Wow. Wow. Wow. Yes, tasting a 1970 Marchesi di Barolo left me momentarily monosyllabic. Sipping a wine that was bottled before I was born, that had matured in an Italian cellar and traveled across the ocean to make its way into my glass in Manhattan was a truly surreal experience. And, what an honor to be guided through this moment by the winemakers - the Abbona family. Here are five fun facts about Marchesi di Barolo and the family behind the label.
1. Location: The vineyards of the Marchesi di Barolo Estate are located in northern Italy in the Langhe area of Piedmont. The cellars are in the village of Barolo (population: 600!) and overlook the impressive Renaissance castle of the Marchesi Falleti di Barolo. The winery produces approximately 1.5 million bottles of vino, including Barolo, Barbaresco, Gavi, and Moscato d'Asti. The Marchesi di Barolo cellar is a virtual Barolo library and houses 40,000 bottles going back to the 1800's.
2. The Winemakers: Meet the Abbona Family - the 5th and 6th generation of winemakers who run this family business. Valentina and her brother Davide work closely with their parents Ernesto and Anna to maintain the family legacy for the future.
Barolo Riserva 2001 ($105)
3. What is Barolo: Often described as one of Italy's finest wines, Barolo is a red wine produced in Piedmont from the Nebbiolo grape. We sampled several at the tasting and the Marchesi di Barolo 2001 Riserva was one of my favorites and I believe it finely captures the essence of this varietal. A rich garnet red, the Barolo Riserva 2001 has a seductive perfume with hints of vanilla, toasted hazelnut, and absinthe. The taste is velvety with just a hint of dryness balanced by soft and sweet tannins. 2001 was considered a perfect harvest because the weather conditions were ideal - not too hot. This wine is absolutely delicious now and will also age beautifully. Pair it with steak or lamb - delizioso!
Zagara Moscato d'Asti ($19)
4. They Make White Wine Too! - In addition to their acclaimed Barolo, Marchesi di Barolo also produces several other varietals including their stellar Zagara Moscato d'Asti. Moscato is one of the hottest trends happening in wine and the Zagara is one of the tastiest that I've tried. Sweet with soft notes of peach, this is a perfect dessert wine. It is also fine by itself as a cool summer sip.
5. Visiting the Winery: If you plan a trip to Barolo, you must visit Marchesi di Barolo. Reserve in advance and tell them Wanda sent you! They have two tasting rooms and a store where you can purchase your favorites. You can also enjoy a delicious meal - Anna Abbona is the creative force behind the winery restaurant that serves authentic Piedmontese cusine.
PS - Meeting the Abbona family was really one of the highlights of my blogging career. I loved their family dynamic and their passion for wine was contagious. I'm looking forward to visiting their winery one day!
PPS - Alas, the 1970 vintage Barolo that I tasted is not available for purchase. I strongly recommend befriending anyone that you suspect has a bottle in their cellar - you won't be disappointed! Anyone with such exceptional taste in wines surely must have other redeeming qualities. Salute!