Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Barolo and Barbaresco, What's the Difference?

Source: Wikipedia

Are Barolos and Barbarescos perceptibly different? Shouldn't the same grape (Nebbiolo), grown in appellations less than 20km apart, produce nearly indistinguishable wines? This Friday I once again seek to answer the question I posed more than two years ago - is there a defining difference between these wine regions?

Most books and web sites describe the wines made from the earlier-ripening (typically) Barbarescos as softer, elegant, more approachable. I like Bastianich/Lynch's comment in Vino Italiano, The Regional Wines of Italy:

Traditionally, Barbaresco was thought of as finer and more feminine than Barolo, the "queen" to Barolo's "king."

Most other writers feature a similar line of broad characterization - Barolos are heavier, more tannic, and require more cellar time to soften up, while Barbarescos are more approachable, perfumey, refined.

Of course, these comments are generalizations - with a plethora of producers working miniscule plots (not to mention different techniques in the winery) is it truly possible to define "Barolo-ish"? And will our small sample of '98 and '00 bottlings from Barolo and Barbaresco (four bottles) give us enough information to find that "sameness"? (Or will we simply drink a lot of wine)

I will let you know after Friday....

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