Nebbiolo... the history

There are many historical sources that talk about Nebbiolo. The first quote seems to be that of "Documents on the History of Piedmont," where it appears that in 1268 this grape varietal was cultivated in Rivoli, in the hills of Turin. There are few certainties about its origins. There are those who say it began in Langhe in Piedmont or those who claim it first began in Valtellina.

What is certain is that in the hills of Langhe and Roero, Nebbiolo found its ideal environment.


This is best understood by the data on acreage of the world, Nebbiolo has a total area of approximately 5,500 hectares, more than 4,000 are those found in Langa and Roero, where the special symbiosis between the soil and the unique climate of this area allows the original vine to produce wines of extraordinary elegance like Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo d'Alba and Roero.


Nebbiolo d'Alba, in Roero

To the left of the Tanaro river, the land of these hills is called Roero and Nebbiolo thrives here producing two precious wines: the first, Roero, takes its name from the territory and is produced with 95% Nebbiolo grapes and the remaining part with other red grape varieties; the second, Nebbiolo d'Alba, uses the name of the grape variety and the name the largest city in the region, grapes come from both the right and the left of the Tanaro river. Nebbiolo d’Alba is produced with 100% Nebbiolo grapes.


On these steep hills in the Roero, Nebbiolo has deep roots, it is well-liked by the powerful and beloved by ordinary people. It seems that the most famous historical person that enjoyed Nebbiolo was Frederick Barbarossa, who in the winter between 1167 and 1168 lived for some months in the castle of Monteu Roero, at that time, Monte Acuto.


It also won over the nobility of Turin, led by King Carlo Alberto, to the point that he decided to buy two estates in Santa Vittoria d'Alba to produce "Nebiolin", the wine that fascinated him, in the basement of Pollenzo for himself and his court.


Nebbiolo has long been one of the grape varieties that, in the area surrounding Alba, joins the fates of the vineyards located on both banks of the Tanaro and since 1970 - the year of the recognition of the Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC - is a tangible example of a magic of collaboration. It extends across 32 villages, on both banks of the river, confirming a commitment to quality across the entire Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC growing area.

It is called Nebbiolo, or "vine of the mist" because its growing cycle is so long that the grapes finally ripen when the ridges of the hills are surrounded by the foggy mist of autumn which gives the wine all of its prestigious characteristics, more importantly, for the area on the left of the Tanaro, it is the last to leave kind of "sweetness" to become a totally dry wine.


Actually, towards the end of the last century, during the Belle Époque, the wines made from Nebbiolo were sparkling red and sweet, which constituted the fashion taste of the time.


Today the fascination of this variety continues. On the hills on the right and left of the Tanaro, Nebbiolo expresses its aristocratic characteristics; giving wines essential privilege that is timeless passing to future generations the unique character of its origin.



The name, in this case, comes from the small village of Barbaresco, located in the south - east of the hills around Alba. Set on a long ridge and characterized by its majestic medieval tower, the village looks down at the proud waters of the Tanaro River and across the river to the steep hills of the Roero.

Its location was well known to the Romans and was cited by Tito Livio in his Storia Romana as a strategic center where the Roman road linked the Ligurian coast with Turin. Even then, its viticulture was much appreciated.

However the historical roots go further back, to the ancient Ligurian Stazielli, which colonized these hills, encouraging the cultivation of grapevines and wine production. Also the name of the village, Barbaresco, comes from this period, specifically from Barbarica silva, a large oak tree forest with natural salt and sulphurous springs that extended throughout the area, and which Ligurians considered to be sacred.


It is no coincidence, therefore, that in the Duomo of Alba, there is a depiction of the medieval village of Barbaresco, which shows an engraved bowl full of grapes.

There are many other references, illustrating the strong tie between Nebbiolo and Barbaresco throughout the history of later centuries. It has been said that the Austrian General De Melas who in 1799 having defeated the French in battle on the field of Bra, to celebrate the victory, ordered the municipalities of Barbaresco to deliver to his camp several barrels of "Nebiolo from Barbaresco. "


Technical progress towards the of the end of the 1800’s marked the passage of Barbaresco wine from a sweet wine to a dry wine, thanks to new techniques of winemaking introduced by Domizio Cavazza, a well-known agronomist and the first director of the Royal School of Enology in Alba, who wanted a "fine, soft , generous " wine, like the greatest French wines.

In the early 1930’s Barbaresco was recognized as a "typical wine of honor”, and then received the DOC designation in 1966 and in 1980 DOCG.

The rest is recent history. What is outlined above is the confirmation of a product that offers in the glass its elegant character, shared by markets all over the world.




The history of Barolo recalls the memory of four important people who lived in the area in the middle of the nineteenth century: Giulia Colbert Falletti, last Marchioness of Barolo, Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the King Carlo Alberto and his successor Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Marchesa Falletti and the Conte di Cavour Barolo favored a gradual transition from the sweet wine to dry wine made "fashionable by the wines of Bordeaux". Thanks to the assistance of eminent French and Italian masters of the cantina; King Carlo Alberto fell in love with this wine and in order to produce it he ended up buying the Verduno Castle and its properties, while King Vittorio Emanuele II completed the work by encouraging the development of what would later become the prestigious Fontanafredda Tenuta dei Conti Mirafiori.

The result of this great work was so appreciated that the wine produced was called with the name of the residence of the Marquis and his estates -  Barolo. An exceptional wine, destined to become the "ambassador" in the courts of Europe from the Piedmont of the Savoy. From the beginning Barolo proved to be an important wine, rich in structure and able to age well, "age-worthy and able to export", as defined by Lorenzo Fantini in the late nineteenth century in his treatise devoted to viticulture in the Province of Cuneo.


If it became "the wine of kings" loved by the sovereigns, it was due to Carlo Alberto and Vittorio Emanuele II who bought estates and vineyards throughout the Langhe. It has subsequently become the "King of Wines" because Barolo managed to overcome passing fashion to become universal and invaluable in the Langhe area as well as in other countries around the world.

In the following decades, Barolo was "typical wine of honor" at the beginning of the 1930’s and was accredited with the DOC designation in 1966 and the DOCG in 1980.

Today, Barolo is one of the most important Italian wines, perhaps the most well known and appreciated in the global context. The core of production remains here, along the long hills on the south-west side of the city of Alba, with this special environment and a tribute to the wise men who built one of the most famous wine-growing areas on the planet.