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Jun 7, 2022

Although much bigger, more well-known, and a bit fancier than the people I usually speak with, I wanted to make an exception and have the family who owns Marchesi di Barolo on the show so they could explain how the modern style of Barolo was created by the winery. It's much more buttoned up, and less of the normal conversation style I usually do, but it's an essential bit of history that will help fill-in some gaps about Barolo!


Marchesi di Barolo in Barolo, photo from Marchesi di Barolo's Facebook page

There are a lot of historic wineries and a lot of people in wine claim to have been the first to create a wine or a technique. But this week, the Cantina that invented Barolo as we know it today - Marchesi di Barolo joins. In the mid- to late- 1800s the Marchesi di Barolo focused on the production of dry, ageworthy, complex Nebbiolo was created from a wine that Thomas Jeffereson described as:

“As silky as Madeira, as astringent as Bordeaux and as brisk as Champagne”

 

Thankfully for those of us who love Barolo, the Marchesi had a different style in mind and created the wine as we know it today.

 

The current owners, the Abbona family, purchased Marchesi di Barolo and today the 6th generation is taking over the winery. Valentina Abbona joins the show to talk about the history of Barolo as a wine, and her family’s long history in owning this storied place and making bottles that remain top examples of the wine created here.

 

Here are the notes:

  • Valentina tells us about what it was like in Barolo in the late 1700s and early 1800s from a wine and lifestyle perspective – the polyculture that existed, and the simple, country lifestyle people led.

 

  • Marchese Carlo Tancredi Falletti and his wife, Juliette, who was of French origin, figured out how to make Barolo a dry wine, consistently. Previously, as it sat in barrels that didn’t have temperature control or were placed outdoors, the fermentation did not complete before the weather got cold. The yeast froze and sugar stayed in the wine. When the juice re-commenced fermentation, carbon dioxide stayed in the wine – thus why Thomas Jefferson compared it to Champagne.

The Marquesa di Barolo - Giulia di Barolo, photo from the Wine Museum of Barolo

 

  • We learn about how the Marchesa Giulia (who changed her name from Juliette to the Italian version of the name), specifically, found interest in the Nebbiolo vine and how she realized her vision for what Nebbiolo could be/the wines it could make of dry wines (using her knowledge of French wines and connections to people who could help).

 

  • We discuss how the Marchesa used her contacts to the royal courts of Europe (Piedmont was under the Kingdom of Savoy of France at the time) to popularize the wine, even sending hundreds of barrels to the king in Torino to ensure he could drink the wine daily.

 

  • We then turn to Valentina’s family, the Abbonas, who have been making esteemed wine in Barolo since the late-1800s as well. When the opportunity to buy the Marchesi di Barolo occurred in 1929, Pietro Abbona, his brother, and his sisters bought the winery and began making small improvements.

Davide, Valentina, Ernesto, Anna Abbona, photo from Marchesi di Barolo's Facebook page

  • We discuss the Abbona’s tradition of making single vineyard wines since 1973 and a bit about their three properties -- Cannubi, Coste di Rose, and Sarmassa.

 

  • Valentina and I have a small debate about the MGA system, which smaller producers find challenging but that some bigger producers of the area, like Marchesi di Barolo, seem to like and find useful.

 

  • Valentina talks about some of the other properties the Marchesi di Barolo owns in its 430 acre (186 ha) all over the Langhe and how they manage the land.

 

  • After a brief conversation about how long Barolo can age (hint: forever!) we discuss climate change and the future of Barolo and Nebbiolo in light of the challenges the future may bring.

The MGA Barolos of the Marchesi di Barolo

 

If you are looking for an historic visit in Barolo, you can book a tour and tasting https://marchesibarolo.com !

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