The Villages of Barolo and Barbaresco

Prior to buying Kerin O’Keefe’s book, Barolo and Barbaresco, The King and Queen of Italian Wine, I had no idea there are multiple villages that make up the Barolo and Barbaresco wine regions.

Barolo soil types

Soils found in different communes of Barolo wine region.

There are 11 villages in Barolo, and the first five listed below produce the majority of Barolo.

  1. Barolo
  2. Castiglione Falletto
  3. Monforte d’Alba
  4. Serralunga d’Alba
  5. La Morra
  6. Cherasco
  7. Verduno
  8. Roddi
  9. Grinzane Cavour
  10. Diano d’Alba
  11. Novello

There are 3 villages in Barbaresco:

  1. Barbaresco
  2. Neive
  3. Treiso

Although there are microclimates within the different zones in Barolo and Barbaresco, generally, when describing them, you’ll notice that words tend to be more masculine for the former and feminine for the latter. Hence, you’ll see them referred to as the King and Queen of Italian wines, respectively.

Barolo villages

Barolo has a longer growing season, while the climate is milder in Barbaresco. The soil in Barbaresco also has more nutrients. DOCG stipulates that Barolo must be aged for at least 38 months, of which at least 18 months must be in chestnut or oak barrels. Barbaresco must be aged for at least two years, and at least 9 months of that must be in wood.

Barbaresco communes

You’ll also see Riserva, which indicates a very good year. For a Riserva wine, Barolo producers must age the wine for five years prior to release, while it’s four years for Barbaresco Riservas.

My birthday is next week and I have a 2003 Barolo from Anselma Giacomo located in Serralunga d’Alba I’ve been waiting to enjoy! 2003 was a hot year, so I’m curious to taste it. So excited!

Montepulciano, the Grape and the Town

So it’s starting. My first daily post begins today and will continue up until exam time. In WSET 3 class, we covered Italy this weeks so the next several posts will be on that.

I find Italy incredibly difficult – the varietals, the names of the regions. And it’s not just these unfamiliar Italian names on their own that are truly testing my memory, but because I’ve come across a town and grape with the same name! Right?! These Italians don’t make it easy! Case in point: Montepulciano.


Montepulciano is a town in southern Tuscany. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A town in the Tuscany region, it’s also a varietal that you’ll find in the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). So, Montepulciano, the varietal, is not actually used in the wine that comes from the town Montepulciano. In fact, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG uses the varietal Sangiovese as its main grape. Confused yet?

Here’s the trick to remembering what’s what. If you see di or d’, the word it precedes is a place. I don’t know Italian, but based on the other Latin based language I do read, write and speak, French, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo would mean Montepulciano (the grape) from Abruzzo (the place) or Montepulciano of Abruzzo. So in case of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, it is wine that comes from Montepulciano, not wine made of Montepulciano.

More on Italy tomorrow! Make sure you come back. If you have any questions, please please, please submit it in the comment section at the end of this post. Not only will my response satisfy your curiosity, but it’ll help me tremendously answering them!