineyards of these villages are divided into 181 “Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive” – ​​”Additional geographical specification”. Another requirement for the vineyard is that it has an altitude between 170m and 540m. The alcohol content should be over 13%. Barolo must be aged for 38 months, of which 18 months in barrel. I.e. if 2023 you are in Barolo, the youngest DOCG Barolo you can drink is the 2019 vintage.

View of the Barolo vineyards
View of the Barolo vineyards

If you are looking for a Barolo Reserva, it must be aged for a minimum of 62 months, of which 18 in barrel. I.e. in 2023 the youngest Barolo Reserve will be vintage 2017.

In Barolo, the vineyards are not irrigated artificially, so everything depends on nature
In Barolo, the vineyards are not irrigated artificially, so everything depends on nature

Tip: While flipping through Gambero Rosso (the Italian wine and food guide) I noticed that according to them one of the best vintages in Barolo was 2016. So I would advise you to look for it. We also loved 2015.

Barolo Canubi and the Nebbiolo vineyards
Barolo Canubi and the Nebbiolo vineyards

More details about Barolo wine

Barolo is not a wine you can describe from a single sip. It is like a work of art. First you’ll think about the year the grapes were grown and picked. Also, you can remember whether it was sunny, cold, rainy. You will feel all this in the bottle. Then you will think about aromas, tastes, color. You will think if it has aged enough or if it could have more. In general, Barolo needs to be thought about and given time.

The UNESCO World Heritage - "Piedmont Vineyards: Lange-Roero and Monferrato"
The UNESCO World Heritage – “Piedmont Vineyards: Lange-Roero and Monferrato”

Barolo is different on every hill, that’s why there are 181 “Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive”, it’s extremely interesting when you see the map with all the massifs with their names. And each place has many owners. They are noted on the many plates between the rows.

Cannubi is visible from the castle in Barolo when you look north.. Here am I and behind me is Cannubi.
Cannubi is visible from the castle in Barolo when you look north.. Here am I and behind me is Cannubi.

Our story began with Cannubi, one of these MeGAs. Cannubi is visible from the castle in Barolo when you look north. We are on Canubi, right at the top, together with Señor Giovanni Minetti, CEO of the Tenuta Carretta winery. He is an extremely dignified, smiling and easy-going Italian from the region. He has certainly seen a lot of life and wine in Piedmont. He shares his thoughts about food and wine, but also about family and people.

Mr. Minetti’s favorite wine is Barolo Cannubi . But today we will be drinking Barolo Cannubi Riserva (2014, 2015 and 2016). We are next to the amazing restauant  Right Locanda Carretta in Cannubi, which we definitely recommend. The story of Cannubi is quite long. The oldest known bottle is labeled “Cannubi 1752”. Today Cannubi is one of Barolo’s most prestigious vineyards and it is a real honor to have a wine from Cannubi.

Let’s go back to Barolo…

Barolo – the village

Let’s start from the beginning, a few hours earlier, when we stopped in the parking lot of Barolo. Barolo is a village (comune) with only 639 inhabitants, a castle, several churches, a wine museum, wine bars, several restaurants (but I recommend you find a restaurant in the vineyards) and several houses. A very tiny village, you can walk around it in 15 minutes, and in the high season the parking lot is bigger than the village.

Barolo is in the Piedmont region, in the province of Cuneo. This is Northern Italy. Barolo is located on a small plateau and the Langhe hills rise amphitheatrically around it. All these hills covered with vineyards are on the UNESCO World Heritage List – “Piedmont Vineyards: Lange-Roero and Monferrato”. From all sides of Barolo you can see hills covered with vineyards, but we climb from the foot of the village, up to the castle, to enjoy the walk through Barolo. Since 1250 Barolo was owned by the Falletti family, who were part of the banking families of Asti (Casane Astigiane) in the Middle Ages, whose castles numbered up to 50 in some periods. At the end of the 17th century, Barolo became part of the possessions of the Savoy dynasty. Then it became a marquisate (Marchesato), ruled by only three marquises.

Today, the castle houses the "Museum of Wine" - WiMu.
Today, the castle houses the “Museum of Wine” – WiMu.

Juliette Colbert (Giulia di Barolo) is known as the Venerable Marchesa Giulia di Barolo (Italian: Venerabile Marchesa Giulia di Barolo), who created and bequeathed her entire estate to the Barolo Charitable Foundation (Opera Pia Barolo). Then the Castle of Barolo was transformed to Barolo College to enable poor children from the region to study. The college functioned until 1958. In 1970 it was purchased by the municipality of Barolo.

Today, the castle houses the “Museum of Wine” – WiMu. Its cellars host the Regional Enoteca of Barolo (l’Enoteca Regionale del Barolo).

In Barolo you can also visit the Corkscrew Museum (Museo dei Cavatappi).
In Barolo you can also visit the Corkscrew Museum (Museo dei Cavatappi).

As I advised you, it is best to choose a restaurant in the surrounding vineyards, drink Barolo from the same vineyard and enjoy all the emotion called Barolo.

Locanda Carretta in Cannubi – the food of Piedmont

Locanda Carretta in Cannubi is another part of the Miroglio Group. In fact, it was extremely nice to visit all the places associated with the Miroglio family. We know their attitude towards quality products from Bulgaria and it was very interesting to see their high standards in Italy as well. But the story here will be about the food:

Locanda Carretta in Cannubi – food in Piedmont
Locanda Carretta in Cannubi – food in Piedmont

It wasn’t until the third day of our Piedmont tour that our hosts dared to offer us Carne Cruda. In other words, raw meat. It is a very popular dish among locals. It’s usually served as finely chopped or minced raw beef tenderloin, similar to tartare, but actually seasoned with just salt and a tiny bit of olive oil. It was served to us in the company of a Russian salad, but with tuna instead of ham. We really liked the raw meat, super fresh and tender. We love to pair it with white wines, here we chose Tenuta Carretta’s great Riesling, of which this is only the second vintage. Not everyone in the company dared to try the raw meat, but we taste everything. Moreover, all locals we talked to seemed perfectly happy and healthy although they regularly eat Carne Cruda.

Carne Cruda – in other words, raw meat
Carne Cruda – in other words, raw meat
Tenuta Carretta's great Riesling
Tenuta Carretta’s great Riesling

Then we ate pasta with ragu, particularly the local variety – agnolotti del plin. They are shaped like small ravioli, pinched at the edges with a small fold. Stuffed with beef, lamb or other meat, and sometimes with cheese. Then we proceded with the heavy artilery of wine – the Barolo Cannubi Riserva, comparing the 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages. More on them in a moment.

Pasta with ragout - the traditional agnolotti del plin
Pasta with ragout – the traditional agnolotti del plin

Beef is pretty loved here and the main course was beef steak with a Barolo wine sauce. One of the most tender and tempting steaks we’ve tried. And as the local taste dictates, and we support, the meat is roasted very lightly to preserve all its tenderness and charm from the inside. By this time we are already enjoying three vintages of Barolo Canubi Reserva at the same time and, for obvious reasons, our memories are fading.

Beef steak with Barolo wine sauce
Beef steak with Barolo wine sauce
Panna cotta with strawberry tartare, meringue and white chocolate popcorn
Panna cotta with strawberry tartare, meringue and white chocolate popcorn

Still, we can’t forget the dessert – an amazing panna cotta with strawberry tartare, meringue and white chocolate popcorn. Mimi is a great panna cotta fan and rated it very highly.

Barolo Cannubi – the king of wines

Barolo Cannubi is a truly great wine and worth the wait. The Tenuta Carreta winery has two vineyards on the Canubi hill. One of them is around 15-year-old vines and east exposure, and the other one has old vines and west exposure. The first harvest of it dates back to 1961.

The first Barolo Cannubi we are introduced to is the 2016 vintage. It is still young for Barolo, but immediately captivates us. With aromas of olive, fruit, some eucalyptus and a dense nutty taste with velvety tannins and a slight spiciness. We fall in love instantly. And what awaits us with the older vintages?!

Barolo Cannubi
Barolo Cannubi

It was a priceless chance to taste these wines. 2015 was hotter and the wine is more expressive, still with more lush tannins, black tea and earth on the palate. Getting to know it is a shock, you might not realize it from the first sip, but this is Barolo, after all. Not a wine you start with. Mr. Minetti himself has indicated that this is a food wine, and we have all reasons to believe him.

Vertical tasting of Barolo Cannubi
Vertical tasting of Barolo Cannubi

2014 was a specific year, very rainy and only Barolo Cannubi Riserva was produced in it. The 2013 vintage smells of tobacco, tea, with slightly marmalade notes. Long body with an even longer fruity aftertaste. A great wine and despite its ten years, it can age and bloom more.

2012 turns out to be extremely exciting and atypical with its aromas of herbs, mint, ozone. Mimi’s favorite.

The 2011 is in absolute top form, a wine ready to tell you long stories

Barolo Cannubi Riserva – 2014, 2015, 2016

After this performance, the meeting with the reserves from Cannubi is even more exciting. We are tasting 2014, 2015 and 2016. 2016 is still fruitful and young, but it will become great. The year is one of the most successful for Italian wines. The 2014 is now ready to drink, although by Barolo standards it is almost young. And 2015 is our favorite and takes us to colorful worlds of herbs, mushrooms, forest, light fruits. An aftertaste that stays very, very long. And it reminds us of prune jam, coffee, eucalyptus.

Tenuta Carretta's Barolo Cannubi Riserva
Tenuta Carretta’s Barolo Cannubi Riserva

Saying goodbye to Cannubi is hard. It’s always a good idea to take a piece of this place home, for example a bottle. And Tenuta Carretta’s Barolo Cannubi Riserva bottles are even more special. On the labels of the different vintages you will notice a line with a colored pattern. It turned out to be the best-selling pattern of the Edoardo Miroglio textile factories in the vintage year. And every bottle comes with a gift – a scarf with the same pattern. Special wines deserve special treatment.

Read the article dedicated to Tenuta Carretta winery in Piedmont: FROM 1467 TO THE BUBBLES OF PIEDMONT: TENUTA CARRETTA WINERY, WRITING HISTORY

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