A Note on Barolo

A Salumeria's sign in Monforte

It’s always an interesting question; “What’s the difference between this Barolo and THAT Barolo?” When talking about how “place” determines what the wine will be, the “geeks” among us like to talk about soils, altitude, and exposure – each giving something to the wine that can’t be reproduced in the next town over.

But the one other aspect of “terroir” that’s often missed is “culture.” And differences in culture shape the viticolotore’s aesthetic just as much as soils. You can see this in looking at the two Barolo villages represented at Moore Brothers; Monforte and Serralunga.

Monforte is a much larger town than Serralunga. It was one of the important centers of commerce in the area which became known as the “Barolo” zone. Quite broadly speaking, the inhabitants of this town were much “better off” than their counterparts in Serralunga. In Serralunga, the market for grapes was dominated by the large Fontanafredda winery, and most of the farmers struggled with producing enough grapes to see them through the winter.

You can “feel” this in the wines from the two villages. Serralunga wines seem just a touch more rustic and “powerful,” while Monforte wines seemed wrapped in velvet by comparison. Neither is “better” than the other – both show the connection of the viticoltore to his (or her) culture, vineyard sites, and vines, and are interconnected and inseparable from the specifics of altitude, soil type, and exposure. Wine is, after all, “human.”

Which one to choose should depend on mood and menu. It’s our job to help you decide.

David Moore
David Moore

David Moore started buying wine for Philadelphia restaurants in 1977 and was managing partner of Philadelphia’s first “wine bar” in 1981. In 1991, after nearly twenty years in restaurants (including five spent at Le Bec-Fin), David took over the wine program at a New Jersey retailer and built a nationally recognized business focused on “wines off the beaten track.” In 1996 he and his brother, Greg joined forces to form Moore Brothers Wine Company. He’s our resident mapmaker and graphic design department, as well as IT director. He is often found staring at data and code, or screaming at misbehaving computers.