In the land bordering France and Switzerland, there is liquid gold to be discovered. Once called the “Wine of Kings,” this liquid gold historically quenched the thirst of Italy’s first and last kings, the Savoys. Now called the “King of Wine,” Barolo reds are intricate, and feature infinite complexity in a rich palate of dark fruits like cherry and blackberry, as well as more earthy tones such as truffle, mushroom, leather and tobacco.
Piedmont: The Great Italian Winegrower
Piedmont is an Italian region like no other. Sharing its borders with both France and Switzerland, it’s a picturesque region of snow-capped mountains and valleys, overrun with vineyards, castles and incredible cuisine. Once the seat of the Savoy empire, Piedmont has been known for its Barolo and Barbaresco, “the wine of kings and queens”—crave-worthy wines made from the Nebbiolo grape that are amongst some of the most coveted wines in the world. Barolo and Barbaresco can only be made in a few villages in the region of Piedmont; if a vineyard is not located in one of those villages, winemakers can’t make Barolo or Barbaresco. But Nebbiolo grapes is grown all over the region, not just in the villages that use it to create the high end wines.
The Nebbiolo Grape
The Nebbiolo grape is a lot like its neighboring Pinot Noir, the great red grape of Burgundy—it’s thin-skinned, difficult to grow and possesses beguiling aromas. One of the most beautiful aspects of Nebbiolo is its scent of roses.
There are varying stories of how this grape came to be the “The Wine of Kings and King of Wines,” but according to one, it was the 19th-century initiative of the Marchessa of Barolo, Giulia Colbert Falletti di Maulévrier, that gave Barolo its international reputation. She was born in France, and upon seeing potential in the nebbiolo grape, she had Burgundian wine consultants improve the crop. History says she sent 350 crates of the grape the Savoy court in Piedmont, with the aim of promoting both Barolo wine and its reputation.
In addition to this notable scent, the wine has a great amount of acidity, mouth-drying tannins and earthy flavors that go well with all types of food: pair it with a prime rib roast; a rack of lamb? Nebbiolo will marry all the flavors; a rich mushroom lasagna? The nebbiolo undertones will complement the earthy flavor.
Aging, Notes & Undertones
The style of wine is the one that traditionalists are still making today: wonderfully fragrant, with notes of bitter cherry, truffles, earth, roses, and even tar; the wine is rather light-colored, quite high in acidity and very tannic, and by traditional standards, needs several years’ aging in barrel and bottle. In fact, by law, Barolo must age a minimum of three years—at least two in barrel—but some producers age their wines longer. Even after Barolo is bottled, it requires many more years’ aging time. Though modernist’s’ palates find Barolo to be more palatable and juicier in its youth, traditionalists say drinking the wine in its youth lacked much of what made Barolo distinctive: its classic structure, powerful tannins, concentrated flavor, and distinctive aromas. The best years to savor Barolo are 2007, 2006, 2001, 2000. This wine truly gives meaning to the phrase “age like wine.”
Enjoy Barolo at Salute Trattoria Italiana, in the Red Rock Resort
You don’t have to travel to the remote town of Piedmont, Italy to enjoy a taste of history. Salute Trattoria is offering 50% off all bottles of wine, priced $100 and below, on our Wine Thursdays! We are featuring Barolo, Cantine Giacomo Ascheri, Piedmont, Italy ‘12, for $94/bottle, or $24/glass.
Salute Trattoria Italiana is open 5–10PM
Red Rock Resort Las Vegas
Wednesday Happy Hour 5-7PM
All Day Wine Thursday