Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Welcome to our big Barolo wine test 2021. Here we present all the Barolo wines we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best Barolo wine for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a Barolo wine.




Summary

  • Barolo wine is a very high quality red wine.
  • Barolo wine is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes. It is called the "king of wines".
  • Barolo wine is available in different price ranges

The Best Barolo Wine: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying Barolo wine

What is the difference between Barolo wines from different vintages?

The quality and price of Barolo wine differs from vintage to vintage. There are many reasons for this.

Barolo is a high-quality red wine from the Piedmont region. (Image source: unsplash.com / Kym Ellis)

The weather in the area where the grapes are grown is particularly decisive. Depending on how warm or cool it was and whether there was a lot of sun or rain, the taste of the Nebbiolo grapes varies.

Consequently, the taste of the wine also changes.

When it comes to Barolo wines, experts have been talking about top wines for decades.

With the exception of a few vintages - 2002 hailstorms severely affected the grapes, 2003 the extreme heat - the winegrowers produced excellent wines.

2006, 2008 and 2010 were rather cooler vintages. These Barolo wines have a rather high acidity and are tannic (tart).

In their youth, they are rather inaccessible - i.e. not so easy to drink. They develop their full aroma only after longer storage. Barolo wines from these vintages are extremely long-lived.

2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012, on the other hand, were warmer to hot vintages. These Barolo wines are already very accessible in their youth, so they are easy to drink and tend to have less acidity and tannin. They are characterised as elegant and tasty.

2013 was a very good year for Barolo wine. Experts speak of an extremely good quality wine with a lot of character.

2014, on the other hand, was a bad year. It was very cool with a lot of rain and too little sun for the Nebbiolo grapes. In addition, there was hail damage in the summer. Some vintners could not harvest enough grapes for the Barolo wine.

2015 was again a very good year for Barolo wine. It was warm and there were many grapes. Barolo wines of this vintage have a higher sugar content.

The omens are also good for Barolo wines of the 2016 vintage. Experts expect a wine that has a good balance between sugar, acidity and tannin.

What does Barolo wine cost?

Barolo wine is a high-quality wine that can only be grown and produced in a specific region of Italy.

Depending on the quality, type and age of the Barolo wine, the price varies.

Barolo wine is available from the mid-price segment. However, there are also many bottles that are very highly priced. Individual bottles of special vintages can cost well over 100€.

Barolo wines are also available at discounters for around 10€. However, these wines are usually very young and not yet very pleasant to drink. But there are also quite passable wines here.

Type of Barolo wine price
Barolo DOCG, medium price segment approx. 25€/0,75l
Barolo DOCG, higher price segment approx. 55€/0,75l
Barolo DOCG Riserva approx. 100€/0,75l
Barolo Chinato approx. 35€/0,75l

What are the alternatives to Barolo wine?

As an alternative to Barolo wine, you can buy many other red wines. If you want to buy a wine that tastes similar to Barolo wine, you should go for a heavy, tannic red wine.

Many Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or French red wines are suitable for this purpose.

Barbaresco, for example, is made from the same grape variety (Nebbiolo) as Barolo. Nevertheless, there are differences: Barbaresco is softer and less tannic than Barolo. Experts describe it as "more feminine".

Dolcetto is a somewhat sweeter alternative to Barolo. It is considered an "everyday wine" in some regions of Italy. The grapes of Dolcetto often grow on the same vineyards as those of Barolo.

Dolcetto is easier to digest than Barolo. It is sweeter, less heavy, less tannic and has less acidity.

Other Italian alternatives are, for example:

  • Chianti (Classico) - balanced, fruity, slightly tart
  • Amarone - strong, dark, much aroma, high sugar and alcohol content
  • Ruché - dry, aromatic, tannic, fruity

French alternatives are e.g.:

  • Beaujolais Primeur
  • Rioja

If you want to buy a Barolo wine alternative for cooking, you can use Port or the Italian Bardolino. These wines are suitable as Barolo alternatives for braised beef.

Decision: What types of Barolo wine are there and which one is right for you?

There are four different types of Barolo wine to choose from:

  • DOCG
  • DOCG Riserva
  • Chinato

In the following section we would like to make your decision easier.

What distinguishes Barolo DOCG and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Barolo DOCG is the classic Barolo. It has a long tradition in the Piedmont region and is one of the highest quality and best red wines in Italy.

Barolo wines with the DOCG label are certified wines of the highest quality level.

This type of wine is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes. The grapes may only be grown in DOCG-certified areas.

Barolo DOCG is a type of wine that must mature for a long time. It must be stored for at least 38 months. However, many winemakers store it for around four years before selling it.

In terms of taste, Barolo DOCG is a rather heavy, dry and characteristic red wine.

Most Barolo wines have a higher acidity and tannin content, especially wines from cooler vintages.

However, there are also Barolo wines that have more sweetness, especially those from warmer and sunny vintages.

Barolo DOCG has a garnet red colour. (Image source: pixabay.com / Wolfgang Claussen)

The colour of Barolo DOCG is garnet red, i.e. rather light. Its smell is intense. Barolo has a relatively high alcohol content of around 12.5% vol.

In contrast to the other Barolo varieties, Barolo DOCG bottles are usually available from the mid-price segment.

If you want to buy a characteristic and heavy red wine of good quality, Barolo DOCG is a good choice.

Advantages
  • Characteristic red wine
  • High quality due to DOCG certification
  • Available in the medium price segment
Disadvantages
  • Sometimes rather tart and acidic
  • Heavy wine

What distinguishes Barolo DOCG Riserva and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The grapes for Barolo DOCG Riserva, like those for Barolo DOCG, are cultivated and processed only in certified growing areas. The grape variety used is also 100% Nebbiolo.

The Barolo Riserva, like the Barolo DOCG, has the DOCG label, which also indicates the high quality level.

In contrast to the normal Barolo wine, however, the Barolo Riserva must be stored much longer. Its storage time is at least 62 months. Many winemakers also store Barolo Riserva for longer, often up to ten years.

The longer storage makes the wine more accessible. It matures in the additional months and becomes more digestible.

This also has an effect on the taste of the wine. Barolo Riserva wines lose their high tannin content the longer they are stored. As a result, they lose their tart flavour to a certain extent.

Due to the longer storage of the wine, the Barolo Riserva is also more expensive than the normal Barolo DOCG. Prices from one hundred euros upwards are not uncommon.

If you want to buy an excellent heavy red wine that is not as tart and acidic as the Barolo DOCG, the Barolo Riserva is a good choice.

However, the Barolo Riserva is quite a bit more expensive than the regular Barolo. For good wine connoisseurs, however, the high price can be worth it.

Advantages
  • Very high quality
  • DOCG certification
  • Milder taste than the Barolo DOCG
  • Many aromas
Disadvantages
  • High price
  • Long storage time

What distinguishes Barolo Chinato and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Barolo Chinato is a flavoured version of the original Barolo wine.

Barolo Chinato is made from a Barolo wine to which a mixture of herbs has been added.

Thus, this wine also consists of 100% Nebbiolo grapes. The herb mixture that is added varies from winemaker to winemaker. However, it is usually a mixture with many bitter aromas.

The spice component in Barolo Chinato is always cinchona bark. In addition, there are some other spices, e.g. cardamom, bitter orange peel, cloves, laurels or cinnamon. However, the mixture varies.

Barolo Chinato also has a higher sugar content than Barolo DOCG and Barolo DOCG Riserva. It also has a higher alcohol content, around 16% vol. This is achieved by fortification, the addition of pure alcohol.

The taste of Barolo Chinato is sweetish-bitter. Through the spice mixture, however, it has not lost its characteristic Barolo taste.

The Barolo Chinato is particularly suitable as an aperitif or digestif.

For the Barolo Chinato, a longer-aged Barolo DOCG is often used, sometimes also a Barolo DOCG Riserva. After the spice mixture has been added, the wine is aged again for a few months before it is sold.

Not very many bottles of Barolo Chinato are produced each year. Nevertheless, this wine is available in the medium price segment.

If you like aromatic wines and still appreciate a good red wine, Barolo Chinato is a good choice.

Advantages
  • Many aromas due to the spice mixture
  • Sweeter than the normal Barolo wine
  • Suitable as an aperitif or digestif
  • Available in the medium price segment
Disadvantages
  • The spice blend can be quite bitter
  • Higher alcohol content
  • Only a few bottles available per year

Buying criteria: Use these criteria to compare and rate Barolo wines

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate Barolo wines.

In summary, these are:

  • Growing region
  • Certification and labelling
  • Vintage
  • Price

In the following paragraphs we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Production area

Municipalities that lie entirely within the Barolo DOCG area are:

  • Barolo
  • Castiglione Falletto
  • Serralunga d'Alba

Municipalities that are partly in the certified area are:

  • La Morra
  • Montforte d'Alba
  • Roddi
  • Verduno
  • Cherasco
  • Diano d'Alba
  • Novello
  • Grinzane Cavour

Only Barolo wines from these eleven communes are allowed to bear the name. When buying Barolo wine, you can make sure that the wine comes from one of these growing areas.

Barolo wine comes from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. Only wine that comes from a Barolo DOCG region can be called Barolo DOCG.

The taste of Barolo wine varies depending on the growing region. This is mainly due to the soil conditions in which the Nebbiolo grapes grow.

The Italian municipality of Barolo is the original home of the wine of the same name. It is still grown there today. (Image source: pixabay.com / Edo Lilli)

There are basically two types of soil on which the Nebbiolo grapes for Barolo are grown: on the one hand, calcareous marl (e.g. in La Morra), on the other hand, soil with a high sandstone content (e.g. in Serralunga).

If you prefer a rather mild Barolo, you should go for one from La Morra. If you prefer a more acidic wine, go for one from Serralunga d'Alba. Somewhat more tart Barolo comes from Montforte d'Alba.

Certification and labelling

The DOCG label indicates the controlled origin of the wine. It is the certification of the highest quality level.

Barolo wines with this certification were also bottled directly at the production site. According to the labelling guidelines, they may not have been bottled elsewhere.

You will usually find the DOCG label on a banderole on the neck of the bottle. You will usually also find a label on the wine.

When you buy Barolo wine, you should always look for this certification. It guarantees that it is an original Barolo wine from Piedmont. It also guarantees that the area of cultivation has been checked.

Vintage

You can also compare Barolo wines by their vintage. The wines of the different vintages differ from each other. This is mainly due to the weather conditions.

Barolo wines from cool and rainy vintages tend to be more tart and acidic. If you prefer such a wine, you should go for a Barolo from 2008, 2010 or 2014, for example.

Barolo wines from warm or hot and sunny vintages are sweeter. If you prefer such a Barolo wine, you should buy a Barolo from the vintages 2009, 2011 or 2013.

Price

The price of the wine can also be decisive for your decision.

The wine is available in a wide price range. You can buy cheaper Barolo wines from around €25. Expensive bottles can cost several hundred euros.

If you buy Barolo for cooking, for example for braised meat, you can go for a cheaper product.

If you want to drink the wine, you can also treat yourself to a more expensive bottle. More expensive Barolo wines are usually associated with longer storage and thus higher quality.

Facts worth knowing about Barolo wine

What does Barolo wine go with?

Barolo wine, especially Barolo DOCG and Barolo DOCG Riserva, harmonises very well with red meat. It goes perfectly with beef, game or duck.

You can also drink the wine together with cheese.

Barolo Chinato is more suitable as an aperitif or digestif. This aromatic wine goes very well with chocolaty desserts. You can also enjoy Barolo Chinato with hazelnut biscuits or vanilla ice cream.

Can I use Barolo wine for cooking or sauces?

Yes, you can use Barolo wine for cooking and sauces. A popular recipe with Barolo wine is braised beef.

The beef is braised in a Barolo wine sauce. You can use Barolo DOCG for this. This gives the meat and the sauce a special flavour.

You can use Barolo wine to prepare red wine risotto. You can also use Barolo wine for various sauces.

Can Barolo wine be kept for a long time and what is the best way to store it?

Since Barolo contains a relatively high amount of acid and tannin, this red wine can be kept for quite a long time compared to other wines. You can store it for several years or even decades.

Barolo wines are very long-lived. They also continue to mature in the bottle.

Especially wines from cooler vintages have a long shelf life. They mature over time and can thus become a little more accessible.

Barolo Riserva and Barolo Chinato also have a long shelf life.

However, it is important to store them correctly. You should store the wine in a cool place, between 7 and 18 degrees Celsius would be optimal. It is best to store the wine at 12 to 13 degrees Celsius.

However, it is especially important that you pay attention to a constant temperature, you should avoid temperature fluctuations.

However, you should never freeze the wine. This is not only bad for the ripening of the wine, but also for the bottle. It can even blow the cork out of the bottle.

Barolo wine should be stored in a dark place on a wine rack. Too much UV radiation can cause the wine to ripen too quickly.

If the Barolo wine has a natural cork, it is best to store it lying down. This prevents the cork from drying out. If the wine has a different closure, e.g. a screw cap, you can also store it standing up.

The best place to store it would be in the cellar. There it is relatively constantly cool, not too bright and usually not too humid.

You should not store the wine in the kitchen for a long time. It is too warm and too bright for the wine.

Factor Optimum
Temperature 12 to 13 degrees Celsius
Light Avoid, better store in the dark
Humidity 50 to 80%
Standing or lying With cork stopper lying

Does storage affect the taste of the wine?

Yes, if you store Barolo wine for a long time after purchase, the taste of the wine may change slightly.

The wine matures in the bottle and becomes more accessible. The Barolo wine loses some of its strong acidity and high tannin content.

Is it true that Barolo wine was the "wine of kings"?

The history of Barolo wine goes back a long time. The name Barolo first appeared at the end of the 18th century.

Barolo wine, as it is available today, originated in the 19th century.

The royal house of Savoy was particularly enthusiastic about Barolo. They provided land in Serralunga d'Alba for the cultivation of grapes. From the royal house came the saying "wine of kings" and "king of wines".

Is there a Barolo Wine Museum?

Yes, there is a Barolo Wine Museum in the town of Barolo. The museum is located in a medieval castle.

This museum is interesting for you if you are interested in the history of (Barolo) viticulture in an interactive museum.

It is a museum suitable for the whole family.

There are guided tours in different languages in the museum. A ticket for the Barolo Museum is available for under 10 euros.

Are there Barolo wine tours?

Yes, there are several wine tours in the region around Barolo. You can visit the vineyards and taste different wines of the region, including Barolo.

You can also book these tours in combination with a sightseeing tour of the region, a truffle hunt or a dinner. Some tour operators have guides who also speak German.

Such wine tours in the Barolo wine region can be booked in different price categories, depending on the programme. The cheaper tours can be booked from around €100 per person. Most tours, however, cost around €200 per person.

Image source: pixabay.com / ponce_photography

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