Vintage Barolo - help understanding this wine

Wondering if anyone could help explain these 2 items on the label of this 1947 Borgogno Barolo (image below):

1.Denominazione d’origine controllata on a non library vintage (ie. original bottling red top cap), I assume issued before regional DOC existence in 1966)

2.French and English metric label - what market would this have been labeled for?

On the first point I have seen a few 1947 vintage labels with this designation - when would have this been bottled and subsequently labeled?
On the second point I have never seen this label - the UK/US market was issued in imperial units, not bilingual.
The only country I can think of that has French and English and metric labels is Canada, but neither bilingualism or the metric system was adopted till the mid 70’s.
Or could it even be possible the label even be a fake on such a relatively low value bottle?
Any insight would be appreciated.

interesting! during that time in italy it is very possible that this wine was just kept in barrels and then bottled when someone requested it, which might explain the DOC label? thats just a shot in the murk though.

I have several of these downstairs, I’ll dig 'em out today to compare

The fact that the French comes first suggests to me that this was destined for France. As you said, this was before bilingual labeling in Canada, and I can’t imagine there was much of a market for Barolo in Quebec, though Montreal was Canada’s largest city then, with lots of anglophones.

720ml was not uncommon on labels. Many old Bordeaux are labeled as 720 or 730. It roughly corresponded to 25 ounces: 720ml = 25.3 Imperial (British) fluid ounces = 24.3 US fluid ounces.
The 750ml size was only standardized internationally in 1973, according to this thread:
There’s some more info here. Someone says the figure was sometimes a deliberate understatement in case some bottles were underfilled:

No way they kept it in barrels for 19 years, waiting for the DOC!

But they did typically leave the bottles unlabelled until they were shipped. So this could have been labeled after the DOC came into existence in 1966 but before 750ml was standardized. It wouldn’t have been so uncommon to have some ~20-year-old bottles in the cellar in those days. Borgogno was a large producer by the standards of the day, and Barolo was hardly a big seller. And you’ll note the vintage strip is separate, so they could have used the main labels they printed in 1966 with the old vintage strip.

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haha i thought that about the barrels, then also thought about unlabelled bottles, and in a brain fart didnt know how to word that part well. but a more recently labeled bottle makes complete sense

Here are mine for comparison, I tried to angle them a little so you can see the entire label

interesting, quite a number of differences between your’s and mine. In case it is not readable, the alc content on mine is the horizontal text on the right side, and reads:
CONTEMUTO LT. 0,720 - GRADI 13,5

Eric - Any chance of a higher res photo?

Let me ask my wife :slight_smile:

actually John, did you click the photo? it opens up to a much higher res, let me know if you would still like something better, I’m sure my wife (a photographer) wouldn’t mind helping me out :slight_smile:

I seem to recall an IDTT with a Barolo producer (can’t recall which one) who said they would sometimes put the wine in glass demijohns and bottle later as needed, but not sure how long they would use that means of storage. Your explanation of bottling at the time but labeling later seems more likely.

This is a fun thread because that’s my old post about 720mL bottles plus I can provide another pic where the bottle is not labeled DOC (and it’s a red cap import from Envoyer).

You might be thinking of Lorenzo Accomasso. As Gregory Dal Piaz writes it:

"As was often seen at that time, Lorenzo aged his wine first in botte, for 3 years, followed by an additional 3 years in 12.5 liter quarter brenta bottles, of which he had upwards of 300 at the time. This ageing in large format glass seems to freeze the wines, lending them a clarity and accentuating their crystalline nature in way that wood and small bottle ageing simply can not match. If you are fortunate to try wines from this period you may very well marvel at how well they are preserved and the clarity they continue to offer.

Somewhere along the line, roughly at the turn of the millennium, Lorenzo did away with the demijohn ageing, according to him simply because he no longer enjoyed that phase of the work."

Thanks for the kind mention Chris!

Barale is the other producer who was an advocate of demi-jhn ageing, until the great freeze of, well the year escapes me, but not too long ago, and they have used the demi-john since then.

I have seen these bottles many times. They were stored as shiners in inventory and labeled upon sale. This bottle presumably was sold after 1966, and retains it’s red capsule since it it was not recorked and topped up. At least that is the implication of what I see. Of course, it could also be the case that the neck tag was switched.

As far as the Franco-Italiano labelling, who knows what was going on when this was bottled. The Piedmontese make good wines, but Italians in general are not know to be rule followers, and in particular were blissfully ignorant of rules and the need to follow them well into the 1980s, even early 1990s in some regions of the country. I’m talking wholesale ignorance of the rules with little or no consequence. It must have been paradise!

A little off - topic, but I drank the ‘58 Borgogno last week and it was a truly extraordinary wine. I wish I had looked more closely at the label.

Sorry, that works on my iPad, but didn’t on my PC.


I’m not following this. Barale used demi-johns until a big freeze… Which broke the glass? But he’s been using demi-johns (again?) since … the freeze? [scratch.gif]

Sorry, I’m enjoying wine… Yes, they used glass demi-johns until many broke during a big freeze, that ended their widespread use. He has since restarted the process on a small scale.

The '47 is great. Severed as a 70th year birthday present and this wine was singing.

I didn’t think you were that old. You look great. :wink: