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Cantina del Nebbiolo is located in Vezza d'Alba, in the heart of the Roero, but also welcomes into its fabric of members grape growers in the Langhe. Roero and Langhe is a large area of hills and valleys, with a profound uniformity, accompanied by some environmental differences and cultural tradition that characterize the individual spaces.
They are a world of uninterrupted hills, the Langhe and Roero, a river goes through them - the Tanaro - which seems to randomly divide the areas. It is true that in the past this river ran to the north of this area and then they were almost touching. But now - after the geological changes that occurred about 250,000 years ago – the course of the river divides the areas precisely at the base of the hills between Langhe and Roero, emphasizing the soil diversity, environment, and structural shape.
Broadly speaking, we can say that the Langhe and Roero are a bit like two worlds side by side, each is very similar, but at the same time, different.
Both sides of the zone are referred to as originating in the Tertiary Era, which is the geological period from 65 million to 2.58 million years ago. The Langhe, however, is older and originated in the Miocene period, which the period between 23 to 5.3 million years ago. The Roero, is much younger, as it emerged from the waters of the Padano Sea between 5.3 and 1.8 million years ago, during the Pliocene period.
This different geological origins, of course, is reflected on the character of the land and the products they produce, the Langhe soils are more compact, harder, made primarily of limestone and clay. In the Roero, with nearly the same basic structural components, we find frequent appearances of sand that make the soil less compact.
The Roero territory
The long panoramic hills characterize the views looking from the Langhe to the Roero are dominated by pointed peaks and areas that steep and difficult to navigate and cultivate.
Grapevines usually sit across long rows along the hillsides, while the top of the summits are often covered by trees, due to the steepness of the land which makes it problematic for people to work and unstable for machines to work.
Following from the path of the Tanaro, Roero occupies the space that is on the left and runs across 19 municipalities in the province of Cuneo, with Canale as its center.
The first stretch of land is overlooking the Tanaro and immediately after it becomes quite hilly. Then, as you go north in the direction of Turin there is an undulating plateau, which changes from vineyards to the cultivation of grassland, crops and vegetable gardens.
In the Roero, it is not only vineyards. In the past, as today, the space competes with other crops, fruit trees, vegetable crops, meadows for cattle farming and beekeeping.
By sharing the space with other crops and vineyards it creates a varied landscape, richer and more diverse, which marks the changing seasons with more colors and complexity that alternate along the hillsides.
In the vineyards, the prevalent varieties of grapes are red - specifically Nebbiolo and Barbera, followed by white wine grapes, in recent years the success of Arneis and Favorita have increased the percentage of white wine vineyards. Here, Nebbiolo is the star - twice. First, with the Roero DOCG, a red wine that uses 95% Nebbiolo grapes, with the possibility to finish with 5% of other approved red grape varieties. Second, Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC which is made with 100% Nebbiolo grapes and shares the designation with other villages along the Tanaro in the Langhe.
The area of Barbaresco
On the right side of the Tanaro, facing the hills of Roero, lies the small wine zone of Barbaresco: three villages (Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso) and the small hamlet of San Rocco Seno d'Elvio, a part of the city of Alba. Here too, Nebbiolo has its special birthplace, a large hilly area of about 700 hectares where this aristocratic grapevine becomes Barbaresco, one of the greatest red wines in the world.
Here a long hill dominates, with steepness that is accentuated as the hills increase in altitude. The valleys are narrower and Nebbiolo can only be cultivated on the sunnier exposition, as the Regulations of Barbaresco dictate, which means on the east, south and west slopes.
Elsewhere, there are other varieties that grow well here too, two red wine grapes; Barbera and Dolcetto, and then Moscato, the most widely grown white wine grape, followed by Chardonnay, which has filled the gap of the white wine variety. Historically, there were not close ties with Arneis and Favorita in this area, so in the middle of the 1980’s wine growers decided to plant Chardonnay, to reinforce the parallel between the Langhe hills and the Burgundy wine-growing zone.
The Barbaresco hills have compact soil that is rather homogeneous, only a deeper analysis can be divided into two parts in this area due to the nature of the land.
These areas are from the Tertiary and Miocene period, but the hills around the villages of Barbaresco and Neive of those abutting the Barbaresco belong to the Tortonian period, which are made of a bluish marl, which is very firm and compressed and which geologists define as Sant'Agata Fossils. Here Barbaresco wines are more structured and long aging.
In the remaining area (all of Treiso and San Rocco Seno d'Elvio, and part the area Neive in the direction of Moscato di Mango and Castiglione Tinella) the land is still marl, but the reference is closer to the Tortonian-Serravallian, with the so-called Lequio formations, where the gray marl is often interspersed with sand. Land and therefore less structured and compact, producing wines of lesser power but with wonderful rich aromas and balance.
The area of Barolo
Staying on the right side of the Tanaro River, but proceeding in a southwesterly direction, after the city of Alba is a wide and occasionally flat valley floor that opens up going in the direction of Barolo. It is an area larger than Barbaresco, but equally prestigious and also has a dedication to vineyards and production of quality wine. Here are eleven villages, some have all their territory in the area of provenance of Barolo, they are; Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and Barolo.
The other eight (Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour, Monforte d'Alba, Novello, Cherasco, La Morra, Verduno and Roddi) have only a part of their territory in the Barolo area. Viewed from above it resembles a beautiful crown around the three most central villages and which make up the great vineyards of Barolo with about 2000 hectares that are dedicated to Nebbiolo.
Aside from Nebbiolo vineyards this area also hosts other varieties, both red varieties; Dolcetto, Barbera and Pelaverga (the latter is grown only in Verduno, Roddi and La Morra); and white varieties; Moscato and Chardonnay, and sometimes even Arneis and Favorita. But there is also a particularly precious grape from Novello – Nascetta - a variety that enjoys a broad and complex bouquet with the ability to age for years.
From the morphological point of view, also in the Barolo region along an elongated hill that dominates the area. The term "Langa" confirms its Celtic origins which means "tongue of land". The valleys are narrow and tend to be more popular here, the slopes dedicated to the cultivation of vineyards remain sunnier to the east, south and west, and all of their infinite combinations.
The soil in the Barolo area is primarily compact and strongly dominated by limestone and clay marl.
The geological origin is the same as that of Barbaresco, the Tertiary Era and the Period of the Miocene periods, but the composition of the soil is different depending on the location. Basically, it is the great valley that joins the plain of Alba to the village of Barolo: moving towards Barolo, the hills that are to the left and belong to the villages of Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d 'Alba and Monforte d'Alba are the oldest soils, dating from the Elveziano period (between 16 and 13.8 million years ago) making them very compact gray marl, which are the backbone of the soil, capable of producing wines of Barolo with breadth and structure, definitely likely to age well.
The hills, however, placed on the right of the great valley, or the towns of Barolo, Novello, La Morra, Roddi, Verduno and Cherasco, have younger soils, belonging to the Tortonian (11.6 and 7.2 million years ago ). In this case, the marls are blue and compact are almost identical to the soil in the area of ??Barbaresco and produce less bold and full-bodied Barolo, but tend to be more elegant and aromatic and approachable.
And, if we wanted to be more analytical, we could say that in the Comune of Barolo with the long hill of Cannubi is part of the countryside that lies to the north towards the center of the valley, marks the meeting between the two geological periods (Helvetian and Tortonian) and creates the optimal synthesis between the two types of soil, for a Barolo of structure and power without giving up harmony and elegance.