Are you confused between Barbaresco and Barolo wines? Do you want to know which one is better? We understand your confusion. Both Barbaresco and Barolo wines are almost interchangeable. The reason is that they use the same grape variety, Nebbiolo grapes. However, they are not the same, and you will find many differences in both these wines. The most recognizable difference is the aging requirements. When Barbaresco is drinkable at a young due to its soft flavors, Barolo requires time. It has tannic, and it will need more time to soften. However, this is not the only difference. We will cover the history of each and the differences between the two wines in the following. Moreover, we will know about the Nebbiolo grape.
Origin of Nebbiolo Grape
Nebbiolo is a red grape variety, and its origin dates back to the 12th century. This red grape variety adapted to the changing soil conditions over the centuries. Currently, it contributes to two of the most incredible wines in Italy. This grape type features thin skin and small sizes. However, you can expect a powerful effect. Nebbiolo grapes contain high tannins and expressive aromas with a balancing effect. Moreover, the harvesting of this grape starts in the spring and continues until the fall. The unique harvesting requirements make it available in the Southern part of vineyards. They get more sun and dry conditions to ensure proper growth.
Barbaresco was not well-known before 1894. Before 1894, wine manufacturers were using red grapes for Barolo. However, they wanted an alternative to Barolo wine and focused on manufacturing a new option, known as Barbaresco. The added version required younger soils and produced lighter, delicate, and younger wines. Wine lovers found this new addition easy to drink compared to the previous one.
After World War II, the Gaia family introduced this new wine to the wine map. In 1958, a small group of producers, Produttori del Barbaresco, got the distinct recognition of introducing this wine variety to wine lovers.
Barolo got this name from a noblewoman, Marchesa of Barolo, living in the 19th century. However, initially, it was a different wine. In 1950, when it came to the market, it was sparkling and sweet. If you compare the traditional version with the current wine, you will notice many differences. Until the 1960s, wine manufacturers used a combination of different varieties.
In the 1970s and 80s, they used new techniques to make wines fruitier and easier. The inclusion divided the manufacturers into two groups. When some used traditional techniques, others focused on the new to attract more wine lovers. Currently, most winemakers use modern methods. However, they use mixed styles.
What Are the Differences?
Although both these wines use Nebbiolo grapes, you will find a lot of differences in the finished wine. Some noteworthy differences are soil conditions, aging requirements, and topographic differences.
Barolo is in the South-West of Langhe, and it lies at a higher elevation. It is around fifty meters above the Barbaresco. Barbaresco is in the North-East, and it is close to the Tanaro river near the Ligurian Sea.
The lower altitude vineyards and maritime influence in Barbaresco cause the fast ripening of the Nebbiolo grapes. Also, the fermentation becomes faster. It minimizes the time of manufacturing. The conditions of the Barbaresco support a quick manufacturing process compared to its competitor.
When it comes to fertility, the Barbaresco soil is more fertile. Moreover, it produces fewer tannins compared to the Barolo. You will find the color of both wines light. Also, their delicate smell can inspire any wine lover. Both have a long finish, and the process might be complex. But you will notice a difference in the taste in the mid-palate. When the Barbaresco tastes much brighter, the Barolo will be fuller.
It is noteworthy that the soil of Barolo and Barbaresco is rich in clay and lime. As the lime has more alkaline, the plants produce grapes with a higher level of acidity. Also, the grapes will have a lower level of pH. Therefore, you can expect high-quality wines regardless of the option you choose.
Rarity & Price
The Barolo manufacturers produce more than fourteen million bottles every year for international and domestic consumption. However, the production of the Barbaresco is less. It manufactures 1/3 sizes of the Barolo. It produces only 4.5 million bottles every year. Therefore, you can say that Barbaresco is not available easily, but it is affordable compared to its competitor. Barolo is more expensive due to its increasing global demand. Even if it is not rare, the end cost will be more.
As stated earlier, Barbaresco will require fewer aging. However, Barolo will age better, and you can enjoy your wine without bothering about the freshness. Both Barbaresco and Barolo will need aging before introducing to the public. However, the capacity and the need for maturation will not be the same.
When it comes to Barbaresco, it will require two years of aging to a minimum. Within these two years, the wine will smooth its tannins. Soft wine will offer an ultimate customer experience. Also, the maturation period will enhance the flavor of your wine. However, some Barbaresco wines require four years of aging. The objective is to get a valuable and prestigious label.
The aging requirements of Barolo wine will be more. It will need three years of aging to a minimum. The extra year will add more robust flavors, a bolder personality, and firmer tannins. However, some wines require more than five years of aging. It will include three years in oak.
Barbaresco is the best to drunk young since the grapes will ripe sooner. Also, the grapes will allow your wine to get full flavor fast. Barolo is perfect for extended aging. It will mature gracefully to get savory aromas and bold fruit flavors.
Which One Is Better?
In Barolo wines, you will get a concentrated and muscular form of tannins. However, Barbaresco is lighter, and you can drink it young. Both wines received DOCG status with different regulations in 1980. Therefore, you can choose any of these based on your taste preferences.