Winery visits in Barolo, possibly Barbaresco

My wife and I will be traveling to Italy and France late spring this year, and we are hunting for good wineries to visit. Less commercial, with more character, would be preferred. I love good Barolo, but find alot of it to be difficult to approach young. Any recommendations on wineries to visit? Wineries willing to serve the good stuff? Was considering Vajra, Baudana, Clerico, Aldo Contorno, E. Pira & Figli, or Poderi. Thanks in advance.

1 Like

That’s like saying you’re thinking of visiting Château in Bordeaux.

Anyways, the drive to Barbaresco isn’t that far off. Both Barolo and Barbaresco are within a stone’s throw from Alba.

If you are visiting Barbaresco, it’s easy to go to Produttori. It’s right in the middle of the town. Tons of other great names in a mile’s radius from there.

However, getting to some smaller producers might be difficult - especially if they don’t speak English and you don’t speak any Italian!

1 Like

Brovia has great wine and great people, tastes their top wines.

However they are more traditional (I think) than the wineries you mention.

2 Likes

“Willing to serve the good stuff”? Should they make dinner for you too?

I think you’ll be tasting the 20 which is generally a bit softer Barolo to the 19’s. We had terrific visits at F. Alessandria, Cavallotto, Elio Grasso and Vietti in 2022. All of them pour their top wines

2 Likes

Just there in October. You will have access to ‘good stuff’ but it will cost from $75 pp to $200
Varja, Vietti Giovanni Rosso, Massolino.
There is a great enoteca in the town of Barolo that you can have some fun in with a little imagination.

https://g.co/kgs/h22EgPV

There are some free options as well. Then there’s the ‘priveledged visits’ that probably helps to know someone.

We had 8 great visits in 3 solid days. Tasted maybe 100 wines. Don’t miss pelaverga.

1 Like

Late spring not the worst time to visit, but if that’s into June, I’d probably look at accommodation that has a pool, just in case it’s got hot by then.

Personally, I would say be brave in seeking ‘less commercial, more character’ and include some wineries where you’d never tasted their wine before, indeed perhaps never heard of them before researching this trip. All those listed, whilst not commercial as (say) a Marchesi di Barolo, Ratti, Fontanafredda or (now) Borgogno, are all well-established. For me a good balance is half that would be at this level of awareness, but then hunt out others **local to these where the information you can gather via website / CT and other sources, makes it feel like it might be interesting.

** Whilst it’s possible to drive from village to village for each tasting, I very much enjoy using the geography to ease the driving. e.g. it’s possible to plan a day, where you drive to your lunchtime restaurant in the morning, drop the car there, and walk to a couple of winery appointments in the morning, returning to the restaurant for lunch. This gives the driver a little more leeway to taste wines in the morning, and even a small glass with lunch, and maybe a short walk afterwards before driving again. Indeed best of all is having a day where the car is left parked up, and you walk between your appointments (including even walking through the vineyards to get there). It’s your choice though, and that depends on how much the scenery appeals vs. a sense of wanting to see as many villages as you can. We simply returned for multiple visits, which eases that desire to try and see it all in one fast trip. That also allowed us to stay longer in and around the village we stayed in, exploring its wineries in moderate depth, but also exploring their vineyards on foot (the walking is wonderful here).

Booking: Many take bookings in English (sometimes with a delay, as their English speaking family member is located), but I do like to email in Italian, which generally gets fast responses. The excellent langhe, roero & monferrato tourist website used to have a super (but not exhaustive) listing of wineries with when they accepted visitors, what languages they spoke, and other such useful info. Hopefully that’s still there. In addition, about 10-15 years ago they started a booking service, which would be the easiest way to do it. There was no charge (except for a fee in the event of a no-show), but I’ve not used it except for once when they first introduced it.

Visits typically take 90 minutes ± half an hour, so we tend to leave 2 hours between appointments. Whilst long lunch breaks are something of a lost habit, you might struggle to get appointments between (say) 1pm and 3pm

Barolo indeed can be difficult young, but whilst still fresh with fruit on release, it’s surprisingly ok, as long as you’re not tasting 6-7 Barolos back to back (the tannins and acid can really dry the mouth out). Plenty of wineries has other wines as well and look out for white nascetta, red pelaverga, alongside better known grapes like Arneis, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cortese, Barbera, Dolcetto & Freisa (and lighter langhe nebbiolo). They’ll also typically (and generously) supply salami, breadsticks, maybe some cheese that helps keep the nebbiolo tannins in check.

3 Likes

Oddero runs an AirBnb with a nice big pool that’s just outside of the village of Barolo. Like a 4 minute walk into the town. We didn’t use the pool when we were there since it was early April, but it has great views of the village and we sat out in the sun and had some wine there.

Cavallotto we paid and they opened their riservas side by side. Oddero opened Barolo, Barbaresco and a Riserva Barolo among others. I think we paid a small amount for that tasting, can’t remember though. Paolo Scavino opened 3 single crus among other wines.

I think most want you to taste what they make, they’re all small and I’m sure if you ask they can do their best to curate.

There’s also something special/exciting about dabbling into a tasting of Nebbiolo with a producer at 9:30/10am. It’s the only time you’ll ever have your face ripped off with tannin that early, but recent vintages are more approachable in their youth than they used to.

7 Likes

If interested in Barbaresco, we had a great visit at Castello di Nieve

1 Like

Thanks. Do you think the local producers all require an appointment, like in California these days? Or does Produttori have a walk in tasting room? thanks

Sounds like fun. Do you recall what you paid at Cavallotto, Oddero and the others, for a cru tasting? thanks

When I visited in 2017, you could walk in sans appointment and have a fairly generic but free tasting, including the grappa. Not sure if a more fulsome tasting is available by appointment.

Also visited the following wineries on my visit. We enjoyed them all and the vast majority did not charge a fee but I did make a reservation: Vajra, Cavallotto, Schiavenza, Rizzi, Cascina Delle Rose, F Allesandria, Oddero, Aurelio Settimo, and Ettore Germano.

1 Like

From my notes in planning Cavallotto was €45/person.
Oddero I have marked down as €25/person, I don’t think they charged us though.
Burzi was €15/person, I know they didn’t charge us.
Albino Rocca in Barbaresco was €20, can’t remember whether they did or not.
Paolo Scavino didn’t charge anything.

1 Like

As with Scott, I did a walk-in tasting at Produttori del Barbaresco, and it was extremely underwhelming. Very little available to taste, and a supreme level of indifference from the person staffing the tasting room. On that basis, not even worth the effort to walk through the door.

There are very few walk-in tasting rooms, the ones I recall being PdB, Terre del Barolo co-op (we didn’t bother, as what we’d previously tasted didn’t impress), Marchesi di Barolo (also very underwhelming and we’d even made an appointment), one on the main road between Barolo and Annunziata (can’t recall the winery, but whilst more engaging than the above, the wine was ok but not enough to consoder buying). Only one other walk in, and it was a world apart in terms of experience. Engaging discussion with the relatively elderly owner/winemaker, in a cosy ‘front room’ tasting room. It felt like he enjoyed discussing wine or simply meeting people, and it felt very welcoming. The wines good as well. The winery is Sergio Giudice in Serralunga (in the village itself). I’m not sure how good his English is, as we spoke mostly in Italian, but IIRC some English speakers came in as well.

1 Like

i am going to head down next tuesday to buy some bottles. Will go to: oddero, giacomo fenocchio, mauro molino, albino rocca e giuseppe cortese… will let you know my experience

4 Likes

Excellent!

We very much enjoyed Albino Rocca, and in a region where whites can be underwhelming, something of an afterthought once the reds are planted, they really impressed with both their Cortese and Moscato. Faultless across the range when we tasted there,

:slightly_smiling_face: For Mauro Molino. We’ve visited twice and absolutely loved the way the younger generation were so professional (yet still friendly, hospitable and engaging). The wines lean more modern than is my preference, but it’s definitely not an extreme modernist approach. We still enjoy them.

Both those visits should be enjoyable and interesting, and I’m sure the others will be good too (Fenocchio indeded is one I’m not sure how we’ve never got round to visiting, as I’ve liked their Barolos). Hope you have a great time.

2 Likes

Thank you very much! i am starting to build up a little inventory and will be my first time visiting those guys (suggested by a friend who works for a producer in the area). Will be also visiting Ferrando in Ivrea and Muraje in Carema up north

4 Likes

Ooh, that’s a lovely bonus. I do like the wines of Carema, and not just the nebbiolo, as erbaluce excites whether dry, sparkling or sweet.

If you want to make me even more jealous, grab some Fumin from Aosta!

1 Like

yesterday

the Fumin you need

1 Like

yea ill go on a little VdA trip next time i am back home (originally from canavese region). good whites and reds there

1 Like